East Coast Graduate Schools with Degree Program Information

There are hundreds of universities in the East Coast states offering graduate education. Read about four of the largest schools and how they compare to each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

Students seeking a graduate education can find school options in small towns, large cities and everything in between on the East Coast. Public and private schools offer both traditional and distance education at the graduate certificate, master's and doctoral programs. Options range from state universities to liberal arts colleges to Ivy League schools. To help students find the right school, this article compares four of the largest schools on the East Coast, ranking the top three of those in the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Even if students already have a field of study they want to pursue, having a variety of specializations within a graduate program can ensure they're receiving the education they need to meet their learning goals. Based on data from the NCES College Navigator, the following schools offer the most program options among the four compared schools, each has over 100 programs:

1. Pennsylvania State University

Located in the center of the state in University Park, PA, Penn State's main campus offers 217 fields of study. Graduate programs available include postbaccalaureate and graduate certificates, master's degrees and doctoral degrees as well as dual-degree and intercollege graduate majors. Some fields of study offered include business, natural sciences, engineering, English, computer sciences, education and healthcare.

2. University of Florida

At its main campus in Gainesville, FL, the University of Florida provides education in about 183 fields, including agricultural and life sciences, business, medicine and dentistry, engineering, education, journalism and law. Graduate certificate programs are available in almost every field, including pharmacy, foreign languages and public health. Master's and doctoral candidates can opt to include concentrations and/or field research as a supplement to their program.

3. Rutgers University

The New Brunswick, NJ, campus of Rutgers offers 147 major fields of study and 494 graduate concentrations. Programs include diploma, master's, doctoral and non-degree options in education, natural sciences, business, engineering, health sciences, social work and the humanities. Rutgers' 16 professional schools range from arts and medicine to communications and psychology.


Cost is an important consideration when choosing a graduate school. The NCES College Navigator provides the average in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for the graduate level. The following schools had the lowest graduate tuition rates for the 2013-2014 academic year among the four schools compared.

1. George Mason University

With the main campus in Fairfax, VA, George Mason University (GMU) also offers graduate education at campuses in Arlington and Prince William. The average in-state graduate tuition was $9,350, while out-of-state tuition averaged $25,754. Rates vary based on the program selected, and students could also have to pay additional fees. Students can offset the costs through scholarships, fellowships and other financial aid options.

2. University of Florida

The average graduate tuition rate for in-state students was $10,770 and $27,335 for out-of-state students. The school offers campus employment opportunities, scholarships, assistantships and fellowships to help defray the costs. Doctoral students also have awards available as additional funding sources as they work on their dissertations.

3. Rutgers University

NCES averaged the graduate tuition for Rutgers at $15,552 for in-state students and $25,704 for out-of-state students. Each college sets its own per-credit tuition rate for graduate students, and other fees are required for housing and other expenses. The school offers several options for financial aid to graduate and professional students.

Graduation Rate

Though the NCES only reports graduate rates for undergraduate students, the statistics can indicate the quality of education available at the school. The three schools below represent the highest overall graduation rates for bachelor's degree students who started in 2007 and graduated within 150% of the normal time frame from among the four profiled schools.

1. University of Florida

Around 87% of bachelor's-seeking Florida Gators graduated within a 6-year period in, and 65% graduated within four years. Additionally, the majority of students have been satisfied with their educational quality - 96% of full-time students enrolled in a second year in 2013.

2. Pennsylvania State University

Penn State graduated 85% of its undergrads within six years of starting their programs. However, the school awarded bachelor's degrees after four years to 65% of students. The majority of undergraduates (92%) in 2012 returned to the school in the Fall of 2013.

3. Rutgers University

The overall graduation rate for undergrads at this school was 80%, while 57% completed their degree in four years. Still, a high 91% of first-year students returned to continue their education at Rutgers in 2013.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Getting individual attention and assistance from professors can be vital to getting the best education possible. Out of the four schools compared, the following three showed the lowest student-faculty ratios, according to 2013 data from the NCES

1. Rutgers University

With an average of 14 students for every faculty member, students at Rutgers should have a fairly easy time getting personal attention from their professors. The NCES reported that the school employed 3,965 full-time and 2,519 part-time faculty, in addition to 1,773 graduate assistants, in 2013.

2. George Mason University

GMU's 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio also provides ample one-on-one instructor time. In 2013, the school had 1,431 full-time faculty and 1,125 part-time faculty. Students seeking help with coursework, research or other program or college-related issues could also get assistance from the 1,297 graduate assistants available.

3. Pennsylvania State University

At a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Penn State also offers small class sizes to give students the individual attention they need. The 3,295 full-time and 1,199 part-time faculty in 2013 served a student body of over 46,000 students. The school had a large pool of graduate assistants, employing 3,901 that year.

East Coast Schools: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool TypePrograms OfferedArea Ranking
George Mason University Fairfax, VA Public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; graduate certificates#1 in Lowest Tuition, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA Public Undergraduate and graduate certificates; associate, bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees#1 in Program Variety, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ Public Undergraduate and graduate certificates; associate, bachelor's, masters and doctoral degrees#3 in Program Variety, #3 in Lowest Tuition, #3 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Florida Gainesville, FL Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees#2 in Program Variety, #2 in Lowest Tuition, #1 in Graduation Rate

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