ECU’s ranking philosophy

Our Ranking Philosophy

College guides and rankings can be differentiated from one another by the data each collects and the process used for collecting that information. The most accurate guides obtain data from the schools directly through annual surveys, e.g. College Board’s “Big Future” website or the National Center for Education Statistics’ “College Navigator” website. The most reputable rankings are accompanied by detailed descriptions of methodologies and data sources.

Guides and rankings can also be differentiated by the types and number of institutions evaluated. For categorizing by type, many follow a framework loosely based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education that labels four-year institutions as Doctorate-granting Universities, Master’s Colleges and Universities, or Baccalaureate Colleges. Popular guides and rankings will label doctorate-granting universities as National Universities, while others are liberal arts or regional colleges and universities. As a doctorate-granting research university, ECU is typically compared to other National Universities only. Additionally, not all schools in a category end up on the final ranking list. For example, each year in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges ranking, there are schools that do not meet the criteria established by U.S. News for an institution to be ranked.

East Carolina University is particularly proud to achieve high rankings and recognitions that align with our mission to be a national model for student success, public service and regional transformation. For example, ECU ranks highly when evaluated by Educate to Career. The basis for this ranking is the economic value added because of receiving a degree from East Carolina University. As one measure of student success, economic value-added means that a graduate of ECU experiences an improvement in employability and potential earnings because of a high quality yet affordable education.

At ECU, members of a campus-wide committee devoted to discussing and understanding college rankings (and the surveys on which they are based) have outlined criteria that can be used to guide the evaluation of ranking websites or organizations. These criteria consist of several questions grouped into the following categories: (1) Is it reputable? (2) Is it accurate? and (3) Is it meaningful? A template to be used in this evaluation is available here.

Below are links to some prominent ranking and recognition websites.