It has become quite common for students to aim for graduate studies after earning their undergraduate degree. After all, learning never stops when one receives their diploma.
While an undergraduate education can give students a broad, general education that can catapult them to the career of their choice, a graduate degree can take it a step further by providing them advanced learning in a specialized discipline. This means they will acquire a more in-depth understanding of their area of study, helping them become experts in their chosen field.
The National Center for Education Statistics says some 3.0 million students were enrolled in post-baccalaureate degree programs, including master’s and doctoral degrees. The numbers are seen to rise by 3% between 2018 to 2029. In 2016, most first-time graduate students were enrolled in programs that would lead them to a graduate certificate or master’s degree at 83.4%. The doctoral degrees only have a share of 11.3%.
Why Do Students Go to Grad School?
Numerous reasons compel students to pursue a graduate study. It can be their way of improving their professional prospects or satisfy a degree requirement integral for their career. Some aim to deepen their knowledge in a particular field.
The field of healthcare, law, teaching, and social work all require an advanced degree before a professional can practice what they have learned. Others are doing it because it can help them gain ample skills and knowledge to land them promotions and better compensation at work. Professional development through earning a graduate degree can be quite rewarding.
Those who dream of advancing their careers through leadership and social impact can also benefit from acquiring a graduate degree. Research opportunities can lead to a deeper look at issues that pertain to people and social interest.
What Options are There for Students?
In the U.S., graduate schools across various disciplines are abundant. Mainly, there are two graduate degree options: a master’s degree and a doctoral degree, with each of them having their fair share of research and coursework.
Of course, to choose the best degree, one must first know what their graduate goal is and where it will lead them. Graduate programs are separated by areas and disciplines, ranging from business and law to engineering and social sciences. Pick the option that would best suit your field of study! Nurses seeking specializations in a certain area can acquire a master’s degree to give them substantial learning and training. The same goes for other specialized disciplines.
Even the savviest of (future) graduate students hit a roadblock when choosing the best graduate schools! The numerous options of online and traditional degree programs make it even more challenging! You need to research, come up with a shortlist based on numerous standard factors and personal preferences, and look into each of your choices to come up with an educated decision.
Picking the right grad school, as they say, is winning half the battle! Our researchers and writers at GradSchoolCenter.com put our skills to work to help narrow down the best choices for you!
To come up with the 100 Best Grad Schools in the U.S. in 2021, we applied these criteria: overall academic quality, reputation and distinctions, numerous program options, student assistance, and support services, impressive student outcomes, acceptance, enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, graduate school and program value, and student gratification and positive peer reviews.
SUPERIOR OVERALL ACADEMIC QUALITY
In the creation of this list, we consider the superior quality of education as a non-negotiable element. The graduate programs on this list should employ the latest and most strategic instructional principles and practices. Each graduate school is fully equipped with excellent facilities, tools, and instruments relevant to actual professional practice and workplace settings. Renowned faculty and personnel ensure top-quality. The class sizes and faculty-to-student ratio promote focused instruction and healthy engagement.
REPUTATION AND DISTINCTIONS
Nationally and globally recognized as a graduate school, and top-rated traditional and online graduate programs consistently make it in academic rankings.
NUMEROUS PROGRAM OPTIONS
Numerous graduate offerings in the master’s and doctorate levels, highlighting the many facets of the discipline.
STUDENT ASSISTANCE AND CAREER SUPPORT SERVICES
Graduate student performance is closely linked to the guidance and direction that they receive from the academic institution. On-campus and online graduate students both receive the support they need from professors. On this list, each of the graduate schools exposes students to opportunities for networking with alumni and partner organizations and private institutions for career development. Students also get acquainted with the professions they wish to pursue through experiential learning acquired through internship opportunities.
IMPRESSIVE STUDENT OUTCOMES
Alumni achievers characterize the best graduate schools. The success of graduate students in the pursuit of their craft depends on, among many factors, the education and training they receive throughout their graduate program.
ACCEPTANCE, ENROLLMENT, RETENTION, AND GRADUATION RATES
The standards for accepting incoming students, including GPA and GRE scores, as well as the number of students that stay in school and complete their graduate degrees are some indicators of top-quality graduate education.
GRADUATE SCHOOL AND PROGRAM VALUE
Top-rated programs that are worth the graduate tuition and fees.
STUDENT GRATIFICATION AND POSITIVE PEER REVIEWS
The general opinion of students and other academic organizations matter. The graduate schools on our list enjoy positive feedback from their students and alumni.
To emphasize a point, we utilize the latest and most relevant data from some of the best-recognized academic resources and databases, including the U.S. News and World Report and the NCES College Navigator.
Here are the 100 Best Grad Schools in the U.S. for 2021, placed in categories that include Business, Law, Engineering, Medical Research, Nursing, and Education.
Best Business Schools
* Booth School of Business – University of Chicago
* Harvard Business School – Harvard Business School
* Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University
* Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania
* University of California LA – UCLA Anderson School of Management
* The UCLA Anderson School of Management
* University of California Berkeley – Haas School of Business
* Stanford University – Graduate School of Business
* University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business
* Duke University – Fuqua School of Business
* Dartmouth College – Tuck School of Business
* Cornell University – Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
* Columbia University – Columbia Business School
* Darden School of Business – University of Virginia
* New York University – Leonard N Stern School of Business
* University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology – MIT Sloan School of Management
* Foster School of Business – University of Washington
* Yale University – Yale School of Management
* Scheller College of Business – Georgia Institute of Technology
* University of Texas Austin – McCombs School of Business
* University of North Carolina – Kenan-Flagler Business School
Best Law Schools
* Yale University Law School
* Stanford Law School
* Harvard Law School
* Columbia Law School
* Georgetown Law
* Vanderbilt Law School
* Emory Law
* Alabama Law
* Boston University School of Law
* University of Iowa College of Law
* Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
* Indiana University Bloomington, Maurer School of Law
* Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
* University of Wisconsin Law School
* Wake Forest Law
Best Medical Research Schools
* Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
* Yale School of Medicine
* University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine
* University of Michigan Medical School
* Stanford University School of Medicine
* Columbia University Irving Medical Center
* University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
* University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
* Cornell University Weill Cornell Medicine
* Purdue University School of Health Sciences
* New York University Grossman Medical School
* UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Best Engineering Schools
* Texas A&M University Engineering
* University of California – San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Engineering
* University of the Pacific School of Engineering and Computer Science
* Princeton University School of Engineering and Applied Science
* University of Maryland – College – A. James Clark Park School of Engineering
* Texas Tech University – Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering
* San Diego State University College of Engineering
* Duke University – Pratt School of Engineering
* Kansas State University – Carl R. Ice College of Engineering
* University of West Florida – Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering
* Tennessee Technological University – College of Engineering
* Lamar University – College of Engineering
* New Mexico State University – College of Engineering
* West Virginia University Institute of Technology – Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences
* Oklahoma State University – College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology
* California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – College of Engineering
* University of Houston – Cullen College of Engineering
* North Carolina State University at Raleigh – College of Engineering
* Missouri University of Science and Technology – College of Engineering
Best Nursing Schools
* University of Southern Indiana – College of Nursing and Health Professions
* Delta State University – Robert E. Smith School of Nursing
* South Dakota State University – College of Nursing
* University of Southern Mississippi – College of Nursing and Health Professions
* University of Central Arkansas – School of Nursing
* University of Maine – School of Nursing
* East Tennessee State University – College of Nursing
* University of Toledo – College of Nursing
* University of West Georgia – Tanner Health System School of Nursing
* Clayton State University – School of Nursing
* Stony Brook University – School of Nursing
* University of Rhode Island – College of Nursing
* University of Arkansas – The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing
* Western Kentucky University – School of Nursing and Allied Health
* University of Mississippi – School of Nursing
* University of Connecticut – School of Nursing
* Northwestern State University of Louisiana – College of Nursing
* Ball State University – School of Nursing
* Winona State University – College of Nursing and Health Sciences
* University of Nebraska Medical Center – College of Nursing
* West Virginia University – School of Nursing
* Stockton University – School of Health Sciences
* University of Wyoming – Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing
Best Education Schools
* Florida State University – College of Education
* Arizona State University – Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
* University of Minnesota – College of Education and Human Development
* New York University – Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
* University of Maryland, College Park – College of Education
* Boston College’s Lynch School of Education
* Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development
* Brown University Department of Education
* University of Miami School of Education
* University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – College of Education
Best Business Schools
Students who earn some of the highest wages in the country are MBA degree holders and have some other graduate degrees in business up their sleeves. It is a good stepping stone for career advancement, leading to management-level positions and possible promotions.
A graduate degree in business is also a good way to forge connections, meeting new people from relevant companies and industries. The strong networking support from career services departments means a wealth of opportunities after graduation. Business degree programs for graduate students come in different shapes and sizes. Some are available for full-time and part-time students. Most require one to attend classes on-campus, but recent years have seen an increase in online classes. In these programs, students usually touch on various business principles, from accounting and economics to finance and marketing.
Get to know more about the country’s best schools for a graduate degree in Business.
Booth School of Business – University of Chicago
As one of the leading business schools in the U.S., the University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers some of the best MBA, Ph.D., and Executive Education programs for the best and the brightest minds. They aim to transform students through their analytical, enduring style of business education.
One has the option to earn degree programs full-time or part-time. They have various concentrations, ranging from accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, international business, general management, marketing, management information system, public policy, and operations research, among many others. A prominent research institution, the business school, boasts a network of more than 160 research centers, institutes, and committees worldwide.
It is the only U.S. campus to have permanent campuses on three continents, with campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong. Some of their most distinguished alumni include Richard Thaler, Eric Gleacher, Satya Nadella, and James M. Kilts.
Harvard Business School – Harvard Business School
With a long tradition of shaping business worldwide, the Harvard Business School is known for cultivating and nurturing business leaders to select master’s and doctoral programs. They also have joint degree programs with other Harvard schools like the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School.
Their MBA programs tackle everything from business, economics, and the international economy to finance leadership and corporate accountability. For Ph.D., students can choose from the following programs: accounting and management, business economics, health policy, management, marketing, strategy, and many more.
A highly competitive graduate business school, Harvard consistently makes it in worldwide school rankings. It produced some of the most brilliant business leaders, including Jeffrey R. Immelt, Meg Whitman, and James D. Wolfensohn.
Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
The Kellogg School of Management has always been at the forefront of transforming business education since 1908. Boasting a vibrant community of staff, students, and alumni, this graduate school showcases a rigorous academic experience with a healthy blend of practice and theory to create a dynamic research and learning environment.
It has seven campuses worldwide, spanning comprehensive fields and concentrations, including accounting, finance, economics, health care administration, marketing, leadership, public administration, technology, operations research, and so much more. Their MBA and Ph.D. programs are available full-time and part-time, including classes in the evenings and on Saturdays. Some of the graduate school’s most notable alumni include Christopher Galvin, Roshni Nadar, Thomas J. Wilson, and Ali Babacan.
Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania
One of the leading Ivy League business schools, Wharton School, provides a place for visionaries, inventors, and trailblazers to jumpstart their journey in the world of business. Offering a broad range of business academic programs, Wharton aims to create transformative educational experiences through their MBA and doctoral programs, encompassing economics, international business, management and technology, accounting, finance, marketing, statistics, and operations and information management. Many employers consider its rigorous finance program as the standard. Wharton has six campuses, including one in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Beijing, France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi.
It has been known to have the largest alumni network in the U.S. Some of the most prominent graduates include Warren Buffet, Ruth Porat, John Sculley, Ronald Perelman.
University of California LA – UCLA Anderson School of Management
The UCLA Anderson School of Management takes pride in shaping the next best generation of business leaders with its top-of-the-line Master of Business Administration program. Students gain exceptional business acumen through the rigorous MBA curricula and courses for superior business skills and business leadership that future professionals must possess. UCLA Anderson emphasizes “academic, professional and cultural diversity” in its full-time MBA program, Fully-Employed MBA (FEMBA) program, and executive MBA (EMBA) program.
The country’s prestigious organizations and companies, such as Google, Goldman Sachs, and
Boston Consulting Group have business experts on board who–you guessed it–are UCLA Anderson MBA graduates!
University of California Berkeley – Haas School of Business
Haas School of Business, the second oldest business school in the country, emphasizes shaping their academic culture to redefine innovative business leadership, allowing their students the chance to develop their mindset and behaviors.
Its faculty have Nobel-Prize winning research and economic and management insights valuable in the school’s highly ranked programs. Their offered graduate degrees include MBAs that are available full-time and part-time as well as a master’s degree in financial engineering. The Ph.D. programs are available in six fields of study: Accounting, Business and Public Policy, Finance, Marketing, Management of Organizations, and Real Estate. Apart from its rigorous academic graduate programs, Haas is also known for its many institutes and centers that support innovative faculty research and educational programs for its students. Some of them are the Center for Open Innovation, Energy Institute, and Clausen Center for International Business and Policy.
Haas has produced brilliant minds in business, including Shantanu Narayen, Paul Otellini, Donald Fisher, Barbara K. Desoer, and Bob Lutz.
Stanford University – Graduate School of Business
As a prestigious university not only in the U.S. but also in the world, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is hard to get into, boasting the lowest acceptance rate. It aims to advance and deepen the understanding of management and produce innovative, principled, and insightful business leaders who can transform the world. Students who want to pursue further education can consider the school’s MBA and Ph.D. programs.
With a great emphasis on academic rigor, interdisciplinary studies, and community engagement, the programs have various concentrations, including accounting, general management, economics, e-commerce, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, health care administration, marketing, and many more. The school also boasts a great network of alumni for its graduates. Some of the most notable personalities who have walked through its doors include Phil Knight, Penny Pritzker, Mary Barra, and Seth Godin.
University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business
In 2018, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business ranked number four in Financial Times’ list of business schools in America. The school is known for its action-based learning that prepares future business leaders in an ever-evolving world. They have an entire suite of MBA programs that can suit the needs of each graduate student, including full-time, executive, and global options. Some of the fields of study available in Ross School’s MBA programs include accounting, management, supply chain management, finance, health care administration, marketing, and many more. Most of these degrees are highly esteemed by employers, with most of the graduates receiving job offers within six months of graduation. Many brilliant minds graduated from Stephen M. Ross School of Business, including prominent businessmen like Bharat Desai, Brad Keywell, Bill Davidson, Jerry White, and many more.
Duke University – Fuqua School of Business
Known for its leadership style of education where people of differing viewpoints come together to inspire entire organizations, the Fuqua School of Business offers ten business degree programs designed for working professionals and working students. Their MBA programs have various options, including full-time, global executive, weekend, and online. Aside from the MBA programs, graduate students can also consider other master’s degree programs in other fields, including management and quantitative management. They also have a doctoral research program in Business Administration, a good choice for pursuing research and teaching careers.
Duke University holds a distinction of fostering long-standing relationships with firms in key industries such as health care, financial services, consulting, technology, consumer goods, energy and the environment, and media and a focus on entrepreneurship and social impact. This means a huge network of alumni for its graduate students. Notable alumni who passed through the halls of Fuqua School of Business include Tim Cook, Melinda Gates, John A. Allison, and Jack O. Bovender.
Dartmouth College – Tuck School of Business
Unlike other business schools, Tuck School of Business is offering purely full-time MBA programs. The MBA programs in Tuck is more rigorous, all designed to push students further than they thought possible and eventually shaping them into curious, creative leaders. Their academic experience includes team-based project work combined with case-based courses and research-to-practice seminars. Tuck’s core curriculum provides rigorous coverage of key functional areas and disciplines, including analytics, corporate finance and capital markets, managerial and global economics, marketing, organizational behavior, strategy, communications, and operations.
Tuck has produced many notable alumni, including prominent business people like Christopher A. Sinclair, Janet L. Robinson, and Tina Smith.
Cornell University – Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
Consistently ranked as a top business school globally, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management prepares its graduates for career advancement across numerous industries. Importantly, the university also influences its students to give a wide-reaching, positive impact on the career of their choice. The school stands out in the fields of entrepreneurship, consulting, technology, and investment banking, and asset management. Their MBA and Ph.D. programs are designed for the various needs of students, offering the perfect fit for every graduate who wants to invest in their career and future. For doctoral programs, students can choose from six primary areas of study, including accounting, strategy and business economics, finance, marketing, management and organizations, and operations, technology, and information management.
This school of business also offers access to networks throughout the academic program and even post-graduation, including engaging with alumni, industry leaders, and faculty researchers and practitioners. Some of the school’s most notable alumni include John Hillen, Byron Grote, Dan Hesse, Monty Bennett, Demir Sabancı, and Bill Lipschutz.
Columbia University – Columbia Business School
Committed to educating and producing the next enterprise leaders, Columbia Business School offers MBAs, master’s degree programs, Ph.D., and executive education to its diverse and entrepreneurial students. They take pride in their renowned faculty members who cultivate a culture of academic excellence through their transformative and ever-evolving curriculum. The MBA programs offer career-focused paths, covering a vast array of areas, including accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, management, healthcare and pharmaceutical, marketing, media and technology, and social enterprise, among many others. Columbia also provides ample opportunities for its students to find support through its large network of alumni.
Among its most notable alumni include Warren Buffett, Henry Kravis, Sallie Krawcheck, Vikram Pandit, Mario Gabelli, and Xavier Rolet
Darden School of Business – University of Virginia
Committed to helping shape responsible business and leadership, Darden School of Business is one of the leaders in public higher education. Their wide array of degree programs include MBAs, executive education, and master’s, and Ph.D.
They boast a rigorous core curriculum, with concentrations in asset management, sales and trading, corporate finance and investment banking, entrepreneurship, marketing, supply chain management, business development and growth, and innovation for sustainability, among many others. On top of their traditional degree programs, Darden also offers online courses to empower anyone, anywhere with new business skills and cutting-edge knowledge.
Some of its most noteworthy alumni include Mark Sanford, Steven Reinemund, John Strangfeld, and George David.
New York University – Leonard N Stern School of Business
With its high caliber of faculty across a vast range of business disciplines, the Leonard N Stern School of Business boasts robust course offerings and specializations with its graduate programs MBA, Master’s, Ph.D., and Executive Education. NYU’s MBAs are available in several options, including full-time, tech, dual, and part-time. There is also a specialized MBA for those who want to go in-depth in fashion and luxury. Other concentrations in their academic programs include accounting, consulting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, general management, leadership, and many more. Their master of science in quantitative management program is also available online, along with various certificates.
Many of Stern’s alumni are remarkable in their fields, including Henry Kaufman, Robert Greifeld, Kenneth Langone, Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, and Alan Greenspan.