Schools that specialize in business, engineering and art, as well as international schools, are labeled as such and are also listed as Unranked, which means that they are not ranked. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical rank for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.
In addition, schools with fewer than 200 students; schools with a high percentage of older, part-time students; those institutions that have indicated that they don't use the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions for first-time, first-year, degree-seeking applicants; and some schools that did not receive enough responses on the peer assessment survey to allow us to use their peer score as part of the overall ranking are not ranked and thus listed as Unranked.
You can see all the different categories in which a school is numerically ranked in the Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools and Best Online Education Programs rankings via the Rankings tab along the top of the page.
Along with all of the application deadlines for fall 2014 admission – for regular decision, early decision and early action – you'll find a link to the online application.
The high school academic requirements are noted, plus whether the school requires SAT or ACT scores or at least uses them in admissions decisions. Various academic and nonacademic factors that are, or might be, considered in admissions decisions are rated on their relative importance: very important, important, considered or not considered.
A look at the admissions statistics for the fall 2012 entering class will tell you the proportion of all applicants who were accepted, as well as the proportion of early decision and early action applicants who got in compared with the acceptance rate of non-early applicants. You'll find out how many freshmen enrolled, what percentage were accepted early and how many were men or women.
Of those who submitted their high school class standing when they applied, you'll see how many ranked among the top 10 percent of their high school class, in the top quarter and in the top half. We supply the average high school grade-point average of the 2012 freshmen, the percentage submitting SAT and ACT scores, and, for both tests, the range within which half the students scored. The 25/75 percentiles shown for the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT or ACT Composite tell you that 25 percent of students scored at or below the lower end of the range and 25 percent scored at or above the upper end.
Information on faculty for the 2012-2013 academic year includes the number of full-time professors and the breakdown of men, women, minorities and faculty members from other countries; you can also see what percentage have earned a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their field.
The ratio of undergraduates to undergraduate faculty is provided, as is the percentage of class sections taught by graduate teaching assistants. Class size figures tell you the percentage of classes during the fall 2012 term that had fewer than 20 students, the percentage with 20 to 49 students and the percentage with 50 or more. Labs and discussion sections are excluded.
Two key numbers that applicants should consider are a school's freshman retention rate and its graduation rate. The average freshman retention rate tells you the average proportion of freshmen who started in fall 2008 through fall 2011 who returned the following fall. The graduation rates show the proportion starting college in fall 2006 who earned a degree in four years, five years and six years.
You can see which degrees or certificates and how many were awarded between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. You can see the proportion of students who pursue further study immediately upon graduation, within one year and within five years. In addition, there is a breakdown of the proportion of graduates who pursue further study in business, law, medicine, dentistry, engineering, theology or the seminary, education, arts and sciences and veterinary medicine.