Samford University continues to rank in the top tier of national doctoral research universities, according to the annual college rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. This is Samford’s third consecutive year to be ranked in the top tier of the most widely-known of the national collegiate ranking programs.
In the 2010 rankings, Samford rose four spots to 126, where it is tied with the University of Utah. There are 262 institutions in the national category.
Samford also was one of 25 national universities recognized by U.S. News for having students with the least amount of debt at graduation. Samford was ranked 12th, with an average student debt of $13,996. Princeton University was ranked first in the least debt listing, with an average debt of $5,859.
Samford was reclassified as a national university in 2006 because of the diversity of undergraduate and graduate degrees offered. Samford currently has 26 doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate degree programs in 138 majors, minors and concentrations.
U.S. News bases its rankings on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications. Since the early 1970s, the Carnegie classifications have been the standard used by higher education to classify accredited institutions. The system is used in the study of higher education, both as a way to demonstrate institutional differences and as a research guide to ensure adequate representation of institutions by size and scope, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford’s vice president for operations and planning. Latham oversees the office of institutional effectiveness, which provides the data used by Carnegie and U.S. News to assess Samford.
"That Samford continues to be recognized as a top tier university is evidence that we are providing top quality academic programs," Latham said. "To be recognized nationally for what our faculty and staff do on a daily basis affirms our commitment to Samford’s unique mission as a university that excels at combining academic integrity with its Christian heritage."
Latham explained that U.S. News uses several factors to determine its rankings, including academic achievements of entering students, graduation rates, freshman class retention, class size, faculty/student ratio and alumni giving.
Among peer groups, Samford is one of three Alabama universities ranked in the top tier – the University of Alabama and Auburn University being the other two. Samford also is the highest ranked university in the Southern Conference, although several Southern Conference member schools are classified as regional master’s or baccalaureate level institutions. Samford also is one of three historically Baptist universities, along with Wake Forest and Baylor, classified in the top tier of national universities.