Our Ranking Methodology

The NursePractitionerSchools.com methodology focuses on a specialized, student-focused approach to ensure our readers receive a holistic view of each school. Our rankings aim to effectively and objectively assess a school’s overall merit by considering factors like quality, cost, and reputation. To help us determine these factors, we pull our data from national databases and incorporate them into a unique formula.

The sections that follow explore how we created our formula, focusing on the subfactors we believe are most important to nurse practitioner (NP) students in their search for the right program. We collect and compile data and weigh metrics of relevant factors to derive a holistic assessment of each school.

We recognize that students value different factors when selecting a school, so we provide a broad scope of information to help them make an informed decision. Our rankings remain free of editorial influence and follow a data-driven methodology. These lists are not inclusive of every NP program offered.

About the Data We Use

We use the most current datasets available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) as our primary source of information. NCES provides data to indicate how well the U.S. educates students. This organization collects data about education in the country and reports its findings to analyze different programs and schools.

When we use data collected from NCES in our methodology, our quality assurance team assesses all schools included in datasets. Any institutions missing a significant amount of data are excluded from rankings, which keeps our calculations as accurate as possible.

Another key data source we use is the average net price and salary data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which reports average graduate earnings data. This data allows our team to determine the specific value of a degree and reviews factors like program cost and admissions information.

All of the data we use for our ranking methodology is publicly available. We pulled all of our data in December 2020 to create the most current and relevant rankings.

How We Calculate Our Rankings

General Rankings Calculations

Affordability Rankings Calculations

A Look Into Our Ranking Factors

Subfactors for Academic Quality

  • Graduation Rate

    Schools with high graduation rates may offer better program opportunities than those with lower rates. Students can weigh their potential for success when observing these figures.

  • Retention Rate

    A program’s retention rate measures the number of students who stay enrolled in their chosen program. Like high graduation rates, higher retention rates can indicate student satisfaction. When retention and graduation rates are both high, learners can infer that the institution offers resources for student success and support services.

  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

    A school with a low student-to-faculty ratio typically indicates a more individualized learning experience for enrollees. Learners often assume that they will not experience as much one-on-one attention with instructors in higher student-to-faculty ratios. Our methodology includes this information to give learners an idea of the learning environment at each school.


  • Average Net Price For Students Awarded Financial Aid

    The average net price for students awarded federal financial aid is how much students need to pay for their postsecondary education after all nonrepayable awards have been applied to the total. Students can use this information to determine payments after graduation and to select affordable programs.

  • Loan Default Rate

    Graduates with student loans must begin repaying what they owe within months of graduating. The loan default rate reveals the number of students who miss payments on their loans; the national average remains at 15% on average. The majority of students default within the first year.

  • Average Amount of Grant and Scholarship Aid Awarded

    Students who can prove financial need can acquire college tuition assistance through the U.S. Department of Education. Financial awards include grants and scholarships; these awards do not require repayment and offset the amount of out-of-pocket costs students must pay. Any student can apply for these funds by filling out a free FAFSA form.

  • Median Debt for Students

    Students often require assistance to afford their college tuition, which leaves them with debt to repay after graduating. In fact, approximately 42 million Americans owe over $36,500 on average. Students can use this information to determine if they can afford their payments once they graduate.

Subfactors for ROI

  • Admission Rate

    Admission rates indicate how many students a college or university admits to their school. Students often need to pay an application fee when applying to schools. Therefore, viewing admission rates and the type of applicants admitted can help students determine how competitive a university is and whether it is worth it to apply.

  • Enrollment Rate

    An enrollment rate is the number of students committing to courses for the upcoming school year. Applicants can use this information to determine the retention rate of the school overall or a particular program. Students can also narrow this information by race or gender.

  • Average Earnings of Students Working

    Students may also want to consider the average earnings of graduates in their field. This information can help students select programs that offer a good return on their investment. Students may also use this information to identify if graduates can secure employment after completing the program at their school.

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