Forbes Magazine's List of America's Best Colleges

In 2008, began publishing an annual list of "America's Best Colleges".[1] Post-graduate success (self-reported salaries of alumni from PayScale, and data from the federal Department of Education) constitutes 35% of the score. Student debt loads constitute 20% of the score. Student experience (retention rates reported by the Department of Education, and data from Niche) constitutes 20% of the score. Graduation rates constitute 12.5% of the score. Academic success (using both the percentage of a school's student body that goes on to obtain doctorate degrees, and those students who have won one of a diverse array of prestigious academic awards) constitutes 12.5%. Public reputation is not considered, which causes some colleges to score lower than in other lists. A three-year moving average is used to smooth out the scoring.

Just under half (45%) of students obtain a degree or certificate at the first institution they attend within six years of starting college. Another 12% transfer and complete at a different institution, for a total completion rate of 57%. Six years after first enrolling, 12% of students have not completed college but are still enrolled. Nearly one in three (31%) drop out entirely.[2]

Starting in 2013, four schools that had admitted to misreporting admissions data were removed from the list for two years. The four removed colleges were Bucknell University, Claremont McKenna College, Emory University, and Iona College.[3]


  1. "America's Top Colleges". Forbes. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  2. Cooper, Preston. "College Completion Rates Are Still Disappointing". Forbes. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  3. "'Forbes' Boots 4 Colleges From Its Rankings". Inside Higher Ed. July 25, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
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