Grinnell College often is listed among the very top national liberal arts colleges. That highlights the world-class education and value we offer. The rankings often offer solid information about whether a particular school is a good match for you. On the other hand, some use data for parts of the research that might not tell the whole story, are dated, or were analyzed with questionable methodology. It’s a good idea to read the fine print on how the information was produced. You’ll find links to some of the most popular sites here.

Popular Rankings at a Glance

U.S. News ranked Grinnell 17th among the nation's best liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings
  • high school class standing
  • graduation rate performance
  • peer assessment
Behind the Rankings

The magazine provides one of the most-consulted ratings packages, ranking Grinnell No. 17 among the nation’s best national liberal arts colleges.

U.S. News makes modest changes to the way it compiles its ratings each year. Some question part of the methodology. For example, college officials are asked to rank their peers’ academic reputation, but may lack key information about those competing schools. The rankings also rely on data that tell what the campus was like two to our years ago, not now. And schools can drop a couple of slots for reasons they can’t control, such as the addition of the military academies to the rankings.

Forbes ranked Grinnell 64th amonth the best U.S. colleges and universities
America's Top Colleges in Forbes Magazine
  • student satisfaction
  • postgraduate success and low student debt
  • four-year graduation rate and competitive awards
Behind the Rankings

The magazine does not separate colleges and universities in the rankings. It relies on a series of surveys and data based to examine student satisfaction, postgraduate success, student debt, four-year graduation rates and competitive awards.


Kiplinger's ranked Grinnell 10th in best value among liberal arts colleges
Kiplinger Best Values in Private Colleges, 2014
  • academic quality
  • generous financial aid (total annual cost includes tuition, fees, room, and board)
Behind the Rankings

Kiplinger’s rankings examine a combination of academic quality, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the score, plus cost and financial information.

Princeton Review ranked Grinnell 6th in most accessible professors and 7th in most politically active students
Princeton Review National Liberal Arts College Rankings
  • school academics
  • school administration
  • college life and fellow students
Behind the Rankings

Princeton Review ranked Grinnell No. 6 in most-accessible professors, and No. 7 in most politically active students. The magazine puts out 62 rankings, based on an 80-question, ratings-based student survey.  Questions cover school academics/administration; college life; fellow students; and questions about the students.

Washington Monthly ranked Grinnell 7th for best bang for the buck among liberal arts colleges
Washington Monthly 2013 Bang for the Buck Rankings
  • social mobility
  • research
  • service
  • students receiving Pell grants
  • predicted graduation rate based on SAT scores
  • net price of attending
  • percentage of graduates who go on to earn doctorates
Behind the Rankings

The magazine does not separate colleges and universities in the rankings. It relies on a series of surveys and data based to examine student satisfaction, postgraduate success, student debt, four-year graduation rates, and competitive awards.



Don’t look at any single ranking. Pick out the measures that matter to you, and look for a school that gets high marks in the categories that you consider important. Use the rankings to narrow the field to a few schools you would like to investigate further. Remember, the ratings reflect someone else’s values, and yours may differ significantly.

Other things to consider

  • Sometimes, the ratings can give a skewed picture. For example, a school that emphasizes public service could be ranked relatively low in alumni giving, for example. Or a school with many adult students who come and go could be penalized for low graduation rates. Some use questionable analyses of professor pay data.
  • The most recent rankings, generally released in 2013, tell a lot about hundreds of schools, and yet also leave some questions unanswered. They can be quite a bit to digest. Five of the most-used rankings, for example, sort through 40 to 50 different aspects of academics, affordability, college life and eventual success in the job market.
  • Occasionally, outside factors drop a school a notch or two for reasons outside of their control. For example, the ratings added the well-ranked military academies in 2013, pushing some schools down a couple of slots.