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Masters Program Rankings by Field of Study

Selecting a graduate school is an important decision that can affect the rest of your life. With so many master's programs available, finding the right school can be overwhelming. An independent, reliable source for master's program rankings by field of study is available.

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There are twelve subjects in which U.S. News & World Report ranks graduate-level programs. It can be helpful for prospective graduate students to look at the top schools in each field.

Commonly Ranked Master's Degree Programs

U.S. News & World Report provides a listing each year of the top-ranked graduate programs in the country. This rankings report includes over 1,900 schools and covers 12 major fields of study, along with subspecialties within each one. Subspecialty rankings allow a prospective social sciences and humanities graduate student, for example, to look up the top history programs and then find the best ranked African, European, Asian, U.S. or modern history program.

The 12 major subjects in which U.S. News & World Report ranks schools are:

  • Business
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Science
  • Social sciences and humanities
  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Library and information studies
  • Public affairs
  • Health
  • Fine arts
  • Nursing

About the Rankings

Methodology for Rankings

Programs are ranked by peer quality assessments, student selectivity (test scores) and placement success after graduation. There are additional rankings that are field-appropriate. For example, the law school rankings include bar passage rate, and medical school rankings include research activity and primary-care rate. The fields of science, social science and humanities, health, public affairs and fine arts are ranked solely on the results of the peer assessment survey.

Peer Assessment Survey

The peer assessment surveys are sent to deans, senior faculty members, program directors, residency directors and judges of accredited schools and programs. These professionals are asked to rate the quality of programs for each institution in their field. The ratings are marginal (1), adequate (2), good (3), strong (4) or outstanding (5). It's important to note that not all of the surveys that are sent out are returned or have enough data to be included in the calculations.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Rankings By Field of Study

Here are the most current top three ranked schools in each category:

Business (2018)

At the master's degree level, business students can earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or another type of master's degree. The top-ranked schools are:

  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Chicago

Education (2018)

Teachers and educational administrators alike can benefit from master's degree programs in education. These schools offer excellent programs:

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California - Los Angeles (tie)
  • University of Pennsylvania (tie)
  • University of Wisconsin--​Madison (tie)

Engineering (2018)

Master's degree programs in engineering can prepare students for work in research or industry. Some of the best programs in the country are offered by:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stanford University
  • University of California - Berkeley

Law (2018)

Experienced lawyers who have already earned a J.D. can enroll in a Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in a particular subspecialty area of interest. Here are some of the schools with the best programs:

  • Yale University
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University

Medicine (2018)

Although medical schools typically offer Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees, some also provide research-focused master's degree programs. U.S. News & World Report considers these to be the best medical research schools in the country:

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Johns Hopkins University

Nursing (2018)

Registered nurses who wish to advance their careers can find a variety of master's-level options. Here are three schools to consider:

  • Duke University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Pennsylvania

Fine Arts (2016)

The schools offering the best graduate programs in fine arts are:

  • Yale University
  • University of California - Los Angeles
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

Health (2015)

Aside from nursing and medicine, these schools offer excellent health education, in topics like health care management:

  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • University of Alabama - Birmingham
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (tie)
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (tie)

Public Affairs (2016)

The top-ranked public affairs schools are:

  • Indiana University - Bloomington
  • Syracuse University
  • Harvard University

Science (2014)

This category encompasses topics ranging from biology to mathematics to earth science. For chemistry, the best programs can be found at:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California - Berkeley

Social Sciences and Humanities (2017)

Like the Science category, this is a very broad category, but the top three schools in political science are:

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Library and Information Studies (2017)

For individuals who are interested in information management and archiving systems, here are some of the best schools:

  • University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
  • University of Washington
  • University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

For individuals who are looking to find master's degree program rankings by field of study, it can be helpful to look at the rankings of U.S. News & World Report, which ranks programs based on criteria like peer review.

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