Posted by Philip Poole on 2010-08-17

Samford University continued its upward spiral in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, rising 12 spots to 104th among national doctoral research universities in the 2011 rankings released publicly at midnight Aug. 17.

Samford also was ranked as one of the top 20 national universities for graduates with the least debt at graduation.

Samford was first classified as a national doctoral research university in the 2009 rankings, entering the rankings’ top tier at 128th. Last year, Samford ranked 116th among the 262 national universities. Previously Samford had spent 17 consecutive years as one of the top 10 master’s level universities in the South.

In the 2011 rankings, Samford tied for 104th with Florida State University, Howard University and the universities of Nebraska, New Hampshire and Tennessee. The top four spots in the national university category went to Ivy League universities – Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Columbia – followed by Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania tied for fifth.

“While these rankings are only one measure of a university’s success, it is obvious that Samford’s growing national reputation is being recognized both by our peer institutions and by those who choose to rank the nation’s top universities,” Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said. “The latest rankings also reflect the hard work of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends to achieve the highest quality academic standards while maintaining Samford’s unique Christian mission.”

Westmoreland also stressed Samford’s affordability, evidenced by the top ranking for graduates with the least debt. Samford’s total costs for the 2009-10 academic year were about 37 percent below the national average for private institutions.

“We are keenly aware of the cost of a college education in the midst of a fluctuating economy, and we try to balance the cost to a Samford student with providing the highest quality product we can,” Westmoreland said. “We believe that our graduates, and their parents, understand the value of a Samford education.”

The university’s increased emphasis on recruiting top students is evident in the latest rankings, Westmoreland noted, with 44 percent of the freshman class in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class and increased average scores on national entrance exams.

U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings are based on classifications established by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. More than 1,400 higher education institutions then are grouped in four categories – national universities, liberal arts colleges, universities—master’s and baccalaureate colleges. The schools in the universities-master’s and baccalaureate categories are ranked in four geographic regions.

U.S. News also used data from several indicators of academic quality to tabulate the final rankings, including peer assessments, undergraduate academic reputation, retention and graduation rates, percentages of classes with fewer than 20 students and more than 50 students, acceptance rates and alumni giving rates.

Westmoreland specifically noted that less than two percent of Samford’s undergraduate classes have more than 50 students, one of the lowest percentages in the national university classification.

Samford compared favorably with peer institutions in the rankings. Five Alabama universities are classified as national doctoral research universities, with the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa (tied for 79th) and Auburn University (85th) ranked slightly ahead. The University of Alabama-Birmingham (151st) and the University of Alabama-Huntsville (179th) also are ranked in the national category.

Baylor University (tied for 76th) is the only other Baptist institution in the national doctoral research classification.

Samford also was the highest ranked Southern Conference-member school. The University of North Carolina-Greensboro (191st) and Georgia Southern University are classified as national universities. The other nine SoCon schools are ranked as liberal arts or regional universities.

Samford also is the only member of the prestigious organization The New American Colleges and Universities that is classified as a national doctoral research university.

(Editor’s Note: Additional rankings information will be available later in the week.) 


2011 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings Comparisons 

NDRU=national doctoral research university 




University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa 79 tie, NDRU
Auburn University 85, NDRU
Samford University  104 tie, NDRU 
University of Alabama-Birmingham 151 tie, NDRU
University of Alabama-Huntsville 178 tie, NDRU
Birmingham-Southern College 93 tie, National Liberal Arts
Huntington College Second tier, National Liberal Arts
Judson College Second tier, National Liberal Arts
Spring Hill College 17, Master’s-South
University of Montevallo 40, Master’s-South
University of South Alabama 52, Master’s-South
University of Mobile 59, Master’s-South
Troy University 65, Master’s-South
University of North Alabama 66, Master’s-South
Auburn University-Montgomery 74, Master’s-South
Jacksonville State University 83, Master’s-South

Southern Conference 



Samford University  104 tie, NDRU 
University of North Carolina-Greensboro 191, NDRU
Georgia Southern University Second tier, NDRU
Davidson College 9 tie, National Liberal Arts
Furman University 41 tie, National Liberal Arts
Wofford College 62 tie, National Liberal Arts
Elon University 2, Master’s-South
The Citadel 6, Master’s-South
Appalachian State University 9, Master’s-South
College of Charleston 11, Master’s-South
Western Carolina University 29, Master’s-South
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga 47, Master’s-South

(includes only those listed in the top tiers of national or master’s regional categories) 



Baylor University 76 tie, NDRU
Samford University  104 tie, NDRU 
William Jewell College 131 tie, National Liberal Arts
Georgetown College 162, National Liberal Arts
Meredith College 180, National Liberal Arts
Carson-Newman College 183 tie, National Liberal Arts
Belmont University 5, Master’s-South
Mercer University 8, Master’s-South
Union University 15 tie, Master’s-South
Mississippi College 35 tie, Master’s-South
Campbell University 37, Master’s-South
Palm Beach Atlantic University 54, Master’s-South
Charleston Southern University 87 tie, Master’s-South
University of Mary-Hardin Baylor 30, Master’s-West
Hardin-Simmons University 32 tie, Master’s-West
California Baptist University 48 tie, Master’s-West
Houston Baptist University 50, Master’s-West
Dallas Baptist University 51 tie, Master’s-West
Wayland Baptist University 62 tie, Master’s-West

New American Colleges and Universities
(Listed in alphabetical order) 



Samford University  104 tie, NDRU 
Arcadia University 29, Master’s-North
Belmont University 5, Master’s-South
Butler University 2, Master’s-Midwest
Drake University 3, Master’s-Midwest
Drury University 11, Master’s-Midwest
Elon University 2, Master’s-South
Hamline University 9, Master’s-Midwest
Ithaca College 7, Master’s-North
North Central College 19, Master’s-Midwest
Pacific Lutheran University 13, Master’s-West
The Sage Colleges Second tier, Master’s-North
University of Evansville 10, Master’s-Midwest
University of Redlands 9 tie, Master’s-West
University of Scranton 10 tie, Master’s-North
Valparaiso University 5, Master’s-Midwest
Wagner College 25 tie, Master’s-North
Westminster College 23, Master’s-West

Selected Peer Regional and National Institutions
(includes only those listed in the top tiers of national or master’s regional categories) 



Vanderbilt University 17 tie, NDRU
University of Notre Dame 19, NDRU
Emory University 20, NDRU
Georgetown University (DC) 21, NDRU
Wake Forest University 25, NDRU
College of William & Mary 31, NDRU
Pepperdine University 53, NDRU
Southern Methodist University 56 tie, NDRU
Clemson University 64 tie, NDRU
Brigham Young University 75 tie, NDRU
Texas Christian University 99 tie, NDRU
Samford University  104 tie, NDRU 
Azusa Pacific University 167 tie, NDRU
Biola University 170 tie, NDRU
Washington and Lee University 14 tie, National Liberal Arts
Sewanee 32 tie, National Liberal Arts
University of Richmond 32 tie, National Liberal Arts
Rhodes College 47 tie, National Liberal Arts
Wheaton College 55 tie, National Liberal Arts
Millsaps College 93 tie, National Liberal Arts
Berry College 122 tie, National Liberal Arts
Stetson University 3 tie, Master’s-South
Lipscomb University 18, Master’s-South

Southeastern Conference
(all are classified as NDRU) 



Vanderbilt University 17 tie
University of Florida 53 tie
University of Georgia 56 tie
University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa 79 tie
Auburn University 85
Samford University  104 tie 
University of Tennessee 104 tie
University of South  Carolina 111 tie
Louisiana State University 124 tie
University of Kentucky 129 tie
University of Arkansas 132 tie
University of Mississippi 143 tie
Mississippi State University 151 tie