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2021 Best Master's Degree Schools

782 Schools Ranked
$42,682 Avg Student Debt

When it comes to higher education, there are a lot of options for students. Along with traditional schools that require in-person attendence, you can attend one of many reputable online schools. Some programs even offer a hybrid experience. Also, there are a number of trade schools and bootcamp with offerings that you might find attractive.

To assist you in seeing some of the education options that are available to you, Course Advisor has created its Best Master's Degree Schools ranking. This report analyzed 782 schools in the United States to see which ones offered the best master's degree programs for students. To come up with a school's ranking, we analyzed numerous factors related to post-graduation wages, the quality of education offered by the school, average accumulated student debt, and more.

View our full ranking methodology.

Top Master's Degree Schools in the United States

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts
$57,059 Average Tuition & Fees
$40,589 Avg Student Debt

Our analysis found Massachusetts Institute of Technology to be the best school for students who want to pursue a master’s degree in the United States.

On average, master’s degree students take out $40,589 in loans while pursuing their degree.

MIT does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In fact, around 1% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Full Massachusetts Institute of Technology Report

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#2

Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire
$55,947 Average Tuition & Fees
$66,642 Avg Student Debt

Out of the 782 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Dartmouth College landed the # 2 spot on the list.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $66,642 in student loans.

One thing to take note of is that Dartmouth does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In 2017-2018 about 6% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

Full Dartmouth College Report

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#3

Stanford University

Stanford, California
$53,151 Average Tuition & Fees
$51,487 Avg Student Debt

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Stanford University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Master’s Degree Schools list.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $51,487 in student loans.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at Stanford. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 9% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#4

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana
$55,380 Average Tuition & Fees
$65,795 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree programs at University of Notre Dame helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the United States.

Master’s Degree recipients from Notre Dame accumulate an average of $65,795 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Notre Dame does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In 2017-2018 about 8% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#5

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois
$56,567 Average Tuition & Fees
$67,409 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree programs at Northwestern University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the United States.

On average, master’s degree students take out $67,409 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Online graduate courses are available at Northwestern U, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. During the 2017-2018 year, about 5% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#6

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina
$56,888 Average Tuition & Fees
$75,057 Avg Student Debt

Duke University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #6 on the list.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $75,057 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Duke, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In 2017-2018 about 10% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#7

Rice University

Houston, Texas
$49,403 Average Tuition & Fees
$32,414 Avg Student Debt

Rice University came in at #7 in this year’s edition of the Best Master’s Degree Schools ranking.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $32,414 in student loans.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Rice. In fact, around 1% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Full Rice University Report

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#8

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts
$49,214 Average Tuition & Fees
$53,599 Avg Student Debt

Harvard University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #8 on the list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Harvard accumulate an average of $53,599 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Harvard. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 20% took at least some of their classes online.

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#9

Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island
$58,180 Average Tuition & Fees
$37,555 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #9, Brown University did quite well on this year’s best schools for students working on their master’s degree.

On average, master’s degree students take out $37,555 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Full Brown University Report

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#10

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut
$43,300 Average Tuition & Fees
$47,239 Avg Student Debt

Yale University ranked #10 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Yale accumulate an average of $47,239 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

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#11

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
$61,548 Average Tuition & Fees
$56,291 Avg Student Debt

University of Chicago landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree programs.

Master’s Degree recipients from UChicago accumulate an average of $56,291 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Full University of Chicago Report

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#12

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
$40,182 Average Tuition & Fees
$70,872 Avg Student Debt

University of Pennsylvania landed the #12 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree programs.

Master’s Degree recipients from UPenn accumulate an average of $70,872 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at UPenn. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 3% took at least some of their classes online.

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#13

Medical University of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
$17,718 Average Tuition & Fees
$83,344 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #13, Medical University of South Carolina did quite well on this year’s best schools for students working on their master’s degree.

On average, master’s degree students take out $83,344 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at MUSC. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 16% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Medical University of South Carolina Report

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#14

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York
$30,022 Average Tuition & Fees
$62,830 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #14, Cornell University did quite well on this year’s best schools for students working on their master’s degree.

Master’s Degree recipients from Cornell accumulate an average of $62,830 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Cornell. In fact, around 4% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Full Cornell University Report

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#15

Bentley University

Waltham, Massachusetts
$39,180 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,450 Avg Student Debt

Bentley University ranked #15 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Bentley accumulate an average of $33,450 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at Bentley. During the 2017-2018 year, about 2% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full Bentley University Report

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#16

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, California
$25,056 Average Tuition & Fees
$42,756 Avg Student Debt

Santa Clara University landed the #16 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree programs.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $42,756 in student loans.

SCU does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 3% took at least some of their classes online.

Read full report on Santa Clara University

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$16,088 Average Tuition & Fees
$45,928 Avg Student Debt

Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Master’s Degree Schools ranking.

On average, master’s degree students take out $45,928 in loans while pursuing their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Georgia Tech. During the 2017-2018 year, about 57% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#18

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
$45,909 Average Tuition & Fees
$55,669 Avg Student Debt

Carnegie Mellon University landed the #18 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree programs.

On average, master’s degree students take out $55,669 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at Carnegie Mellon. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 11% took at least some of their classes online.

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#19

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland
$57,556 Average Tuition & Fees
$42,033 Avg Student Debt

Johns Hopkins University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #19 on the list.

On average, master’s degree students take out $42,033 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Johns Hopkins. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 54% took at least some of their classes online.

Read full report on Johns Hopkins University

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#20

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania
$20,606 Average Tuition & Fees
$40,281 Avg Student Debt

Villanova University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools list.

On average, master’s degree students take out $40,281 in loans while pursuing their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Villanova does offer online graduate classes in some areas. During the 2017-2018 year, about 42% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full Villanova University Report

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#21

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
$27,130 Average Tuition & Fees
$28,710 Avg Student Debt

Lehigh University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #21 on the list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Lehigh accumulate an average of $28,710 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Lehigh does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In fact, around 20% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

Full Lehigh University Report

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#22

Georgetown University

Washington, District of Columbia
$51,790 Average Tuition & Fees
$66,954 Avg Student Debt

Georgetown University ranked #22 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Georgetown accumulate an average of $66,954 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at Georgetown. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 20% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Georgetown University Report

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#23

University of California - Berkeley

Berkeley, California
$14,187 Average Tuition & Fees
$49,751 Avg Student Debt

University of California - Berkeley did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #23 on the list.

On average, master’s degree students take out $49,751 in loans while pursuing their degree.

One thing to take note of is that UC Berkeley does offer online graduate classes in some areas. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 9% took at least some of their classes online.

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#24

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda, California
$30,380 Average Tuition & Fees
$97,323 Avg Student Debt

Loma Linda University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #24 on the list.

Master’s Degree recipients from Loma Linda University accumulate an average of $97,323 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Loma Linda University does offer online graduate classes in some areas. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 9% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#25

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Charlottesville, Virginia
$19,528 Average Tuition & Fees
$44,862 Avg Student Debt

University of Virginia - Main Campus did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #25 on the list.

Master’s Degree recipients from University of Virginia accumulate an average of $44,862 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at University of Virginia. In 2017-2018 about 11% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

Full University of Virginia - Main Campus Report

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Master's Degree Schools in the United States

Not only did these schools make the top 50 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

University of Maryland - Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland
#27

Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri
#30

The College of New Jersey

Ewing, New Jersey
#31

Bank Street College of Education

New York, New York
#33

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee
#34

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia
#35

Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
#36

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia
#37

Fairfield University

Fairfield, Connecticut
#38

Bryant University

Smithfield, Rhode Island
#39

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan
#40

Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts
#42

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
#47

University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California
#49

University of Delaware

Newark, Delaware
#50

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, Massachusetts

Rest of the Top 15% Best Master's Degree Schools in the United States

To learn more about the schools below, just click on their names:

Rank School Location
51 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
52 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
53 Drake University Des Moines, IA
54 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC
55 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
56 Ithaca College Ithaca, NY
57 CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York, NY
58 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
59 University of the Pacific Stockton, CA
60 University of Washington - Tacoma Campus Tacoma, WA
61 Oregon Health & Science University Portland, OR
62 New York University New York, NY
63 Endicott College Beverly, MA
64 The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX
65 The University of Tennessee-Health Science Center Memphis, TN
66 Teachers College at Columbia University New York, NY
67 Northeastern University Boston, MA
68 Brandman University Irvine, CA
69 Alfred University Alfred, NY
70 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
71 George Washington University Washington, DC
72 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI
73 Boston University Boston, MA
74 Lawrence Technological University Southfield, MI
75 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
76 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
77 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
78 Northeastern University Professional Advancement Network Boston, MA
79 University of Wisconsin - La Crosse La Crosse, WI
80 Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey Monterey, CA
81 Marquette University Milwaukee, WI
82 Loyola University Maryland Baltimore, MD
83 University of Scranton Scranton, PA
84 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
85 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
86 University of Redlands Redlands, CA
87 University of New England Biddeford, ME
88 Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
89 Rutgers University - Newark Newark, NJ
90 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
91 Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA
92 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
93 University of St Thomas Minnesota Saint Paul, MN
94 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
95 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
96 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY
97 Milwaukee School of Engineering Milwaukee, WI
98 Concordia University - Irvine Irvine, CA
99 McDaniel College Westminster, MD
100 Eastern Virginia Medical School Norfolk, VA
101 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR
102 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
103 University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie, WI
104 Texas Christian University Fort Worth, TX
105 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
106 North Dakota State University - Main Campus Fargo, ND
107 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
108 Norwich University Northfield, VT
109 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ
110 Montana Tech of the University of Montana Butte, MT
111 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
112 California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA
113 Providence College Providence, RI
114 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
115 American University Washington, DC
116 Le Moyne College Syracuse, NY
117 Daemen College Amherst, NY
118 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our best schools ranking:

Rank School Location
119 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
120 Iowa State University Ames, IA
121 Wagner College Staten Island, NY
122 Pennsylvania State University - University Park University Park, PA
123 University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
124 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI
125 South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City, SD
126 Carroll University Waukesha, WI
127 Clarkson University Potsdam, NY
128 University of Dayton Dayton, OH
129 Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
130 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
131 National University La Jolla, CA
132 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
133 University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
134 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
134 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
136 Creighton University Omaha, NE
137 Simmons University Boston, MA
138 Rush University Chicago, IL
139 University of Nebraska - Lincoln Lincoln, NE
140 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
141 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
142 College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA
143 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
144 Manhattanville College Purchase, NY
145 The College of Saint Rose Albany, NY
146 Hamline University Saint Paul, MN
147 Lewis & Clark College Portland, OR
148 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
149 University of Georgia Athens, GA
150 Saint Joseph’s University Philadelphia, PA
151 Belmont University Nashville, TN
152 University of Minnesota - Duluth Duluth, MN
153 Rider University Lawrenceville, NJ
154 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY
155 Westfield State University Westfield, MA
156 Embry Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL
157 Winona State University Winona, MN

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • Read more about our ranking methodology.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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