Everyone enjoys rankings regardless of the subject, and that includes ranking colleges. The Wall Street Journal does it. The Washington Monthly does it. The less well known Niche publishes a very different version of college rankings. And the Princeton Review publishes a book each year, The Best 386 Colleges.

But the college rankings that everyone knows about are the U.S. News & World Report rankings. They garner headlines and lots of commentary every year.

At the same time, a list of colleges ignored by the mass media is the list The Chronicle of Higher Education dubbed this past week the “Top Producers of Fulbright U.S. Scholars and Students, 2020-21.”

Admittedly, this is a list that would be of most interest only to students (and their parents and school counselors) who have the potential to be awarded a Fulbright U.S. student award. However, to those students and their parents and counselors, the possibility of competing for a Fulbright award might be a consideration in deciding where to apply for college.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support academic exchanges between the United States and over 150 countries around the world. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers awards for U.S. graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to study, conduct research, and/or teach English abroad.

Just over 500 U.S. colleges and universities actively participate in the Fulbright program, and the Chronicle of Higher Education published lists of the colleges and universities with graduating students who competed successfully for an award. The lists are grouped according to the type of institution the students graduated from. The four types of institutions are doctoral, master’s, baccalaureate and 4-year special-focus (institutions where a high concentration of degrees is in a single field or set of related fields).

The full list of all of the colleges and universities is available at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Below are the lists for baccalaureate and 4-year special-focus institutions. The number of applications and number awarded suggests the emphasis of the program and its advisers at each school.

Baccalaureate institutions (49 colleges – Those with 10 or more Awards are listed.)

4-year special-focus institutions (10 colleges – All had one or more Awards offered.)

As you can see, the Fulbright U.S. student award is quite exclusive. The number of applicants are few and the awards are still fewer. The point here is that the presence of such a program is indicative of what these colleges and universities make available to their best students.

Another excellent indication of the academic quality of a college is the presence of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Just 290 institutions have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. To qualify for this, an institution goes through a three-year process of examination by three levels of Phi Beta Kappa examining committees. We will have more about this in our next blog post.


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