General information on ranking

Name of the ranking (in English) Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings
Name of the ranking (in original) Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings
Scope of the ranking general ranking
Website of the ranking
First year of publication 2017
Most recent year of publication 2022
Date of last update 2023-04-22
Publication frequency annual
Ranking organization Times Higher Education
Methodology website

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings is a ranking of US colleges and universities that puts student success and learning at its heart. The ranking includes clear performance indicators designed to answer the questions that matter most to students and their families when making one of the most important decisions of their lives – who to trust with their education.

The ranking includes the results of the THE US Student Survey, which examines a range of key issues including students’ engagement with their studies, their interaction with their teachers and their satisfaction with their experience. The ranking adopts a balanced scorecard approach, with 15 individual performance indicators combining to create an overall score that reflects the broad strength of the institution. The overall methodology explores four pillars:


Amount of money that each institution spends on teaching per student (11%) allowing to get a clear sense of whether an institution is well funded, with the money to provide a positive learning environment.

Ratio of students to faculty members (11%) giving an overall sense of whether the college has enough teachers to teach and how likely it is that a student will receive the individual attention that can be necessary to succeed at college.

Number of published scholarly research papers per faculty member (8%) at each institution, giving a sense of their research productivity, and testing to see whether staff are able to produce research that is suitable for publication in the world’s top academic journals, as indexed by Scopus. 


THE has captured student engagement across the US through its US Student Survey, carried out in partnership with two leading market research providers. Students answer 12 core questions about their experience that are either multiple choice or on a scale from 0 to 10. The data from the student survey have been rebalanced by gender to reflect the actual gender ratio at the college.

Student engagement (7%) – to capture this indicator the average score of the four questions in the THE US Student Survey is considered (to what extent does the student’s college or university support critical thinking? to what extent does the teaching support reflection on, or making connections among, the things that the student has learned? to what extent does the teaching support applying the student’s learning to the real world? to what extent do the classes taken in college challenge the student?).

Interaction with teachers and students (4%) – to capture a student’s opportunity to interact with others to support learning, the responses to two questions the THE US Student Survey are used: to what extent does the student have the opportunity to interact with faculty and teachers? And to what extent does the college provide opportunities for collaborative learning? 

Student recommendation (6%) – if a friend or family member were considering going to university, based on your experience, how likely or unlikely are you to recommend your college or university to them?

Number of different subjects taught (3%) – it is considered to help a student understand the opportunities that are on offer at the institution, and the likelihood of getting a more rounded education. While other components of the Engagement pillar are drawn from the student survey, the source of this metric is IPEDS. 


Graduation rate (11%) – a crucial way to help students to understand whether colleges have a strong track record in supporting students enough to get them through their course and ensure that they complete their degrees.

Value added to graduate salary (12%) - The THE data team uses statistical modelling to create an expected graduate salary for each college based on a wide range of factors, such as the demographic make-up of its student body and the characteristics of the institution. The ranking looks at how far the college either exceeds expectations in getting students higher average salaries than one would predict based on its students and its characteristics, or falls below what is expected. 

Debt after graduation (7%) - The concern over student debt and the cost of higher education in general has come to the forefront of public discussion recently. A measure of the debt accrued by a college’s students when they graduate reflects this concern and holds institutions accountable for the cost that they represent to individuals and funding sources. 

Academic reputation (10%) – based on THE’s annual Academic Reputation Survey, a survey of leading scholars that helps determine which institutions have the best reputation for excellence in teaching. 


Proportion of international students (2%) – a key indicator that the university or college is able to attract talent from across the world and offers a multicultural campus where students from different backgrounds can, theoretically, learn from one another.

Inclusion of students with lower family earnings (2%) – the proportion of students who receive Pell Grants (paid to students in need of financial support). 

Racial and ethnic diversity of students (3%)

Racial and ethnic diversity of the faculty (3%)

All ranked institutions have an overall score and four pillar scores. However, for each pillar, only institutions ranked in the top 400 overall, or the top 400 in that pillar, have a publicly visible score.

Additional information

  • Main target groups: students and parents, higher education institutions
  • Level of comparison: institutional: 796
  • Major dimensions covered: internationalization, reputation, research, teaching, racial and ethnic diversity, student satisfaction, students’ engagement with their studies
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