What Are the Best Masters Programs in the U.S.?

A master's degree is the lowest-level graduate degree available to students who have already completed their bachelor's degrees. Master's degree programs are available in both professional and academic disciplines and can also lead to professional or doctorate degree programs.

Choosing a Master's Degree Program

Many factors go into selecting a master's program, including your professional goals, academic interests and whether or not you plan to pursue continued doctoral or professional study. Students typically choose their subject or field before they begin searching for specific programs. Master's degrees are available in almost every academic and professional area, from nursing to history to computer science.

Once you know either the specific topic or general field that you would like to study, it can be helpful to identify the top-ranked programs in that area. U.S. News & World Report ranks graduate schools based on discipline. Although it doesn't distinguish between master's and doctoral programs, most top-ranked schools in the U.S. News list include both.

Top Graduate Schools in the U.S.

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the following schools in their respective graduate fields of business, education, engineering and other areas of study. The following list shows some of the most popular fields along with graduate schools that rank highest in these fields of study.


In business, Stanford ranked #1 while Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania ranked #2 and #3, respectively.


John Hopkins received the #1 spot in education. Harvard came in second, while Stanford and Vanderbilt tied for third place.


MIT was awarded the #1 spot in engineering. Stanford placed in second; the University of California at Berkeley came in third.


Yale's graduate programs in law were ranked #1, while Harvard placed second and Stanford was awarded the #3 spot.


Harvard placed #1 in research, followed by Stanford. John Hopkins University and the University of California at San Francisco tied for third place. In primary care, the University of Washington took top honors, followed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California at San Francisco.


The University of Pennsylvania received top honors for its graduate nursing programs. John Hopkins University placed in second, followed by the University of California at San Francisco, in third.

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