Ten colleges and universities in Maryland, Virginia and the District have been rated among the best in their categories in a recent nationwide survey of college presidents.

The survey, conducted by U.S. News & World Report magazine, included responses from 788 university and college presidents who were given lists of schools similar to their own and asked to name the top five.

Hood College in Frederick, Md., was rated first among 74 small, comprehensive institutions that award at least half of their degrees in occupational programs. Ranked third and fourth in the same category were Gallaudet College in the District, the nation's only independent liberal arts college for the deaf, and College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where 40 percent of the undergraduates receive degrees in health-related subjects.

Hood, where the majority of the faculty, top administration and 1,100 undergraduates are women, was credited with being the first college to establish a core curriculum for career programs.

Factors considered in the survey for each category were strength of curriculum, quality of teaching, the relationship between faculty and students and the atmosphere for learning.

The survey divided schools into nine categories drawn up by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It was published in the Nov. 25 edition of U.S. News & World Report, which was released this week.

James Madison University, a state-supported school in Harrisonburg, Va., was listed second among 158 larger comprehensive institutions in the South. George Mason University in Fairfax was rated fifth and Old Dominion University in Norfolk was ranked ninth in that area.

Among 129 larger comprehensive schools in the East, Towson State University in Maryland was listed seventh and was cited for giving about 40 percent of its degrees in business.

Goucher College, a private women's school outside of Baltimore, was ranked third among 189 regional colleges that give more than half of their degrees in the liberal arts. Goucher was singled out for requiring off-campus internships that supplement liberal arts studies. Ninth in the same category was the University of Richmond.

Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va., where business students predominate, was ranked fifth in the category of small southern colleges that give more than half of their degrees in occupational programs.

No school in the area was cited among the top 10 national universities or national liberal arts colleges. The University of Virginia was listed as "noteworthy" in the group of 192 national universities.

The highest ranked national university was Stanford, followed by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Chicago, Duke, Brown, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Dartmouth. National universities were defined as major research universities and leading granters of doctoral degrees.

The survey revealed that most presidents seemed to favor institutions "that insist that their students be educated broadly" and that emphasize liberal arts study, even where many students are in career programs.

Presidents who responded warned students that the top rated colleges were not necessarily the "best" for every student, according to the magazine.

"Picking the 'best' is more like identifying a future spouse than picking a stock for investment," the magazine quoted Cornell University President Frank Rhodes as saying. "When you encounter the one for you, you'll know it."