Our Rankings Methodology

Methodology for Subject Rankings in Cyber Security Degrees

Although no ranking methodology is perfect, we strive to compile the most useful information in an easy-to-use format. We ground our methodology in statistical analysis and data from the most reliable sources to provide a factual representation of the best schools available for each subject.

Ratings are based on relevant school indicators such as retention rates, graduation rates, affordability, and the quality and variety of online course curriculum. The accreditation status of each school is also factored in as accreditation is a key factor in qualifying for federal, state, and private scholarships and grants.

While ranking systems and school ratings can provide valuable insight when choosing a school, ultimately it is, of course, the student’s choice based on the factors most important to their personal situation and needs. Using this website will allow each potential student to examine all aspects of school attendance before enrollment, allowing them to compare schools, courses, and potential career paths as they prepare to enter college.

Data Collection

The data used in methodology is the most current information available. Because statistics are compiled over a period of time, even government websites will show a lag in dates, meaning the most current statistics found on school enrollment will be at least a year old. Some websites, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, report different types of information monthly, quarterly, and annually, and demographic data from the US Census Bureau will reflect numbers from 2010 until the 2020 census is completed and analyzed. If you see different statistics from other sources, compare the source of the information as well as the date or dates the data was compiled to find why there is a discrepancy in the numbers.

Data from

  • College Navigator:
    College Navigator provides information from The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which is the research, statistics, and evaluation institute of the US Department of Education. The search feature allows side-by-side comparisons of schools.
  • College Score Card:
    College Score Card is also from the US Department of Education. College Score Card gives information including costs, admission requirements, programs, and apprenticeships. Links to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics:
    Provided by the United States Department of Labor, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles statistical data on careers, employment, salaries, and other factors which might play a part in education choices.
  • Payscale:
    Payscale compiles information from real-time salary surveys worldwide, allowing you to find career compensation as well as job requirements, duty and education descriptions, and job openings in virtually every occupation.

Ranking Factors We Use

  • Retention Rate:
    This refers to the percentage of freshman students who return to the same school for their second year of studies.
  • Graduation Rate (4 Year, 6 Year):
    More students graduate in six years than in four, so both are factored separately to give a more rounded expectation.
  • Acceptance Rate:
    This is the percentage of students accepted compared to total admission applications. A high acceptance rate may indicate that most people will qualify, and a lower acceptance rate shows the need for a more exceptional application.
  • Average Net Cost/Affordability:
    The average amount students paid after subtracting grant and scholarship monies; does not reflect student loans.
  • Graduating Salary (ROI):
    The preliminary average starting salary for graduates; the time it will take to see a return on investment of college costs.
  • # of Programs Offered:
    The variety of the catalog for each school as well as the courses and specialization studies offered within each program.
  • Online Programs Offered:
    May be vital for students unable to enroll in brick-and-mortar school.
  • Loan Default Rate:
    This statistic may be an indication graduates are unable to find employment; higher default numbers may be a reflection on the school.
  • Diplomas Awarded:
    May reflect a different number than the graduation rate due to certificate programs; a high variance may indicate many transfer students.
  • % of Students Receiving Financial Aid:
    The initial cost of tuition is typically much higher than out-of-pocket expense due to the percentage of financial aid received.
  • Popularity:
    Can play an important factor with future internships and employers, may also reflect on the overall quality of the school.
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