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Methods

CASE uses modern econometric methods and a multitude of data sources to analyse university degrees using the context of a specific study programme. We differentiate between different countries, universities, types of degrees, subject categories and graduating years.


This data is used to generate the CASE Score in a two-step process: First, we compare the GPA of a degree with the distribution of GPAs in the graduation year in the specific field of study and degree at the respective university. In a second step, we combine this information with the performance levels of the students in different programmes at different universities. The relative weighting of these two factors is based, among other sources, on our own data collections in which, for example, more than 350,000 German students have been surveyed to date.


CASE currently covers Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, China, India and the US. This list is being expanded on continuously. The database on which the CASE algorithm is based within a country is also regularly expanded. As a result, but also due to changes in the methodology, the scores produced by CASE may change slightly in the future. Grade distributions are smoothed using a weighted moving average that includes a lag of up to three years. This smoothes out short-term fluctuations and enables the analysis of degrees that will be obtained in the future.

Local Grade Comparison

The assessment of the relative performance within a study program is based on the estimated grade distribution in the graduation year in the respective subject at the specific university. The vertical axis indicates the frequency of a specific grade. In Germany, for example, GPAs in the range between 2.0 and 3.0 are most common, which is why the highest point in the figure can often be found there. The figure represents a probability density function that is based on the actual local grade distribution. To make the data continuous, a piece-wise cubic polynomial is used if necessary to interpolate between grade steps.


A degree with an, in absolute terms, rather average GPA, which was acquired at a university with a very strict grading standard, will usually be rated better than the absolute GPA would suggest. The indicator used here is how frequently better grades have been awarded. A placement in the top 4% of the local grade distribution would accordingly be rated higher than a placement in the top 68%.


The local grade comparison of grades is not available for degrees from all countries. This can happen due to legal reasons that do not allow the output of program-specific grade distributions or because only average grades / standard deviations are available for a certain country, for which a graphical representation would not be helpful. In such cases, however, grading information is still included in the calculation of the CASE Score and the CASE Subject Score.

CASE Subject Score

The CASE Subject Score allows for a comparison of degrees obtained in the same study field, but at different university. In contrast to the local grade comparison, this measure takes more than just the relative grade into consideration. In order to allow for real comparability, the different capabilities of the students at different universities are taken into account. Among other things, data on the intelligence and personality of students in the particular study programme, their previous educational biography, performance in admission tests / procedures and subsequent labour market indicators are used.


The curve compares a degree to all other degree types earned at different universities in the same study field. The further to the right a degree is positioned, the better the assessment of that degree relative to others within that subject area. Results are shown as percentiles. A degree could for example be among the top 10% of all degrees earned in mechanical engineering.

CASE Score

The CASE Score allows a precise comparison between all university degrees. For this purpose, the methodology used for the CASE Subject Score is expanded to include university degrees obtained in different subject categories.


The figure presents the CASE Score of a degree, relative to other degrees, irrespective of their subject area. Therefore, the curve is identical for all degrees. This graphical representation can be interpreted in the same way as in the case of the local grades: Points to the left of the value of the degree represent weaker scores, points to the right of the degree represent better scores. The curve itself is based on millions of data points, which are graphically represented using a kernel density function.

Specific methods for individual countries

For Chinese universities, we only offer assessments of Bachelor's degrees. Similarly, we only offer assessments of Bachelor degrees in STEM areas for Indian universities. No evaluations of the local grade distributions are displayed for either two countries. Nevertheless, the individual grade is included in the calculation of the CASE Subject Score / CASE Score in both countries, as information on the grading is used in the calculation of the metrics.


In the UK, postgraduate degrees have traditionally not been given standardised final grades. This means that these qualifications can only be compared without the use of grade information. In addition, specific grade distributions are used for Bachelor's degrees, but these are not displayed.


In the US, we use course grades and combine them differently depending on the subject area of a major. In some cases, where not enough data is available, we use a generalized grade distribution instead of grades that are specific to the study program in question.