Higher Education Institutional Rankings: Evaluating Their Credibility for Branding and Marketing

  • Gerald W. McLaughlin
  • Josetta S. McLaughlin
  • Jacqueline E. McLaughlin


This chapter focuses on the importance of addressing two concerns before using the rankings—how rankings are used by stakeholders and whether the rankings are credible. Higher education institutions (HEIs) are ranked on almost every conceivable attribute. As a result, HEI ranking has emerged as a robust marketing component in branding and is used extensively by institutions. This chapter provides an overview of whether stakeholders are influenced by HEI rankings and a discussion of three important ranking issues—source legitimacy, data integrity, and methodology. A discussion of professional schools identifies the unique issues that surface when rankings focus on specialized programs. We conclude with a description of the International Ranking Expert Group initiative to create a framework for developing and evaluating credible HEI rankings.


Branding and marketing Higher education ranking Ranking credibility IREG 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald W. McLaughlin
    • 1
  • Josetta S. McLaughlin
    • 2
  • Jacqueline E. McLaughlin
    • 3
  1. 1.Associate VP Emeritus, Enrollment Management and MarketingDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Associate Professor Emerita of ManagementRoosevelt UniversityChicagoUSA
  3. 3.UNC Eshelman School of PharmacyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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