Methodology for Subject Rankings in Discover Accounting

No ranking system is ever going to be 100% perfect. High school students just entering college and transfer students will ultimately make their decisions based on what is the most relevant to them. Instead, our focus was to offer students from all over the country the most up-to-date and useful information possible. To that end, we’ve ranked the best colleges for accounting majors based on various factors in order to provide students the information they need to choose the best university for their goals. If you have a goal that involves working as a CPA, government auditor, or even as a lead official for the US government, you know you need to find the right degree program to match that goal.

Data Collection

In collecting data that will be used by an audience to make critical decisions, the data used must be recent and accurate. We’ve made the extra effort to provide the most up-to-date and accurate data available, often making use of government websites reporting various data from colleges all over the country. Updates will be performed as necessary to make sure the data we provide offers you the information you need.

Data From


National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

This entity maintains a website containing collected data on education from all over the US.


College Scorecard

The Department of Education’s College Scorecard provides the average salary range for each college’s graduates—something that is vital for students to know.


US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Here you’ll find average hourly earnings and regional homepages listing job data and other valuable resources.



Though not a government website, this private entity aggregates data on thousands of different careers and their average income nationally and in major US cities.

Ranking Factors We Use


Retention Rate

Retention rate is the percentage of students who return to the same university after their freshman year. This can help students by letting them know if those who attended the school before them found the education they received to be satisfactory.


Graduation Rate (4-year, 6-Year)

Rankings measure each university’s six-year graduation rate as compared to what was predicted for their fall entering class. While six years has become the norm for a graduation timeline, colleges with a solid six-year rate are doing well in supporting students all the way through to graduation. However, if a school has a good four-year rate, they may be considered as doing an even better job helping their students graduate on time.


Admission Rate

Admission rate may also be termed acceptance rate and it indicates how exclusive a school is. While it might be harder to get into a school with a low acceptance rate, it also positively corresponds with on-time graduation measures and other positive ROI factors.


Cost of Tuition

Tuition costs are usually a major factor in a students’ decision about entering a particular university or continuing to explore options. And for good reason, since this is one of the most important statistics for knowing what your ROI is going to be for your education.


Graduating Salary (ROI)

College graduates earn more when they graduate than high school graduates earn. Depending on the cost of the school you attended, this will affect your return on investment over time.


Number of Programs Offered

While engineering, physics, and computer science majors are some of the most in-demand for college students, it’s important that you have options to fall back on if you decide to change your major partway through your academic career, as many students do.


Online Programs Offered

Online degree programs are more and more important as the world around us changes. Having access to online degree programs could mean the difference between dropping out when a crisis hits or having the chance to complete your degree on your own time.


Loan Default Rate

Loan default rate is the percentage of student loan borrowers who entered loan repayment on federal student loans, then defaulted on them. While this is not necessarily a view into your future, it can be indicative of what your experience may be.


Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid

A higher percentage of students receiving financial aid means the institution is working hard to reach out to families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford college. If you fear you might be in this position, finding a school who goes the extra mile to help you out could be a very big deal.

How Important are Each of These Ranking Factors

In our rankings, we seek to weight every factor that might impact a student’s experiences and ability to graduate. As hard as we work to get the “best” methodology, not every factor may matter to every student. However, it is important that students decide which factors matter most to them and strive to find this data for every school they’re considering. This is where we come in.

Each ranking gives you, as a student or parent of a student, a closer look into the affordability, quality of academics, and comprehensiveness of each school’s education. Factors such as enrollment rates may be compared to admission rates; retention rates and graduation rates tell families how well universities are doing at retaining and graduating students. Affordability lets you understand the average net price of an institution, using the amount of student loans borrowed and owed post-graduation.

Schools that can offer competitive tuition rates along with retention and graduate salary are ranked higher. And, if these aren’t the most important factors to you, you can review all the information provided to find the school that fits you or your student’s needs.

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