pp 1–15 | Cite as

Is Bigger, Better? Exploring U.S. News Graduate Education Program Rankings and Internet Characteristics

  • Z. W. TaylorEmail author
  • Joshua Childs
  • Ibrahim Bicak
  • Izzat Alsmadi


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.


U.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.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Texas A&M University, San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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