Our Rankings Methodology

Aspiring social work professionals researching college programs can use school rankings to explore prospective program opportunities. However, students should also consider our methodology to ensure the data produces viable and relevant results.

SocialWork.org enters data from national databases into a proprietary, in-house formula. The section below takes a more in-depth look at the formula. Our rankings do not contain editorial influence, allowing our rankings to remain objective.

Students should note that our rankings do not include every school, as some programs do not meet minimum data requirements. Degree-seekers can use SocialWork.org rankings as a resource when researching potential schools.

About Our Data

The SocialWork.org quality assurance team reviews all datasets for accuracy. Statistics typically come from the National Center for Education Statistics. This federal organization collects and analyzes education data across the country from postsecondary schools that accept financial aid. We pulled data from December 2020 for schools listed in the 2021 rankings.

Students should note that SocialWork.org excludes some institutions from rankings. For instance, we exclude colleges or universities that do not disclose pertinent data points, as these schools can adversely affect ranking calculations.

How We Calculate Our Rankings

Multiple factors influence our rankings. We primarily focus on four major categories: academic quality, overall cost, reputation, and accessibility. These elements break down into subfactors, which carry different weights in the calculation.

For instance, students searching for distance programs may want to know how many students attend a particular online program or distance education in general at a potential school. See the section below to learn more about the subfactors included in SocialWork.org rankings.

Rankings Subfactors

Subfactors for Academic Quality

  • Full-time retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • Student-to-faculty ratio

Subfactors for Affordability

  • The average net price for students awarded grant or scholarship aid
  • Federal student aid default loan rate
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal student loans
  • The average amount of federal student loans awarded to undergraduate students
  • Percent of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  • The average amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded

Subfactors for School Reputation

  • Percent admitted total
  • Admissions yield total
  • Mean earnings of graduates six years after enrolling

Subfactors for Online Accessibility

  • Percentage of students enrolled in online programs at a specific level
  • Percentage of students enrolled online overall