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These New England schools top this year’s Forbes college rankings

Kirkland House at Harvard University.
Kirkland House at Harvard University.(Bill Greene/Globe Staff/File 2012)

Several New England colleges have made the Forbes annual nationwide ranking of universities, with the No. 1 spot going to a Boston-area school.

We’re talking, of course, about the venerable Harvard University, which sits just across the Charles in Cambridge.

A dozen schools in Massachusetts claimed spots in the ranking’s top 100, including MIT at No. 4, Williams College at No. 11, and Amherst College at No. 16. Tufts University came in at No. 33, and the all-women Wellesley College — which counts former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright among its alumnae — was ranked No. 44. Boston College was placed at No. 50, College of the Holy Cross came in at No. 59, Babson College scored No. 64, and Boston University and Smith College came in at Nos. 78 and 79, respectively. Brandeis University was ranked No. 97.

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Meanwhile, several schools in New England also earned accolades on the list, including Ivy League colleges Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth. Maine’s Bowdoin and Bates colleges ranked No. 17 and No. 29 nationwide, respectively, and Vermont’s Middlebury College came in at No. 36.

Forbes ranks schools a bit differently than other well-known lists. The magazine said that rather than looking at “inputs” like SAT scores and acceptance rates, it focuses on “outputs” such as alumni salaries, debt load, and graduation rates.

“Forbes’ list of 650 top colleges aims to measure what we believe students care about most,” the publication stated in its introduction. “Where will a college steer them in their life after graduation? How likely are they to find success in their chosen field, to earn enough money to pay their student debt, to win accolades like Pulitzer Prizes and Fulbright scholarships, to become leaders in private and public life?”

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The list, which was released Tuesday, also includes subsections dividing rankings by region — like the top 25 colleges in the Northeast — as well as ranking just public schools, or just private ones.