U.S. News releases best Graduate Schools of 2016

Methodology updated for law schools; tuition and enrollment changes calculated for each discipline.

usnews-graduate-rankingsAccording to U.S. News & World Report, what makes graduate schools “the best” in certain disciplines needs to take into account job placement data.

The publication today released the “2016 Best Graduate Schools” rankings. The 2016 edition features information and rankings for what U.S. News says is the largest professional graduate school disciplines–business, law, education, engineering and medicine–as well as specialty rankings within each discipline.

New this year, U.S. News expanded the nursing programs rankings and updated the law school methodology to better account for employment rates among new graduates.

The methodology for law schools has been updated so that they received less credit for employing their own new graduates. In last year’s rankings, university-funded or school-funded jobs had been fully weighted in the law schools methodology. Non-university-funded long-term jobs where bar passage is required and a J.D. degree was an advantage were the only jobs that got 100 percent credit in the U.S. News employment success calculations because the publication believes these positions are the most highly desired jobs for new graduates.

Employment success makes up 18 percent of the overall ranking. It’s determined by calculating employment rates for graduates at graduation, which count for 4 percent of the overall ranking, and at nine months after graduation, which count for 14 percent.

“For new J.D. graduates, being employed by their law school or holding a university-funded job is less desirable than being employed more permanently in a law firm, in government or in a corporation,” explained Robert Morse, director of Data Research for U.S. News.

According to a recent report by the American Bar Association, jobs funded by the law school or university tend to be temporary, where “the graduate is not committed to the job even for the full year, but rather is free to take a more attractive job if one appears (and this is the outcome that the school and the student hope will occur).”

“The ABA is therefore considering enacting new reporting standards to clearly distinguish school-funded jobs from other types of jobs so that prospective students are aware of the difference,” said Morse. “Still, U.S. News believes that these law-school-funded positions have some value, since being employed in a law-related job is preferable for new graduates than not working in the legal field or being unemployed. Therefore, these jobs will still be partially factored into the rankings.”

(Next page: The 2016 Best Graduate Schools)

The six graduate disciplines that U.S. News ranks annually are evaluated on factors that include standardized test scores of newly enrolled students, employment outcomes for graduates, acceptance rates and other criteria. Because each graduate program is different, the rankings methodology varies across disciplines.

According to U.S. News, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University was named the No. 1 full-time MBA program in the country, followed by Harvard Business School at No. 2 and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania at No. 3. The top three business programs were previously tied. Among part-time MBA programs, the Haas School of Business at the University of California—Berkeley returned as No. 1.

In the law school rankings, Yale University held onto its No. 1 spot, while Harvard University and Stanford University tied for second.

Harvard is again the No. 1 medical school for research, with Stanford holding onto the second spot.

The newly expanded nursing school rankings–what the publication says is the first ratings of their kind to use “reputational and statistical indicators”–offer guidance to the increasing number of nursing students interested in advanced practice, teaching and other specialized skills. The University of Pennsylvania was named the top nursing master’s program, with the University of California—San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University tied for No. 2.

The complete version of the new Best Graduate Schools rankings, which includes the full data with extended rankings, will be exclusively available online in the U.S. News Graduate School Compass. To learn more about the U.S. News Graduate School Compass or to order a copy of the “Best Graduate Schools 2016” guidebook, visit the online U.S. News Store. To join the Best Graduate Schools discussion on social media, visit Facebook or Twitter and use the #BestGradSchools hashtag.

For full list of rankings, visit

(Next page: Tuition and enrollment changes)

New this year, the publication reported historical data on changes in enrollment and tuition, per general discipline, at private versus public graduate schools and universities from 2005-2015.

Overall, U.S. News says the data gathered reveals that tuition has gone up in each discipline, with “significant increases seen in public graduate schools rates.” Enrollment has also gone up in business, medical and engineering fields. However, education and law “have seen a downturn in enrollment. Both public and private law schools and universities have seen enrollment drop, while tuition has grown significantly.”

According to U.S. News‘ analysis of historical data sources:

Law schools: Overall enrollment decreased by 7 percent, with private school enrollment dropping 5 percent and public dropping 9 percent. Overall tuition increased by 79 percent, with private school tuition increasing 66 percent and public increasing 120 percent.

Business schools: Overall enrollment remained even, with private school enrollment increasing 4 percent and public dropping 5 percent. Overall tuition increased by 88 percent, with private school tuition increasing 72 percent and public increasing 128 percent.

Medical schools: Overall enrollment increased by 11 percent, with private school enrollment increasing  6 percent and public increasing 16 percent. Overall tuition increased 67 percent, with private school tuition increasing 56 percent and public increasing 86 percent.

Engineering schools: Overall enrollment increased 38 percent, with private school enrollment increasing 66 percent and public increasing 28 percent. Overall tuition increased 54 percent, with private school tuition increasing 47 percent and public increasing 73 percent.

Education schools: Overall enrollment decreased by 17 percent, with private school enrollment dropping 33 percent and public dropping 8 percent. Overall tuition increased by 68 percent, with private school tuition increasing 27 percent and public increasing 84 percent.

When eCampus News asked U.S. News to provide data on tuition and enrollment for the top graduate universities listed for each main discipline noted [Business, Law, Nursing and Medical]-though U.S. News couldn’t provide historical data on Nursing schools due to lack of data availability-tuition at these top schools mirror national data on each discipline; enrollment deviated:

Yale University Law: From 2005 to 2015, enrollment increased by 43 students. Tuition increased by $20,800.

Stanford University MBA: From 2005 to 2015, enrollment increased by 32 students. Tuition increased by $23,298.

Harvard University Medical: From 2005 to 2015, enrollment declined by 18 students. Tuition increased by $18,805.

Material from a press release was used in this report.