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With all the excitement in higher education around online learning, and the rush by colleges to create and build up their own virtual programs, it’s easy to think that the traditional campus-based college is becoming obsolete. But nothing could be farther from the truth. College attendance is on the rise at all kinds of colleges, and for many students the on-campus experience is important not only for undergraduate, but also for graduate studies.

The on-campus experience has a lot of benefits that online education just can’t match. Mentoring is arguably more important in graduate school than in undergrad; the scholars you choose to work with can help you network, write sterling recommendations for employment, and steer you away from the kinds of mistakes that can stall your career. The same goes for your fellow students, or cohort. They’re the ones who will one day write you recommendations, put in a good word at their company, nominate you for awards, and tell inspiring stories in the documentary about your incredible life. There’s also the benefit of location. Many colleges boast beautiful landscaping, impressive architecture, and appealing college towns. Urban colleges, in turn, offer all the excitement of the city, with the community that a college provides.

So you’ve made up your mind: it’s the on-campus experience for you. But that choice doesn’t have to mean having a debt hanging over your head for the rest of your life.

The Top 50 Best Value Residential Graduate Schools were configured by using 3 metrics. The U.S. News Best Value for Graduate Programs Ranking was weighted evenly between Payscale’s 2014 20-year ROI and current Cost of Attendance (graduate tuition). These statistics were applied to schools meeting to the following criteria:

  • nationally or regionally accredited/U.S. schools only
  • transparent reports of ROI and tuition data
  • at least 3 residential graduate programs offered

We’ve run the numbers, and these fifty residential graduate schools will give you the best return on your investment, keeping in mind of course that your ROI may vary depending on other factors. Here are the fifty best value residential graduate schools.


Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech
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The top of our list is a research powerhouse, one of the most productive research institutions in the world. Just as the city of Atlanta has matured into a national business and cultural center, Georgia Tech has grown into one of the most impressive public universities. When it was founded, the status of science and technology learning in the south was low; today, Georgia Tech and Atlanta have elevated the south to a leading place. Georgia Tech offers not only a huge number of graduate programs in engineering, computing, and the liberal arts, but also connections to the corporate and governmental complexes of Atlanta that could mean a significant leg up on a tough job market. With a reasonable public-college price tag, Georgia Tech’s ROI is incredible – well over $750,000. You couldn’t ask for a better college value.


California Institute of Technology

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One of the benefits of choosing an on-campus education is the possibility of spending it in a place like Pasadena, CA. That’s what you get at Cal Tech (a definite plus over its cross-country rival, MIT), but that’s far from all. Cal Tech is one of the best-connected and most productive research institutions in the US, and because of its excellent financial aid programs, most students graduate without any debt and a stellar ROI of over $800,000, with a graduate degree in lucrative fields such as engineering, chemistry, and biology. It’s competitive, but a value that’s hard to overstate.


Carnegie Mellon University

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One of the many legacies of educational reformer and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University was originally founded to improve science and engineering education for the working-class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Today, that mission can be seen in the excellent value that CMU offers, with generous financial aid and a high ROI. One of the “New Ivies,” CMU offers top graduate programs in computer science, engineering, and even the fine arts (including an acclaimed School of Drama).


Princeton University

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There’s one thing you can say for the Ivy League universities: they are committed to getting the best students, and part of that commitment is a financial aid system that ensures that anyone who can make the cut can get their education paid for. They’re the Ivy League, after all – their endowments and contributions more than make up for the cost of tuition. So Princeton, like many other Ivies, is a surprisingly great value; no student needs to leave with debt. Thanks to that happy statistic, and the nearly $700,000 ROI that you’d expect from an Ivy League university, Princeton is a top-tier value college.


Purdue University

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Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana, offers more than 70 graduate degrees. Purdue is a public land-grant university with a very high research productivity, and its graduate programs in science and engineering are well-regarded. Purdue is also known for its English Rhetoric and Composition program, and as the home of the Purdue OWL, the first and most trusted online writing lab.


Texas A&M University

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“A&M” stands for “Agricultural and Mechanical,” but that’s just to remind everyone where A&M has its roots. Today Texas A&M is a major research university with well-funded connections to NASA and the petroleum industry, offering over 100 doctoral degrees and over 150 master’s degrees. That’s massive by any standard, as is the campus, the largest in the US. Because it’s Texas, of course. If you’re a sports fan, you can check out the Aggies for a break from the intellectual demands of grad school. All told, with a significant ROI, Texas A&M is a great value for a Texas-sized experience.


University of California San Diego

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Considered a Public Ivy alongside many of the other University of California system schools, UC San Diego is widely seen as one of the best public universities in the world, with a long list of Nobel, Medal of Science, and MacArthur Fellowship winners among its alumni and faculty. Since you’re looking into residential programs, keep in mind too that San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the US, with near-perfect weather and extensive infrastructure such as parks and the legendary San Diego Zoo. Choose from many highly-sought degrees, such as bioengineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical/aerospace engineering, from an institution with an Ivy League-level ROI.


Cornell University

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We’ve seen several Public Ivies and New Ivies on this list, but Cornell is one of the Ivy-Ivies – like Princeton, the real deal. Cornell’s home is charming Ithaca, NY, a much-loved college town with all of the amenities that term implies. Students choose from graduate degrees too numerous to name, from the sciences and engineering to the humanities and fine arts. As with Princeton, anyone accepted has a full set of financial aid, making Cornell a spectacular investment – ROI automatically goes up when it costs you nothing.


University of Texas, Austin

Even if it weren’t a Public Ivy, with a high spot on nearly every college ranking out there, and a highly productive research university with one of the largest student bodies in the US, UT would be a draw just for its location: music mecca and party city, Austin, TX. Home of the groundbreaking SXSW festivals – heck, home to a festival practically every weekend – Austin is one of those places that defines the benefits you can get from a residential program that online can never give you. Plus, an affordable public university price makes the ultimate ROI on a graduate degree from UT almost a sure thing.


University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign

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The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign is the model of a solid educational investment. A public, land-grant university with a reasonable, public-university price, UI stands at the forefront of research and high on college ranking lists. Its computing program is especially acclaimed, as UI was the first university to build and own a computer, designed the Mosaic web browser, and built the Blue Waters supercomputer. They’re also credited as the birthplace of the evil computer HAL, from 2001: A Space Odyssey, though fortunately, that’s fiction. Aside from computer science and engineering, students can choose from dozens of programs secure in knowing a hefty ROI will be their reward.


University of Virginia

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For students who want the “residential graduate school experience,” whatever exactly that is, UVA is a hard choice to top. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, UVA is the original Public Ivy, with a stately, beautiful campus, much of it designed by Enlightenment genius Jefferson himself, and a quaint college town in Charlottesville. UVA’s faculty is headed by top-notch scholars, especially in the humanities and liberal arts, who can provide the sort of mentoring and networking only the on-campus experience gets. A public price-tag and an Ivy-ROI make UVA a top value college investment.


University of Washington

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In case you’re sensing a pattern, here’s another Public Ivy – the University of Washington. UW (or UDub as the students call it) has an enormous (well over $6 billion) research budget, and a world-renowned medical school, and that’s just a start. Its location in Seattle, a computer technology hub, of course contributes to its outstanding research, which has netted Nobel prizes and numerous other accolades. UW also has over 300 graduate programs: if you want to study it at UW, you can, and never regret your investment.


Brown University

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From the Public Ivy to the real Ivy, we have Brown University. As with Princeton and Cornell, anyone accepted into Brown can count on leaving with little to no debt, thanks to a progressive program paying the way of the best and brightest. And it’s only the best and brightest at Brown – they’re among the most selective universities in the nation. But those who are accepted get a unique opportunity to shape their own program, with guidance and insight from some of the most respected scholars in the world. Not a bad investment at all, if you’re willing to take the chance.


Johns Hopkins University

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Say “Johns Hopkins” and your immediate thought is probably “doctors.” Johns Hopkins Hospital, of course, is legendary, one of the first places to combine medical care and education and a model for nearly every medical school that followed it. But Johns Hopkins’ advancements in medicine are only part of its story; science, engineering, and the humanities owe much to Johns Hopkins as well. At Johns Hopkins you could study in any one of dozens of graduate programs, with a high ROI and a strong system of financial aid to help get you there.


Michigan State University

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In case you didn’t realize, East Lansing, Michigan, the home of Michigan State, is pretty cold. They make up for that with an impressive research agenda, and a furious love of sports. If you choose a graduate degree from Michigan State, you have some highly acclaimed opportunities from this Public Ivy. For instance, Michigan State created the first communications program in the US, and it’s still considered a model. Michigan State’s nuclear physics program has been ranked best in the nation by US News & World Report, so if you want to become a Marvel superhero, it should really be your first choice. Other programs, such as osteopathic medicine and veterinary medicine are also acclaimed, and of course, as a public university tuition rates are kept affordable for a strong return on your investment.


Vanderbilt University

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Like Duke and Emory (also on this list), Vanderbilt was founded to bring Ivy League-quality education to the South, and has it ever. Located in Music City, Nashville, TN, Vanderbilt’s reputation for excellence can be seen in its high-profile research and numerous awards and accolades. Graduate programs in education, law, and medicine are especially acclaimed, and a degree from Vanderbilt has an excellent ROI. Part of that excellent ROI is the fact that, like most of the Ivies, Vanderbilt makes sure all accepted students are able to pay their tuition without resorting to loans.


University of Notre Dame

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Hey, Rudy! Did you know if you went to graduate school at Notre Dame today, you’d be getting one of the best graduate school investments in the world? That’s right – number 17 on our list for value graduate degrees! Especially if you’re interested in architecture (Notre Dame has one of the most respected architecture master’s degrees in the US, and predictably, its South Bend, Indiana campus is stunning), civil engineering, or law, Notre Dame has residential graduate programs that more than deliver on your ROI.


University of Southern California

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If you’re considering residential programs, location must be a factor for you, right? Then what more is there to say than “Southern California”? Located in the city of Los Angeles, USC is a private university with very high research productivity, aided to a large degree by its location, where connections with business and the entertainment industry are plentiful. Prospective graduate students will be in good company – unusually, the graduate student population is larger than the undergraduate, with over 130 degrees offered.


College of William and Mary

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William and Mary is the definition of a Public Ivy; in fact, ask around, and 9 out of 10 people will probably assume it is an Ivy League school. But William and Mary, one of the original colonial colleges (founded before the Revolutionary War), is indeed a public college, and therefore students benefit from a public price, with an Ivy League reputation. William and Mary offers numerous graduate programs, with excellent programs in history (of course, with its home in Williamsburg VA and its deep roots) and law (with the first law school in the US, and a technologically advanced model courtroom).


University of Wisconsin - Madison

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UWM has over 140 master’s degrees and over 100 doctoral degrees to choose from, and as a new incoming graduate student, you’ll have access to some exciting happenings on the UWM campus though their extensive Graduate School resources, like their e-newsletter GradConnections. UWM is committed to helping students transition from undergraduate study to graduate study; they set up a Welcome Week each Fall and line up events before classes start to help prepare for the adjustment.


University of Texas at Dallas

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UT Dallas is a cutting-edge institution offering 85 master’s and doctoral degree programs. Most notable is their Engineering and Business programs, both ranking on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 national ranking. UTD also boasts a #3 in the nation for their Audiology program, and #11 for Speech-Pathology again both ranked by U.S. News & World Report. UTD is just 18 miles from its namesake city of Dallas, in Richardson, TX. It was originally established in 1961 as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, but just a few years later was gifted to the state of Texas and upgraded into a 4-year degree granting university as part of the University of Texas system.


Harvard University

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The biggest assumption about Ivy Leagues, is that they are financially out-of-your-leauge. Well contrary to popular belief, Ivies are quite generous with their financial aid packages. Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in the world, standing at $32.3 billion. Another thing to consider is a school’s Return on Investment. ROI’s of Ivy League schools frequent the top of the list at’s most recent 2014 report. Harvard, no exception is well over $600k. Harvard has an assortment of Art and Science degrees for advanced study as well as 55 separate PhD programs.


Stanford University

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Stanford University is a prestigious private research university in Stanford, California. Highly selective both at undergraduate and graduate level, Standford doesn’t let just anybody in. Do keep in mind though, eighty percent of students receive some form of financial aid.  And with Stanford’s no-loan policy waiving tuition, room, and board for most families with incomes below $60,000 as well as free tuition for those under $100,000, if you do happen to be in the less than 10% admitted, you really should consider attending! According to’s latest report, Stanford’s 20-year ROI is  $789,500, one of the highest in the nation!


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

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The University of Michigan’s Packham Graduate School is a collective of scholars, researchers and graduate students spread throughout the approximately 200 programs offered at UMich. Currently 8,200 students are enrolled in the graduate program. The UMich Graduate Schooli s located on main campus in the attractive college town of Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan is a large research university accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The most recognized programs at UMich include their professional degrees in Law, Dentistry and Medicine as well as their numerous STEM degree offerings.


Baylor University

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Baylor is a the oldest operating university in Texas, ranked nationally and considered a “high research activity” school by the Carnegie Foundation. The Graduate School offers more than 100 master’s and doctoral programs. With an affordable price tag (average grad program $16k), Baylor is a good choice for those where finances take precedence in sourcing a graduate school. Baylor is most notable for its medicine, law, business, science and music programs. U.S. New & World Report ranks Baylor #71 out of 262 Tier 1 universities as “Best Colleges”. The Princeton Review recently named Baylor a “Best Western College” and ranked them #2 in the nation.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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MIT has one of the highest ROI’s on our list, according to’s most recent report the 20-year estimation is $831,100. Yes, the tuition cost is high, but for a school of this caliber we at feel the future value out weighs the current cost. MIT is a great choice for those seeking a specific Science, Technology or Engineering advanced degree. Founded in 1861 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the university was created in reaction to the industrialization of the United States. MIT originally modeled it’s program offerings on the European Polytechnic institutions, emphasizing applied science and engineering. MIT is world-class university boasting 81 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars and 38 MacArthur Fellows!


Dartmouth College

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Dartmouth is a private Ivy league research university located in Hanover, New Hampshire. From Biochemistry to Quantitative Biomedical Sciences, it’s obvious Dartmouth Graduate Studies is at the frontiers of knowledge and primarily interested in educating the best and brightest minds with a focus on the STEM fields. The Dartmouth graduate population remains purposively small at 1,044 current students. They aim to provide a nurturing environment limiting their programs to just 10 Master’s and 17 Doctorates. Helpful fact: All Dartmouth doctoral candidates receive full financial support. Couple that with a 20-year ROI of $666k, and it’s easy to see Dartmouth’s return investment on a doctoral degree is of incredible value!


Duke University

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Duke University Graduate School offers master’s and doctoral degrees in over 70 programs of study. Graduate study at Duke, like Dartmouth, is focused on a smaller, nurturing environment. They offer personal attention to each students needs, flexible programs of study, and inter-disciplinary possibilities for scholarship. Duke is a private research university in the city of Durham, North Carolina, founded by Methodists and named for James B. Duke, the tobacco and electric power industrialist who established the famed Duke Endowment, which since its inception has awarded over $3.2 billion in grants in support of higher education, health care and children’s welfare. Duke University’s main campus spans 8,600 acres with Georgian-style architecture on its East campus while its West campus showcases a Gothic style including the 210 -foot Duke Chapel at the campus’ center and highest point.


University of California - Berkeley

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UC Berkeley, holds the highest number of ranked doctoral programs in the nation according to the National Research Council. The NRC finds them at the top one spot out of more than 5,000 programs at 212 institutions! Berkeley also placed in numerous rankings from U.S. New’s & World Report’s 2015 graduate school subject rankings, including Sciences, Psychology, Public Health, Economics and Education. UC Berkeley was found to have a $556,600 20-year ROI proving a wise choice for students searching for a Best Value college for advanced study. Located in the beautiful bay area, with cultural findings and city explorations just minutes away in the city of San Francisco.


University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

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Ranked as A Best Science Graduate School by U.S. News & World Report, if STEM is your thing, U of M is the place for you. With programs from Molecular Biology to Microbial Ecology to Otolaryngology and Pharmaceutics, U of M has got you covered! Located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the campuses just 5 miles apart are home to over 50K students organized into 19 colleges and schools. A shuttle operates regularly between campuses and the city light rails also gets students where they need to go, even the Fitzgerald Theater, home of the Prairie Home Companion live variety show!


University of California, Los Angeles

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Cutting edge education, reasonable tuition for graduate study, high ROI: yes, UCLA is a wonderful choice for advanced study. 40 programs at this institution are ranked nationally as the best in the nation, from reputable ranking sites like U.S. News & World Report (#2 for public universities), Princeton Review (#7 “Dream College”) even global rankings like the Academic Ranking of World University’s (ranked #12). And, UCLA is located in the second largest city in the US, so you can expect to couple a rich cultural experience alongside that amazing educational experience you already know you’ll be receiving. The Graduate School also holds top ranking spots in the 2015 U.S. News & World Reports Departmental rankings in their Information Studies program, Law School, Business School and School of Medicine.


University of Oregon

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With a large research university like UO, you can expect to find many different degrees at the graduate level, from Arts, Business, Communications to the Sciences.  What you might not know, is that even in a giant setting like UO, they have set up a new Graduate Student Center dedicated to helping graduate students ease that transition from undergraduate to graduate experience. A place to study, read, relax and work amongst peers. With tuition rates low (most average programs costing under $22k), UO is a great choice for those students on a tight budget.


Yale University

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Sure it’s Ivy league, but don’t discount yourself from sending in an application. Ivy League Universities are quite generous with their financial aid packages, and if you have what it takes to be accepted, this degree will surely deliver with its valuable 20-year ROI reporting of $559,600 according to The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is one of 14 schools that makes up Yale University. The Graduate School offers programs in 73 academic disciplines, ranging from MA, MS, Phil.’s and PhD’s. Students as well as faculty come from all over the United States as well as internationally providing a diverse learning environment. The Office of Career Strategy is a unique offering from Yale, lending a hand at securing employment for graduates as their academic careers come to a close. The OCS offers advising, alumni networking events, preparations for interviewing, as well as other career development resources.


Washington University - St. Louis

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The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Washington University is committed to cultivating teaching, scholarship, research and service in its students. With their motto: “Discere si cupids intra: salvere iubemus”  meaning, “if you wish to learn, enter: we welcome you,” the spirit of their commitment in those words are felt strongly. This is a place where knowledge is revered. With a solid R0I of over $500k and an affordable tuition rate, Wash. U is an exceptional choice for advanced study. Located in the port city of St. Louis, the city forms Missouri’s border with Illinois, and sits along the western banks of the Mississippi River.


University of Pennsylvania

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Most commonly referred to as Penn, the graduate school offers 116 different advanced degrees. Penn value is high; with a reported ROI of $641,100, you can count on your degree from Penn paying off in the long run. Penn has some excellent resources for graduate students, the Graduate Student Center serves as the home base for students. It is the hub for activities and support, recreational as well as academic in nature. GAPSA – the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is another great resource for students, it provides a voice of grad students on campus. It’s basically a student organization that holds a calendar of activities throughout the year as well as the organizing of the annual end-of-the-year GradFest celebration.


Case Western Reserve University

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Case Western Reserve University or CWRU, offers the opportunity for graduate seeking students to study a variety of programs including those in the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, engineering, and several other professional fields. The learning environment at CWRU is enriching, as you will find diverse students, faculty and staff along with a thriving cultural community. The campus is located in Cleveland, Ohio, home to the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra; the Museum of Art; the Cleveland Institute of Art; the Institute of Music; the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, among other venues all within walking distance to the college. Most importantly, the ROI on CSRU according to’s most recent report is valued at $528,100. That makes Case Western one of the highest return on initial investments in the country!


Columbia University

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With a 20-year ROI of over $600k, it’s not surprising Columbia University keeps showing up on’s Best Value rankings. Yes, you will shell out a lot of initial cash to attend this prestige Ivy League; however with a degree (especially an advanced degree) your investment is nearly guaranteed to return when you enter into your career. With national rankings in top 10 spots, their undergraduate may be common knowledge, but Columbia’s graduate programs also boasts high scores. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Columbia #8 Best Business School, #14 Best Engineering School, and  #4 for their first-rate Law School.


Ohio State University

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Commonly referred as OSU, the public research university in Columbus, Ohio has more than 90 doctoral and 115 master’s programs to choose from. With a cost of approximately $30k for tuition (out-of-state), OSU is an affordable option for graduate study. Most recently ranked #16 on U.S. News & World report’s 2015 Best Education Schools, #31 for Best Law Schools and #27 Best Business Schools as well as #31for Best Engineering Schools. You can see OSU is no stranger to National rankings at the graduate level. Main campus is a few miles north of the city’s downtown and easily accessible with public transit to all the cultural happenings the city of Columbus frequently provides.


University of Alabama

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The University of Alabama offers over 150 advanced degrees at the master’s or doctoral level. Founded in 1831, UA is one of the oldest public research universities in Alabama. It is currently the only public law school in the state. UA is a massive (almost 2,000-acre) campus located in the heart of Tuscaloosa. UA is also home to several museums, historical landmarks an cultural facilities including: The Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Ferguson Art Gallery and the Paul W. Bryant Museum which houses the historical athletic memorabilia of UA. Last but not least, the largest extraterrestrial object ever discovered is found on campus: the Sylacauga meteorite, fell on November 30, 1954 and is actually only meteorite ever to strike a person (Ann Elizabeth Hodges. Fascinating stuff to explore at UA!

Oh, and Roll Tide!


Georgetown University

The nation's first Catholic institution, Georgetown University is also one of the most prestigious research universities in the US.
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The Graduate School of Georgetown offers Master’s and Doctorate programs in over 50 discipline areas; however the business school, law school and medical school is probably the most outstanding three fields of all its offerings. The Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business at Georgetown has been ranked as Best Business School on an annual basis from U.S. News & World Report. Famous alumni include Michael Chasen, CEO of Blackboard, Inc. as well as the Senior VP of popular fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A. Notable Georgetown Law alumni include Fox News Channel’s anchor Greta Van Susteren. And the Morehouse School of Medicine at Georgetown is obviously of worth as it only accepts 2.8 percent of applicants!


University of Maryland - Baltimore

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More commonly known as UMB, the University of Maryland is located on 61-acres in downtown Baltimore. The main UMB Graduate School (in College Park, MD) was founded in 1918, while our ranking profile is of UMB- Baltimore campus, which was created in 1985. UMB – Baltimore currently offer 23 MS and PhD programs, most known for their impressive amount of advanced medical degree offerings. It is reported that UMB trains and educates the majority of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and lawyers in the state of Maryland!


Emory University

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The Laney Graduate School of Emory University is located in the Druid Hills section of DeKalb County, Georgia, a suburb of metro Atlanta. A private university affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Emory is an elite institution boasting national and global rankings. Emory ranked 21st in the U.S. News & World Report, 14th in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s Best Value Private Universities, and 3rd in Kiplinger’s Best Values specifically in the Southeast USA. Princeton Review’s ranked Emory’s library #6 in its Best College Libraries list. With almost 50 graduate degree programs, you can find your niche at Emory and with a substantial 20-year ROI of $356K you can count on Emory to deliver when you move into career mode.


Boston College

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If you are looking for a small, nurturing environment for your graduate studies, Boston College may be a good fit. BC is a private Catholic research university just 6 miles west of Boston, actually located in the historical village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The main campus boasts a gothic architecture and is home to 9,100 undergraduates and almost 5,000 graduate students. Boston College is no stranger to high rankings of distinction. Both undergraduate and graduate programs have consistently ranked within the top 50 U.S. News & World report on an annual basis. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching notes BC as a research university with high activity and at over 2 billion dollars, BC is known as the 40th largest endowment college in North America and the largest endowment of all Jesuit schools specifically.


University of Pittsburgh

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The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is home to 14 graduate and professional schools, and within those schools they have over 200 degree programs. The university main campus is approximately a span of 132 urban acres in Pittsburgh’s historic Oakland neighborhood. Being an urban college, Pitt has been noted for its positive involvement in community outreach. Pitt is the second largest non-government employer in the Pittsburgh region, providing 33,800 jobs in Allegheny County. Committed to doing good not only local or nationally, the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school ranked 10th in the nation for most alumni Peace Corp volunteers.


Northwestern University

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The Graduate School (TGS) is a tight entity on the campus of Northwestern University. The offer world-class academics have a unique concept of banding all their departments to form a focus of interdisciplinary study. So whether you are studying for a PH.d. in Anthropology or a MFA in Art Theory, you may find yourself linked in some way, as they believe this broadens a students experience and opportunity. Located in Evanston, Illinois, a lovely suburban lake community, the campus is just a train ride (the Purple Line, named for the school’s colors) away from all that a large city like Chicago will provide for residential students.


George Washington University

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GWU is a private research university located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It has over 20 master’s, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs, available at numerous locations in the Greater D.C. area. Consistently ranked by The Princeton Review in the top “Most Politically Active” schools, it’s not surprising many alumni are or have been involved in politics. From US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, to former Secretary of State Colin Powell to the late former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, GWU graduates are known for representing in the public eye.


University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

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Chartered in 1789, UNC Chapel Hill is debatably (at least according to the University of Georgia) the oldest public university in the United States. Offering over a 100 master’s and 74 doctoral degree programs, potential graduate students are sure to find a major they are looking for. The U.S. News & World Report ranks them as 5th overall in their Best Public School 2015 ranking as well as #17 in their Best Values Ranking. With a solid ROI in the mid 200’s and a reasonable tuition cost (especially for in-staters), UNC makes a wise choice for those pursuing graduate studies. That, and the university’s proximity to Weaver Street Market over in Carrboro,NC, one of the finest food co-op’s in the nation!


University of Chicago

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Founded in 1890, the University of Chicago was the original school of sociology. They were the first to calculate the speed of light. UC’s alumni include accomplished authors like Philip Roth and famous scientists like astronomer Edwin Hubble (you may have heard of a little something called the Hubble telescope). So whether you want to be a famous Molecular Engineer or a scholar of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, UC has got you covered. With a 20-year ROI of over $400k, you can rest assured the somewhat high cost of attendance will pay off in the future.


University of Iowa

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The University of Iowa (or UI) offers over a hundred areas of study in their graduate school. Typical programs like Health Sciences, Education, Humanities as well as emerging fields like their PH.D. in Program Data, Human Toxicology and Translational Biomedicine. Sculptors, Metalsmithers and Writer’s take note: the university’s claim to fame is the original developer of the Master of Fine Arts degree. Not only that, but they operate the world-renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Not surprising as Iowa has always been involved in high research interest in the field of education; one might remember the “Iowa tests” of primary school regardless of your home state. Yes, these too were developed by the University of Iowa, way back in 1935, and are still being used in assessments for children today.


New York University

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New York University, more commonly referred to as NYU, finalizes our Top 50 list of Best Value Graduate School. The reason it finds itself lower on the list is due to cost. The average cost of most programs will set you back more than $50K, but with a ROI in the high $300’s you have to keep that in perspective. Suffice to say, your investment will surely be returned. NYU offers over 1,000 distinct degrees at the graduate level, from Arts, Science, Education, Business, and others. Founded in 1831, NYU is one of the largest institutions in America with over 50,000 students. Located in Washington Square and Greenwich Village, NYU contributes to the  dense hub of cultural life New York City is known for.