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Morningstar Ratings 101: What You Need to Know

A breakdown of Morningstar’s ratings

What is the star rating?

The Morningstar Rating for funds, often called the star rating, is a purely quantitative, backward-looking measure of a fund’s past performance, measured from one to five stars. Star ratings are calculated at the end of every month. You can search for a fund to see its most recent star rating for free on

How does the star rating work?

The Morningstar Rating methodology rates funds within the same Morningstar Category based on an enhanced Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure. To receive a Morningstar Rating, a fund must have a record of more than three years.

How is the star rating used?

The Morningstar Rating helps investors assess a fund’s track record relative to its peers. It’s intended for use as the first step in the fund evaluation process. You can read more about the rating’s performance on

What measures does Morningstar take to protect investors from misuses of the star ratings in advertising?

We make the most recent ratings available for free to everyone at, so they can validate any promotions themselves. The most recent ratings are also available on other media websites, brokerage and asset manager websites, and within 401(k) plans. We make the most recent ratings available to advisors through Morningstar Direct, Morningstar Office, and Morningstar Advisor Workstation and through data feeds.

We review advertising material sent to us to assist firms with the approval process required by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, though not everything is sent to us. And if we encounter an incorrect use—whether it was sent to us or not—we notify the firm and ask them to correct it.

If the firm does not correct it, we have the right to terminate the license to use our ratings, per our licensing agreement. We are not aware of an example where a firm’s compliance department did not accept our guidance.

What’s the Morningstar Medalist Rating?

The Medalist Rating is the summary expression of Morningstar’s forward-looking analysis of investment strategies as offered via specific vehicles using a rating scale of Gold, Silver, Bronze, Neutral and Negative. The Medalist Ratings indicate which investments Morningstar believes are likely to outperform a relevant index or peer group average on a risk-adjusted basis over time. Analyst Ratings are continuously monitored and reevaluated at least every 14 months.

How does the Morningstar Medalist Rating work?

Investment products are evaluated on three key pillars (People, Parent, and Process) which, when coupled with a fee assessment, forms the basis for Morningstar’s conviction in those products’ investment merits and determines the Medalist Rating they’re assigned. Pillar ratings take the form of Low, Below Average, Average, Above Average, and High. Pillars may be evaluated via an analyst’s qualitative assessment (either directly to a vehicle the analyst covers or indirectly when the pillar ratings of a covered vehicle are mapped to a related uncovered vehicle) or using algorithmic techniques. Vehicles are sorted by their expected performance into rating groups defined by their Morningstar Category and their active or passive status. When analysts directly cover a vehicle, they assign the three pillar ratings based on their qualitative assessment, subject to the oversight of the Analyst Rating Committee, and monitor and reevaluate them at least every 14 months. When the vehicles are covered either indirectly by analysts or by algorithm, the ratings are assigned monthly. For more detailed information about the Medalist Ratings, including their methodology, please go to

What is the Morningstar Sustainability Rating for funds?

The Morningstar Sustainability Rating is a measure of how well the holdings in a portfolio are managing their environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, risks and opportunities relative to their Morningstar Category peers. The Sustainability Rating is depicted by globe icons where High equals 5 globes and Low equals 1 globe. Sustainability Ratings are updated monthly.