Graduate Schools in Boston, Massachusetts with Program Information

There are over 40 schools offering graduate-level programs in the Boston area. See how four of the universities stack up against each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

The Boston area is home to many graduate schools, including some of the most well-known higher learning institutions in the nation. Students who want to earn graduate certificates, master's degrees or doctorates have roughly 45 universities and colleges to choose from in around the city. Only two of them are public schools, and about 93% are private non-profits. To aid prospective grad students in their education decision, this article compares four universities. The top three are ranked in the following categories:

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

Program Variety

Of the four compared, the universities below have the most academic programs available. The top three have more than 100 options on offer, with two of the institutions having well over that number. Grad students often are looking to advance their expertise in a field they already have a background in, and attending a school with a large variety of programs may provide the chance to pursue specializations within their chosen areas of study.

1. Boston University

Boston University offers a huge selection of academic programs to its undergraduate and graduate students. Through the private non-profit school's 425 programs, enrollees can pursue bachelor's degrees, graduate certificates, master's degrees and doctorates. Some of the graduate fields of study on offer at the Boston-based institution include international marketing, business administration, bioinformatics, health communication, education, foreign literature, law, forensic science, dentistry, medicine and arts management.

2. Northeastern University

Boston's Northeastern University is also a private non-profit school. It awards graduate certificates as well as degrees from the associate's to doctoral levels through its 209 program options. Grad students at Northeastern study subjects such as pharmacy, nursing, history, chemistry, counseling psychology, economics, college student counseling, engineering, finance and organizational leadership.

3. Harvard University

Harvard University is based out of nearby Cambridge. The private non-profit institution, which is part of the Ivy League, offers 109 academic programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees can pursue an education in ethnic studies, genetics, management information systems, educational administration, medicine, dentistry, statistics, law, astrophysics, music and art history, among other fields. Harvard offers associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in addition to graduate certificates.


One of the first things aspiring students look at when selecting a college or university is the impact studying there will have on their bank accounts. Students may be able to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses at accredited institutions by qualifying for institutional or governmental financial aid programs; graduate assistantships, loans and scholarships are some of the options available that provide monetary support. The universities that follow had the lowest 2013-2014 in-state graduate tuition among the compared schools, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

1. University of Massachusetts - Boston

The lone public school among the group, the University of Massachusetts in Boston offers undergraduate and graduate education. The institution appears just once among the rankings; it takes the top spot for its in-state grad tuition of $2,590. Out-of-state students in graduate programs paid $9,758 on average. Although these tuition rates are the lowest, the institution did charge annual graduate fees of $11,578.

2. Northeastern University

Ranking second in this category is Northeastern University. Its grad students, regardless of state residency, were charged an average tuition of $30,384. Average grad fees amounted to $258 for a year of enrollment.

3. Harvard University

Both in-state and out-of-state grad students attending Harvard had an average tuition bill of $38,888. In addition, all graduate students were required to pay fees of $958.

Graduation Rate

The graduation rates used to rank the profiled institutions come from data on undergrads who enrolled in fall 2007 and completed programs within 150% of normal time (NCES), which is considered six years for a student pursuing a bachelor's degree. The top three schools in this category all have high graduation rates, which is an indication that they likely provide an effective, high-quality education.

1. Harvard University

Harvard comes out on top for its high overall graduation rate of 97%. The school's fall 2012 to fall 2013 retention rate, which is based on first-time, full-time undergrads in bachelor's degree programs, was also 97% (NCES). These near-100% percentages suggest that the majority of students have a favorable view of their academic experience at Harvard.

2. Boston University

Boston University's graduation rate, 84%, is the second highest of the four schools. The institution also shows a strong ability to hold on to its existing students; 93% of first-time, full-time students in bachelor's degree programs during fall 2012 remained at the school the next year (NCES).

3. Northeastern University

With an overall graduation rate of 83%, Northeastern is almost tied with Boston University in this category. Of the first-time undergrads who pursued bachelor's degrees full time in fall 2012, 96% continued to study at the institution in the following academic year (NCES).

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Graduate students pursue advanced study and often engage in research projects, so getting regular one-on-one attention and feedback from professors can be vital to their success. Colleges and universities that maintain low student-to-faculty ratios are better equipped to provide that important personal attention to students. According to the NCES, the following schools have the lowest of these ratios among those profiled.

1. Harvard University

Harvard also leads the top three in this category; it has a ratio of just seven students for every one member of faculty. In 2013, there were 4,033 full-time and 453 part-time faculty members working at the university (NCES). Although the majority had primarily teaching duties, more than 2,000 held research and public service positions.

2. Boston University

Serving over 32,000 students, Boston University maintains a low 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. According to the NCES, 3,678 teaching faculty members and 814 research professionals worked at the institution in 2013 (NCES). About 71% of the faculty were employed full-time.

3. Northeastern University

Northeastern University also has a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, but it falls to the bottom of the top three due to the size of its population in comparison to Boston University's student body; it has around 20,000 students enrolled. In the fall of 2013, Northeastern employed 1,166 full-time and 412 adjunct faculty members; the vast majority had instructional duties (NCES).

Boston Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Boston University Boston, MA Private non-profit Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #2 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Harvard University Cambridge, MA Private non-profit Graduate certificates; associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #3 in Program Variety, #3 in Tuition, #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Northeastern University Boston, MA Private non-profit Graduate certificates; associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #2 in Program Variety, #2 in Tuition, #3 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Massachusetts - Boston Boston, MA Public Undergraduate and graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees #1 in Tuition

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