News & Events

Mars Hill University has ranked 37th among the top 100 regional colleges in the South on the U.S. News and World Report 2015 “American’s Best Colleges” rankings.

Mars Hill tied for 37th place with Alderson Broaddus University (WV) and Belmont Abbey College (NC) on the Regional Colleges in the South ranking. Mars Hill has placed in the U.S. News rankings for eleven years now, ranking each time from the high 20s to the mid-30s.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. News says its “America’s Best Colleges” ranking has grown to be one of the most comprehensive research tools for students and parents considering higher education opportunities. School groupings are based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. By that measure, schools in the regional liberal arts colleges category "focus almost entirely on the undergraduate experience and offer a broad range of programs in the liberal arts (which account for fewer than half of all bachelor’s degrees granted) and in fields such as business, nursing and education."

U.S. News compiles the rankings by gathering data from each college on up to 16 indicators of academic excellence. Each factor is assigned a weight that reflects the magazine's assessment of how much that measure matters. Among the factors considered are peer assessment, average freshman retention rate, graduation rate, class size, acceptance rate, SAT/ACT rankings of accepted students, and average alumni giving rate.

In the rankings, Mars Hill earned points for the small size of its classes. According to the U.S. News data, 72% of Mars Hill's classes are smaller than 20 students and none are larger than 50 students. The institution also did well with respect to peer assessment, where it ranked 2.9 out of 5.

While the U.S. News rankings are far from perfect, they certainly can be useful for colleges and universities as they continue to improve and meet the needs of future students, according to Dr. Dan Lunsford, president of Mars Hill University.

"The U.S. News rankings provide very valuable information," Lunsford said. "It's not a perfect assessment, because there are no perfect assessments of college performance. On the other hand, it is important information because it quantifies those attributes of the college experience that are important to us and to our students: 'How are we perceived by our peers? How are we doing on faculty/student ratio? How are we doing on graduation rates? How are we doing on freshman retention?' These are important factors for us, regardless of whether they are used for ranking purposes or not."

Lunsford said he was proud of Mars Hill's position in the top 50 of the top 100 regional liberal arts colleges in the South. "We are in good company with other excellent institutions, and I congratulate the faculty and staff who earned this standing for us," Lunsford said.

(posted 20140909)