Is Bigger, Better? Exploring U.S. News Graduate Education Program Rankings and Internet Characteristics
- 8 Downloads
University ranking systems influence a wide range of educational stakeholders, including students, faculty members, and campus administrators. Of these ranking systems, the U.S. News & World Report ranking of colleges and universities has been the subject of much research. However, little research has examined specific U.S. News disciplinary rankings (such as graduate education) and whether Internet characteristics—such as the popularity of an institutional website—contributes to such a ranking. This study examines relationships between Internet characteristics, institutional characteristics, and the ranking of 69 of the top graduate education programs per U.S. News & World Report 2018 rankings. This examination sought to understand which U.S. News criteria best predicts ranking and whether Internet and institutional characteristics are better predictors of ranking. Regarding U.S. News ranking criteria, results suggest peer assessment best predicts graduate education program ranking. Regarding Internet and institutional characteristics, results suggest institutions with larger endowments (p = 0.01) and smaller websites (p = 0.05) enjoy better rankings. Considering all U.S. News criteria alongside Internet and institutional characteristics, doctoral admission rates (t = 3.30, p = 0.00) and funded research per faculty member (t = − 4.89, p = 0.00) best predict ranking, but the size (t = 2.61, p = 0.01) and popularity (t = − 2.88, p = 0.00) of an institution’s website also strongly predicts ranking. Implications for theory and future research are addressed.
KeywordsU.S. News & World Report rankings College and university ranking systems Web metrics Internet characteristics Institutional websites
There was no funding to support this study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All the authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- Alsmadi, I. & Taylor, Z. W. (2018). Examining university ranking metrics: Articulating issues of size and web dependency. Proceedings of the 2018 International Conference on Computing and Big Data, (pp. 73–77, https://doi.org/10.1145/3277104.3277111)
- Boyington, B. (2014). 30 editions of the U.S. News best colleges ranking. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2014/09/09/infographic-30-editions-of-the-us-news-best-colleges-rankings
- Burdett, K. R. (2013). How students choose a college: Understanding the role of internet based resources in the college choice process. Dissertation Doctoral. Available from ProQuest database. (UMI No. 3590306)Google Scholar
- Center for World University Rankings. (2018). Rankings by subject, 2017. Retrieved from http://cwur.org/2017/subjects.php
- Eagan, K., Stolzenberg, E. B., Zimmerman, H. B., Aragon, M. C., Sayson, H. W., & Rios-Aguilar, C. (2017). The American freshman: National norms fall 2016. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.Google Scholar
- Krrabaj, S., Baxhaku, F. & Sadrijaj, D. (2017). Investigating search engine optimization techniques for effective ranking: A case study of an educational site. 2017 6th Mediterranean Conference on Embedded Computing, (pp. 1–4, https://doi.org/10.1109/meco.2017.7977137)
- Money. (2017). 711 best colleges for your money. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/best-colleges/rankings/best-colleges/
- Morse, R. & Brooks, E. (2017). Best colleges ranking criteria and weights. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/ranking-criteria-and-weights
- National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Integrated postsecondary education data system: Use the data. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data
- Rindova, V. P., Williamson, I. O., Petkova, A. P., & Sever, J. M. (2005). Being good or being known: An empirical examination of the dimensions, antecedents, and consequences of organizational reputation. Academy of Management Journal, 48(6), 1033–1049. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2005.19573108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- SEMrush. (2018). SEMrush: A service for marketing professionals. Retrieved from https://www.semrush.com/
- Slaughter, S., & Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic capitalism and the new economy: Markets, state, and higher education. Baltimore: JHU Press.Google Scholar
- Sponsler, B. A. (2009). The role and relevance of rankings in higher education policymaking. issue brief. Washington, DC: Institute for Higher Education Policy.Google Scholar
- Symonds, Q. (2018). QS world university rankings by subject. Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/subject-rankings/2018
- Taylor, Z. W. (2018). “Now you’re competing”: How historically-Black colleges and universities compete (and don’t) on the Internet. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-018-0111-4.
- Thacker, L. (2005). College unranked: Ending the college admissions frenzy. Cambridge: Harvard University.Google Scholar
- Times Higher Education. (2018). About. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/about-the-times-higher-education-world-university-rankings
- U.S. News & World Report. (2017). Best graduate education programs. U.S. News & World Report, (pp. 102–106)Google Scholar
- U.S. News & World Report. (2018). 2018 best national universities. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities