best graduate schools colleges

10 Best Graduate Schools in 2020

A bachelor’s degree gives you access to numerous career pathways. However, if you are leaning toward high-paying careers and high-level positions that emphasize advanced responsibility, authority, and expertise, a graduate degree is your asset.

GSC_Top Grad Schools

As the professional job market becomes highly dynamic, working adults consider advancing their education by pursuing graduate study. While it does pose certain risks, graduate education presents an option that can significantly impact and improve your career choices.

Graduate study cannot be taken lightly. As you make that decision, finding a reputable doctorate program and institution is crucial. Choose a graduate school that is well-recognized as an institution of excellence for your preferred field of study.

Additional helpful links: Consider This: Why Go To Graduate School? and Grad School Debt: Everything You Need to Know


Settle for no less than the most reputable graduate schools! We rounded up the 10 best graduate colleges in the United States. Each of the 10 best graduate colleges, listed in no particular order, take pride in their programs that share these salient features:

  • Rigorous coursework and up-to-date program facilities
  • Proper accreditation
  • Alumni networking and professional experience appropriate to the graduate programs
  • Programs that highlight and enhance students’ research skills in preparation for Dissertation
  • An experienced faculty with recognized expertise or specialization in their field of study
  • Financial aid options, scholarships, and grants
  • Recognition from graduate associations and award-giving academic organizations
  • Positive student feedback and high student satisfaction rates

Navigate our list of the best graduate colleges in America:

Harvard University
Stanford University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.)
University of California-Berkeley
Yale University
University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA)
University of Pennsylvania
Northwestern University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Duke University

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Ph.D. African and African American Studies
Ph.D. Sociology
Ph.D. Public Policy
Ph.D. Molecular and Cell Biology
Master of Science in Engineering and Applied Sciences
Master of Science in Data Science
Ph.D. Immunology
Masters of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

Globally, Harvard University and Harvard Business School are top-ranking graduate schools. The university’s M.B.A. program is recognized as one of the world’s best. Harvard Business School graduates, in particular, are some of the most sought-after by employers and organizations across all industries. Harvard also runs Ph.D. and D.B.A. programs.

Harvard University is the nation’s oldest institution in higher education with three graduate schools offering master’s and doctorate programs in Design, Arts and Sciences, and Education. At Harvard, students get the best training and education from the country’s highly-skilled, leading educators who excel in their fields of study.

Harvard’s graduate students develop connections with the university’s vast network of alumni for mentoring and advising purposes.

Stanford University

Stanford, California

Popular Graduate Programs:

Ph.D. Business
Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)
Doctor of Medicine
Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) 
Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources 
Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.)
Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.)

Stanford University is considered one of the top graduate colleges in the country offering graduate programs in Education, Business, Medicine, and Engineering. It is known for its top-notch graduate program partnerships and exchange programs featuring equally graduate institutions.

Annually, Stanford University accepts students from 49 of the 50 states and more than 67 countries worldwide. Over the years, it has maintained a track record for excellent graduate programs in the areas of research and education. Today, Stanford sets the bar high with rigorous and highly selective programs for the most motivated and excellent minds to excel in a variety of fields.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Popular Graduate Programs:

M.I.T. Sloan Executive M.B.A. Program
Master’s in Architecture
M.I.T. Sloan, Ph.D. Program
Ph.D. in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering
Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) is a consistent academic leader in the areas of Engineering and the Sciences. The most popular graduate degree programs—namely Urban Studies, Architecture, Management, Humanities, and Social Sciences—produce the most competent professionals.

Today, M.I.T. graduates are the most sought-after professors, teaching assistants, and research assistants specializing in diverse areas, such as energy, oceanography, robotics, and cancer.

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Popular Graduate Programs:

Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.)
Ph.D. Buddhist Studies
M.B.A. Business Administration
Ph.D. Applied Mathematics
Masters of Urban Design (M.U.D.)
Ph.D. Comparative Literature
Masters of Development Practice (M.D.P.)
Ph.D. Rhetoric

The flagship university under the University of California system, the University of California-Berkeley is an Ivy League university. It is highly distinguished as a model of academic excellence in public higher education.

UC Berkeley’s graduate programs consistently make it to the national rankings. UC Berkeley graduate students—particularly those who earned their master’s degrees and doctorates in Public Health, Urban Design, Sociology, and Rhetoric—thrive in the professional environment. They are also research pioneers in the fields of Chemistry and Literature—all thanks to UC Berkeley’s commitment to academic superiority.

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Popular Graduate Degree Programs:

Advanced Professional M.P.H. Program
Master’s Nurse Practitioner: Family
Masters in Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. Internal Medicine
Masters in Criminal Law
Executive M.B.A. Finance

Yale University offers top-rated graduate programs in Law, Management, Fine Arts, and Nursing. The School of Drama, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Divinity School also run prestigious graduate programs that provide each student with outstanding training and education to enable them to make significant contributions to their fields.

Yale’s graduate student population, averaging 7,000 in any given period, is enrolled in the university’s 81 graduate programs that are all offered purely on-campus.

University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA)

Los Angeles, California

Popular Graduate Programs:

Computer Science
Electrical Engineering
Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
Math and Statistics
D.N.P. in Nursing
M.S.N. in Nursing
Social Work

Graduate degree programs are offered in about 80 professional and academic fields at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA).  It is best known for its excellent graduate programs in Electrical Engineering, Law, and Business. As one of the world’s top-ranking universities, UCLA takes pride in its top-notch program curricula, outstanding faculty, small class sizes for more focused instruction, and competitive tuition rates.

About 8% of UCLA’s graduate students work part-time and successfully meet the rigorous demands of the graduate programs. Consequently, the university’s graduate programs produce some of the top leaders and contributors in research.

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania         

Popular Graduate Programs:

Executive Master of Public Administration
International Master of Public Administration
Master of Applied Positive Psychology
Master of Behavioral & Decision Sciences
Master of Chemical Sciences
Master of Environmental Studies
Master of Liberal Arts
Master of Public Administration

As one of the world’s most prominent research universities, the University of Pennsylvania‘s advanced master’s programs that combine rigorous and hands-on training with personalized learning. The university’s graduate programs in Law, Nursing, Medicine, and Business dominate national and global rankings. The university is home to 170 research centers and institutes, including the Nanotechnology Institute, the Center for Neuroscience and Society, and the Center for Public Health Initiatives.

The University of Pennsylvania prides itself on top-notch Career Services that provide graduate students with the tools and resources for educational and professional advancement to raise their chances of landing the right careers following the completion of their graduate study. Penn has produced Nobel Prize winners, Supreme Court Justices, and billionaire industrialists.

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Popular Graduate Programs:

Predictive Analytics
Integrated Marketing Communications
Ph.D. Accounting Information and Management
Ph.D. African-American Studies
Ph.D. Audiology
Transportation Systems Analysis and Planning
M.P.H. Public Health
M.F.A. Prose and Poetry
Ph.D. Plant Biology and Conservation
Ph.D. Philosophy

Northwestern University is a leading institution for U.S. patents, having patented inventions and innovations in engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and robotics. The university offers master’s degrees and doctorate programs in over 70 fields.

Northwestern University provides a challenging yet supportive atmosphere for its graduate students. To promote workforce excellence, Northwestern runs education and career development programs through which counselors provide graduate student assistance to help them meet their career objectives.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Popular Graduate Programs:

Aerospace Engineering
Art and Design
Biological Chemistry (PIBS)
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis

Humanities and the Social Sciences courses are considered a core part of graduate education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The university also provides a wide range of technical and STEM graduate programs that produce the best-trained professionals who make significant contributions to their field.

The Rackham Graduate School works with the University of Michigan faculty to offer more than 180 graduate programs. The university also aims to focus on a dynamic intellectual environment where graduate students can excel.

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Popular Graduate Programs:

Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Physical Sciences and Engineering
Social Sciences

The M.B.A. programs at Duke University, delivered partly online, are known for their top-rated curricula that are designed to address contemporary business issues in global settings.

One of the country’s leading research institutions, Duke University is widely recognized for its diverse graduate programs. In delivering high-quality graduate training and education, Duke has world-renowned experts as faculty. The university keeps its graduate classes small to focus on giving each student the attention they need for an in-depth understanding of their discipline.

Every six years, Duke University conducts external reviews on its graduate and other programs. It is a strategy for evaluating the university’s research methods and teaching policies and ensuring that they maintain their highest quality and effectiveness.

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What are graduate school programs?

Graduate schools offer bachelor’s degree holders an opportunity to pursue advanced study. Graduate school programs offer master’s and doctorate degrees in various academic and professional fields like social work, psychology, medicine, and law. Students add a layer of prestige and expertise to their specialization as Doctors of Philosophy, Juris Doctors, and Masters of Arts upon completing their graduate study.

Graduate study requirements and admissions depend on your field of study and academic level. There are graduate schools that grant both degrees and certificates for specific disciplines. Usually, to apply and enroll for a degree or certificate program in a graduate school, students need to complete a recognized bachelor’s program from a fully accredited higher learning institution.

How much does a graduate school program cost?

The cost of a graduate school program depends on numerous factors. One of these is the duration of the program. Most graduate school degree programs can take two to three years to finish. For most, 30 credits are needed for graduation. Other considerations include the type of degree program, and whether a student needs to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Grad School FAQ

There are cases wherein a graduate school program, such as a master’s degree, is required for employment. A master’s or doctorate degree from a prestigious university or college can significantly boost your resume; thus, the investment pays off over time.

Tuition rates also vary depending on the program. The average cost of a master’s degree, for instance, is around $40,000 in most universities. Some cost less, while others—such as in the prestigious Stanford and Harvard universities—go as high as $120,000.

The cost of a graduate school program also depends on the where and how of your graduate study. Full-time graduate students who earn nine credits yearly may pay $10,957, but out-of-state students pay $20,616. In-state private and public university students generally pay less than their out-of-state counterparts.

What are the admission and graduation requirements for graduate school programs?

Most graduate school programs require similar documents for admission:

  • Personal statement
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Writing sample of original research
  • Official undergraduate transcript

Prospective graduate students also need to submit their scores from standardized tests, depending on the level or type of graduate program and area of study:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)- a commonly required admissions exam
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) – usually for graduate business degree programs
  • Dental Admission Test (DAT)
  • Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  • Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)

Graduation requirements usually depend on your program.

In particular, master’s degree students should meet the program’s credit requirements. This usually takes about two years of study but accelerated programs that can be completed in as fast as 12 months may be offered as well. Master’s degree programs would typically require students to conduct original research, and eventually present and defend a final thesis.

Non-thesis master’s degree programs usually require a comprehensive test or final report, as well as internships or field work.

Doctorate candidates usually concentrate on original research for the dissertation. They might also be required to complete some teaching requirements. Overall, doctorate programs usually take about five years for completion of full-time study.

Professional degree programs such as the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) programs for physicians and Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs for lawyers may require clinical or actual practical training.


All About the NAGPS – National Association of Graduate-Professional Students