Rankings can only tell you so much about a school or program. Don’t choose a degree program based on how high the program you’re considering appears in a published list. Use your own criteria to judge whether a graduate school is right for you.
Do some research. Ask questions. Talk to professors, current and former students. Know what you are getting into in advance. Graduate school is a serious investment that is not to be taken lightly. It’s a decision that goes beyond national rankings.
If you want a general reference, though, graduate school rankings can help guide you. The following rankings were all taken from the 2007 version of US News and World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools (although some rankings are based on assessments completed in previous years). Use these rankings as a guide, but don’t base your final graduate school decision on a list of rankings.
The top five law degrees are Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and New York University.
The top five medical research graduate programs are Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California-San Francisco, and Washington University in St. Louis. The top five primary care graduate programs are the University of Washington, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Oregon Health and Science University, Michigan State University-College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the University of Massachusetts-Worcester.
The top five graduate business programs are Harvard, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania-Wharton, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Sloan, and Northwestern University-Kellogg.
The top five undergraduate engineering programs are MIT, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.
The top five graduate programs in education are Harvard, Teachers College of Columbia University, UCLA, Stand Ford, and Vanderbilt.
The top three English-taught graduate programs are Harvard UC Berkeley and Yale.
The top five business graduate programs are MIT, University of Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.
The top three psychology graduate programs are Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Michigan.
The top three graduate programs in history are Yale, Princeton and UC Berkeley.
The top three graduate programs in political science are Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Use these rankings as a starting point for further investigation. Find out which schools are strong in the areas you want to study. Look for a graduate school that fits your individual educational and professional goals. Look into your options so you know what to expect. Make campus visits. Ask about funding and research opportunities. Find out as much as possible before enrolling in any degree program.