Are there standard criteria to determine the peer institutions?

My institution is an american private liberal art university that follows the semester system, for which I can think of the following criteria:

  1. Liberal art university
  2. Private university
  3. Semester-based university
  4. Endowment of the university
  5. Number of faculty in the department
  6. Number of graduates with BS every 3 years say
  7. Number of graduates with MS every 3 years say

Will that be OK? anything else?

  • 1
    Endowments may not be very useful in non-US institutions, which are often publicly funded. Jun 9, 2015 at 15:16
  • 1
    I often hear the phrase "peer institution" used to mean an institution with which mine competes to attract students and faculty. So it is often a question of the institutions (perceived) quality. Jun 9, 2015 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The Carnegie Foundation gives 6 types of criteria:

  1. Undergraduate instructional program
  2. Graduate instructional program
  3. Enrollment profile
  4. Undergraduate profile
  5. Size and setting
  6. Basic classification

There are many factors involved--for instance, geographic region and percent of full time students are factors in 5 and 4. I don't think semester versus quarter system is too important. See the link for descriptions of these criteria.

There also seem to be a couple of Chronicle articles about selecting peer institutions:



however I can't access the Chronicle website right now, but did find this other article which discusses the first Chronicle article linked:


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