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Best Graduate Degree Programs for 2010

Tags:  Career strategies, Graduate degree, Life after college

If you're considering graduate school, you need to first consider what and where. That is, what will you study and where will you study it? It may be that you have decided to continue at the same institution in a similar program to your undergraduate degree (i.e. BS in Business Administration with an MBA). However, your choice may also be to move on to another university and to pick up a graduate degree which compliments your undergrad work.

Whatever the case, you'll want to know how the U.S. News & World Report ranks America's Best Graduate Schools 2009. What's nice about the U.S. News list is that they have broken it down into specialties such as accounting, information services and supply chain/logistics for business or tax, environmental and healthcare for law. However, for our purposes we have selected what they consider the overall top graduate schools regardless of focus. Here they are listed alphabetically by field.


Interesting enough, of the top schools, two tied with a perfect 100 points a piece, yet are on opposite shores. Is it any surprise that Harvard University in Boston, MA, and Stanford University in Stanford, CA, tied for first place?

While Harvard's approximate annual tuition is $42,000, Stanford is bit pricier at around $46,000. Now it will just be a matter of deciding if you want to be on the East Coast or West Coast.

Rounding out the top five schools are the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan), and Northwestern University (Kellogg).


The race for the top five American universities that offer graduate degrees in education was tight with a point spread that only totals five between the schools. Coming in on top with another perfect 100 is once again Stanford University with a cost of nearly $35,000 per year.

The next four universities are Vanderbilt University (Peabody) with 99 points; University of California – Los Angeles with 98 points; Teachers College, Columbia University with 97 points; and University of Oregon in Eugene with 96 points.


This time MIT ranked #1, but Stanford wasn't far behind in second place. At a cost of nearly $35,000 per year MIT is actually a bit easier on the pocket book compared to Stanford's price of about $37,000 a year.

The other three universities that fall into the top five of engineering schools are University of California – Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Fine Arts

With subspecialties in fields like graphic design and photography, many of the top-ranked programs were at smaller schools including the top fine arts program at the Rhode Island School of Design. A private art and design school in Providence, RI, the school was founded in 1877, has 45 galleries on three floors and sits near Brown University.

The next four schools were Yale University, School of Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy of Art and Maryland Institute College of Art.


The health category is unique in that the list did not include an overall group of tops schools, but instead broke health into fifteen separate categories including clinical psychology, pharmacy, social work and veterinary and ranked schools according to their specialties.

However, in the field of healthcare management, the top five schools were University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), and Virginia Commonwealth University.


If your choice is to go to law school, you know there are a lot of excellent schools to choose from. However, U.S. News deemed that the #1 law school in the U.S. can be found at Yale. With a total full-time enrollment (2007) of 586 and a cost of about $44,000 a year it's more expensive than its #2 rival Harvard (about $39,000 annually) that has about three times as many students at 1,758 in 2007. Stanford, Columbia and New York University make up the top five.

Library and Information Studies
Who even knew there was such a program, but there is. And the best one is at the University of Illinois, Urbana—Champaign. Rather make that the best two, because the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill tied for first in this category.

The other three that fill up the top five are Syracuse University (New York), University of Washington (Seattle) and University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.


Most people think of medical school as being pricey. However, if you look at any of these graduate programs you'll see that any education advanced beyond an undergrad degree is going to have a hefty price tag.

The top five ranked medical schools, according to U.S. News, are Harvard University ($41,861/annually), Johns Hopkins University ($40,669/annually), Washington University in St. Louis ($43,380), University of Pennsylvania ($42,706/annually) and University of California – San Francisco ($35,683).

Public Affairs

If you're considering a job in the public sector, thinking you might want to analyze urban, health or social policy or get into city management, then you may want to consider a graduate degree in public affairs.
The top five schools on the list to study public affairs are Syracuse University, Harvard University, Indiana University – Bloomington, Princeton University and University of Georgia.


Just like with health, these schools are listed according to the area of scientific expertise which is then broken down further into sub-categories. The sciences include biological, chemistry, computer, earth, mathematics and physics.

However, there were two (nearly three) schools which faired well in all sciences. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford were among the top five schools for all six sciences. The University of California, Berkeley, also consistently made it to the top five expect in physics where it placed in sixth.

Other schools that were in the top five at least in one of the sciences included the California Institute of Technology; Harvard; Carnegie Mellon University; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Columbia; and Princeton.

Social Science and Humanities

Social science and humanities has seven programs within which schools can excel. These include criminology, economics, English, history, political science, psychology and sociology.

While there were some new schools included as contenders in these areas – University of Wisconsin – Madison and University of Chicago – there were also some of the old familiar – Harvard and Stanford.

What it all comes down to is deciding what you want from your college experience and which institution fits your needs. Then it's a matter of selecting the best graduate program for you.

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