Methodology develops its rankings using a unique, student-focused methodology to ensure learners fully understand each option before enrolling in a program. We assess each school’s overall merit objectively, weighing factors like student success and affordability. After choosing which factors to emphasize, we pull information from national databases and use it in a formula created by our team.

While the data we compile might not pertain to every student, we try to emphasize information our readers find relevant during their program search.

Using our unique process, we configure available data and weigh metrics that help students effectively assess schools. Our rankings remain focused on this data and are free from editorial influence.

While these lists do not necessarily include every available public health program, we hope students can use our rankings to find a school that meets their individual needs and goals. We also recognize that what makes one school best for one student might not benefit another, so we explore multiple variables to help as many learners as possible.

More About Our Data

We use only the most relevant and appropriate data at, ensuring that we evaluate the schools in our rankings according to reputable sources. We regularly refer to the most current datasets available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

NCES is the nation’s primary source for information about colleges, universities, and technical or vocational schools. NCES conducts surveys and promotes research initiatives to better understand the current state of education and educational facilities in the United States.

Our quality assurance team thoroughly assesses all schools in the datasets, ensuring that any schools missing a significant amount of data are excluded from our rankings. This process keeps our calculations as accurate as possible.

All of the data we use is publicly available, and we obtained all of our information in December 2020 to create the most relevant, useful rankings possible.

How We Calculate Our Rankings

Online Rankings

A Look Into Our Ranking Factors

There isn’t a single or any “correct” way to measure a school’s quality or affordability. However, our team reviews specific factors and subfactors that we feel are most relevant and important to students, weighing them accordingly to derive an effective, holistic ranking methodology. This process emphasizes school quality, cost, reputation, and program offerings. Our team also explores subfactors like enrollment rate, graduation rate, and average net price. These variables provide degree-seekers with a bigger picture of a college or university.

Subfactors for Quality

  • Full-Time Retention Rate

    Full-time retention rates refer to the number of full-time students attending a particular school who remain enrolled in their program and maintain full-time enrollment status. Retention rates allow students to measure both student satisfaction and the amount of resources available to help candidates succeed in their program.

  • Graduation Rate

    Our methodology focuses on the number of students at a particular college or university who graduate from their program. Schools that feature higher graduation rates typically offer more tools and resources to encourage student success, making it easier for candidates to complete their degree.

  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

    Student-to-faculty ratios represent the number of learners per faculty member. Institutions with smaller class sizes typically cultivate an individualized learning experience, providing students with more one-on-one attention, which can enhance their overall college experience and facilitate collaboration.

Subfactors for Cost

Average Net Price

While average net price refers to the price students pay for tuition, the term takes into account any sort of financial aid. That includes scholarships, loans, work-study gifts, and grants. Tuition costs can be deceiving. One college may offer low tuition rates without any financial aid, but a school charging higher tuition rates can have a lower average net price overall thanks to robust financial aid opportunities.

Loan Default Rate

Loan default rates refer to the number of graduates who are unable to make payments on their student loans. If a college or university features a low loan default rate, students can infer that earning a degree from that institution may lead them to a career that allows them to afford their student loan payments after graduation.

Grant and Scholarship Aid Awarded

A college awarding plentiful grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities can significantly decrease the price of tuition. Scholarships and grants also reduce the amount that students must take out in loans.

Median Debt for Students

This factor takes into account the median debt students accrue within six years of enrolling in college. Learners who graduate with high debt must still pay off those expenses for years and even decades to come; therefore, median debt for students plays a role in determining overall college costs.

Subfactors for Reputation

  • Enrollment Rate

    This factor looks at the number of undergraduate and graduate learners. Schools with high enrollment rates often indicate student satisfaction and viable program options, which may encourage students to attend the college or university.

  • Admission Rate

    Admission rates provide insight into a college’s selectivity. Schools with low admission rates tend to be more selective, and by association, more prestigious. Schools that admit every applicant typically do not enjoy the same reputation. Admission rates can give students a general idea of an institution’s prestige.

  • Average Earnings of Students Working

    This factor refers to the average income that students earn annually by the sixth year after their initial enrollment. Generally speaking, high-earning students and graduates indicates that they obtained a valuable education from a quality school. Schools whose graduates enjoy greater financial success rank more highly in terms of reputation.

Subfactors for Program Offerings

Percentage of Students Enrolled Online

Evaluating the percentage of students enrolled online, both at the degree level and overall, provides candidates with a better understanding of a school’s online learning opportunities. Institutions that offer a large number of online programs typically also provide productive support methods that allow distance learners to succeed academically.

Percent of Degrees Offered at Ranking Degree Level

This variable considers the degrees that a school offers at each level: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. Some schools grant only undergraduate degrees, while others offer degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.