Best Colleges and Most Affordable Colleges Methodology

To be considered for these subject rankings, schools need to be CSWE Accredited and need to offer at least one degree in the program type (online or campus) for the degree level that was ranked.

Tuitions were manually researched and reflect the lowest tuition rate available at the specified degree level. Figures are accurate at the time of publication; please check with the institution for current tuition rates. Tuition was calculated assuming full-time status. Unless otherwise stated, bachelor’s programs were assumed to require four years to complete and master’s programs were assumed to require two years to complete. For online programs, out-of-state tuitions were used unless in-state tuition is offered to all online students. For campus programs, out-of-state tuitions were used.

For Best lists, we only considered schools with reported PayScale salaries. Salaries are specific to the degree level and the program of each list. Median salaries provided by PayScale were used to determine rank order. For Bachelor levels, early-career (<10 years of experience) salaries of alumni from each school were used. For Master levels, the reported mid-career (10+ years of experience) salaries of alumni from each school were used.

Fully Online Status

Schools with programs that require some on-campus coursework were still considered for online rankings if the amount of in-person work required was limited to two weeks or less. This allows students to retain their current employment or other personal responsibilities.

Data Sources

Program data including available degrees, tuition rates, and details about program coursework were collected from official school websites, reflecting data for the 2018-2019 school year. These data were collected in August of 2018.

Programmatic accreditation and profit status of schools were collected from official websites of the accreditation agencies or from the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES is the primary governmental entity for gathering and presenting data related to education. NCES data are updated annually. The NCES does not release data into downloadable formats until they have been approved, so the most current available data will not be for the most recent academic year.