Top 50 Best Value Graduate Schools

It’s become commonplace for higher education experts to say that today’s bachelor’s degree is yesterday’s high school diploma – a must to get a professional job, but not enough to lift professionals into higher positions of authority, responsibility, and income. True enough, in most fields today the only way for a worker to enter fields of management and administration is with a master’s degree.

With the professional job market increasingly competitive, more working adults than ever are returning to school to earn their master’s degrees, and more traditional-aged students are working straight through their bachelor’s and going into a master’s program, sometimes with the 4+1 programs that many universities now offer (earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree together in only 5 years).

For most students, traditional residential graduate programs are the most effective way to get a degree and leverage it into a satisfying career with the connections and partnerships that the best research universities provide. To help both traditional-aged students and working adult professionals navigate the graduate-school maze, Value Colleges has compiled its ranking of the very best values in graduate education.

Value Colleges recommends only accredited, reputable colleges and universities that provide their students with an ideal balance of educational quality, affordability, and career opportunity. We start with information from the IPEDS Database, setting parameters for institutions with high graduation rates, high Carnegie Foundation classifications (meaning the most productive research universities that provide students with high-quality, hands-on research opportunities), and a high number of graduate programs. We then rank the qualified institutions on the following:

  • REPUTATION — Featured on U.S. News Graduate Subject Rankings
  • COST — Annual average tuition and fees for Graduate Students
  • ROI — Payscale’s salary data (mid-career pay)

With our formula, we determine which colleges and universities will offer graduates the most opportunity and return for their tuition, creating the 2017 Best Value Grad School ranking.


University of Maryland, College Park

Value College’s #1 Best Value Graduate School, the University of Maryland, College Park, is the leading public research institution in Maryland, and in the wider Washington, DC metropolitan region. As a land-grant institution, UMD’s mission is to provide the best possible education for the most students possible, especially in practical and professional fields, and UMD has done this job more than admirably. A U.S. News & World Report top 15 university, UMD’s close proximity and relationship with the nation’s capital has made it one of the most competitive public universities in the US.

UMD’s Graduate School is also a leader, with top 25-ranked colleges and many individual programs recognized in the top 5, top 10, and top 20 nationally, such as criminology, higher education administration, and information technology. UMD has been recognized for their high number of graduate degrees awarded to African-American students, and its diverse student body and faculty is counted as a strength. Many graduate students are awarded assistantships, and even those without formal assistantships participate in cutting-edge research. With UMD’s low tuition rate and exceptional quality, it’s a premium value.

Cost: $7524 per year


University of California, Berkeley

As the flagship university of the University of California system – widely considered the most prestigious public university system in the US, if not the world – UC Berkeley is an original Public Ivy (public universities with the name recognition and quality of the Ivy League) and a model of excellence in public higher education. Berkeley’s eminent scholars and faculty members have been research leaders in every field from literature from chemistry (with Berkeley researchers discovering 16 unique chemical elements).

With the level of reputation and excellence Berkeley exhibits, graduate students can trust that a master’s or doctoral degree from UC Berkeley will vault them to the top of any field. Many of Berkeley’s individual graduate programs are ranked at the top nationally, from urban design to public health, rhetoric to sociology. Students benefit from an intensely intellectual environment, and one of the most politically active and culturally advanced cities in the US. UC’s tuition keeps it within the realm of affordability, but its academic brilliance keeps it elite.

Cost: $11,220 per year


University of Texas at Austin

Another of the original Public Ivies, the University of Texas at Austin has been the cultural and artistic mecca of the state of Texas for generations. With more than 200 dedicated research centers and facilities, UT conducts world-changing research in many fields. UT’s computing and technology research has also been a key component of Austin’s tech boom, a growing industry that has come to rival Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest.

UT Austin’s graduate programs are some of the best in the nation, and their deep connections to the business, industry, and tech firms of Austin and beyond mean a superior position in the job market for graduates as well. Austin’s career and professional services are especially well-developed. UT offers significant outreach programs as well, including a unique effort in which graduate students present their work to 12-year-old schoolchildren to interest them in higher education and research. With public university prices and a hand in the development of the whole region, UT is a value in all sorts of ways.

Cost: $9564 per year


Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University has long been considered one of the best values in private research universities, thanks to their excellent quality and affordable tuition. As a Church of Latter-Day Saints institution, BYU’s student body is almost entirely Mormon, and as the leading choice for Mormon students, BYU has grown to the largest religious university and the third largest private university in the US. Students are drawn to BYU for its combination of educational excellence and spiritual guidance, and many of their individual programs are ranked at the top of their fields.

BYU’s medical, law, and business programs are highly respected, ranked as many students’ top choice. Engineering and computing are also major draws, and BYU’s combination of technology and entrepreneurship has made it one of the best universities in the nation to start a business, with a high proportion of graduates producing start-ups from their graduate research. For Latter-Day Saints members, BYU is an incredible value, one of the lowest-priced graduate schools in the world, and one that promises students significant returns.

Cost: $6500 per year


Iowa State University

A Carnegie Foundation top-tier research university (the highest level of research productivity recognized), Iowa State University is the model of what a land-grant institution is built to do – it was, in fact, the first land-grant university of all. And that means excellence in applied sciences, engineering, agriculture, and other practical fields. Iowa State is also recognized for their journalism, teacher education, and computing, having been pioneers in those fields: Iowa State was instrumental in the invention of the first electronic digital computer, and one of the first universities offering extension and distance education.

Today Ames, IA, is a center of research and education for the Midwest. Iowa State offers a wealth of graduate degree programs in just about every field imaginable, with particularly strong research areas in energy, chemistry, and engineering. Ames has been named one of the best places to live in the US, and Iowa State scores high on polls of student and faculty happiness – an important quality, considering the hard work and stress of graduate school. Iowa State fulfills its mission of making education accessible with low tuition,

Cost: $8130 per year


University of Colorado Boulder

A U.S. News & World Report top 50 global institution, the University of Colorado Boulder is the flagship of the CU system and one of the dominant institutions in the west. Housed in Boulder, CO, the most vibrant city in the Rocky Mountain region – culturally, economically, and politically – CU Boulder exhibits excellence in all fields, whether the humanities, business, or STEM. Boulder is especially recognized for their top-tier engineering, and a long association with NASA and space technology has made them one of the most important universities for space exploration and research.

CU Boulder’s world-class graduate school pairs students with top-notch researchers, giving students ample access to some of the most important, leading-edge work being done in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The Leeds School of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences are two of the strongest divisions, while Boulder’s law school is also highly regarded, and exceptionally competitive. Graduate students enjoy both strong faculty support, and a wealth of innovative, interdisciplinary options, all for a considerably affordable tuition rate.

Cost: $10,530 per year


George Mason University

Founded as an extension campus for the renowned University of Virginia, George Mason University’s critical closeness to Washington DC has been key to helping it grow into the largest public research university in Virginia. From the suburb of Fairfax, VA, GMU is perfectly placed to attract students from across Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic: close enough to Washington to develop deep ties with federal agencies and the non-profit sector, win competitive federal grants, and build the largest student body in Virginia.

Graduate students receive many advantages from the GMU edge, as well – access to research not available anywhere else; strong connections to government and industry partners; and top name recognition on the job market. George Mason offers students an excellent return on investment, as a result. Students can choose from hundreds of master’s degrees, doctorates, and graduate certificates, with one of the lowest tuition rates possible from a school of GMU’s stature. It’s no wonder George Mason University is considered one of the smartest investments in higher education.

Cost: $6120 per year


University of Florida

One of the most respected universities in the south, and a U.S. News & World Report top 20 public institution, the University of Florida is also home to one of the largest student bodies in the nation. UF is one of the leaders for the region in professional graduate programs, from medicine and veterinary science to business and law. Because of NASA’s prominence in Florida, UF’s many engineering programs are considered top-tier, and the university has a stated ambition to crack the top 10 in rankings in the near future.

Health and medicine is one of UF’s most significant attractions for graduate students, with state-of-the-art research campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville, and a number of teaching hospitals dedicated to children’s health, rehabilitation, psychiatric treatment, and cancer. Other students come to UF for engineering, business, and food science, some of UF’s most innovative research areas. The University of Florida is one of the nation’s top party schools, but that’s only because UF students have a lot to celebrate.

Cost: $8082 per year


University of Virginia

When people talk about a Public Ivy, they’re talking about institutions like the University of Virginia, one of the most elite, dominant public universities in the US. UVA has all the history and pedigree of an Ivy League university, has maintained a place at the head of research and education for nearly two centuries, and continues to innovate and drive fields as diverse as philosophy, business, and medicine.

Health and medicine dominate UVA’s research – in fact, almost half of UVA’s budget derives from its medical patents, over $1 billion annually from its many medical breakthroughs. In addition, UVA students and faculty have contributed to an entrepreneurial boom in the Charlottesville region, with successful business startups beginning to resemble Silicon Valley. UVA remains one of the most prestigious institutions for the humanities in the US as well, making UVA one of the leaders in history, English, and the arts.

Cost: $14,856 per year


University of Pennsylvania

Just as Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia to represent the best education possible in the arts and sciences, Benjamin Franklin designed the University of Pennsylvania as a shining example of higher education in the applied sciences and professional education. An Ivy League university, Penn pioneered education in fields like engineering, medicine, and business, creating the first schools in those areas and introducing the modern university to the US.

Students come to the University of Pennsylvania for the excellence and connections that have made it the alma mater of Supreme Court Justices, Nobel Prize winners, and billionaire industrialists and entrepreneurs alike. Penn’s business, medicine, nursing, and law schools all dominate rankings in their fields, and an alumni network spread across the world ensures that graduates will always find a place after Penn. Penn’s tuition, already low for the Ivy League, is insignificant, considering Penn has an all-grant policy – students need never take out loans, making it one of the best values in the world.

Cost: $16,082 per year


University of Southern California

The University of Southern California, a major, private research university, is one of the west coast’s answers to the Ivy League – an extraordinarily elite university with an endowment over $5 billion and half a billion dollars in research funding. USC is highly selective, and its wealth makes it possible for them to be one of the most generous schools for financial aid. Because of their policy of accepting only the best candidates, and of meeting students’ financial needs, USC has become one of the most diverse elite universities in the nation.

Because of its location in Los Angeles, USC has the largest, oldest, and most respected film school in the world; the School of Cinematic Arts has deep roots and strong connections to the Hollywood film industry. USC’s School of Architecture is also an industry leader, while the Thornton School of Music is similarly renowned. Beyond the humanities, USC’s Engineering, health and medicine, and business schools have tremendous success, especially as USC’s business relationships have spread across the Pacific Rim.

Cost: $29,988 per year


Texas A&M University

As a land, sea, and space-grant institution, Texas A&M University is one of the largest universities in the US and one of the most reputed. The “Agricultural and Mechanical” part of the name is a nod to its beginnings, but while Texas A&M’s excellence in education and research has its roots in the practical education that the land grant requires, it has grown well beyond those bounds into engineering, medicine, business, and technology.

With one of the largest endowments in the US and one of the highest rates of research productivity, Texas A&M offers graduate students access to some of the most exciting, forward-looking research in the world. TAMU has been at the forefront of areas such as bioengineering, petroleum engineering, and space technology, led by an entrepreneurial spirit. Regularly ranked as a best value, Texas A&M has also been acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best colleges for getting a competitive, lucrative job.

Cost: $15,667 per year


University of California, Davis

The University of California, Davis, stands alongside other UC system universities as a Public Ivy, and consistently falls in the top dozen public universities in the US. The third-largest institution in the UC system, UC Davis is a destination for California students, known not only for its educational excellence but for the culture of its beloved college town, the kind of city people come to for school and never want to leave.

Because of its roots – originally founded as UC’s rural, agricultural campus – UC Davis is still one of the best choices for students interested in agriculture, especially the wine business with the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Other leading programs include veterinary science, earth science, and environmental science – not surprisingly, UC Davis is known as one of the greenest schools in the nation. It’s also a proven value, with the UC reputation and strong connections throughout California.

Cost: $13,165 per year


University of Michigan

One of the dominant public research institutions in the Midwest, the University of Michigan is the state’s flagship, with its main campus in lovely Ann Arbor, regularly ranked as one of the most loved college towns and best places to live. With one of the largest endowments of any public university, UM has been steadily increasing its already strong reputation as a best value by increasing financial aid and reducing student debt over recent years.

UM offers a wide range of professional and STEM graduate programs, as well as humanities and social science. UM’s Rackham Graduate School offers hundreds of master’s, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs, and a number of other programs directly administrated by their own schools. With its superior reputation in the region, UM promises its graduates a solid, rewarding place in the job market.

Cost: $21,040 per year


Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s 21st century boom is the kind of success story that other universities look at in envy and work to emulate. From a regional public university to the largest – and one of the most admired – institutions in the US, ASU’s innovation, entrepreneurship, and accessibility has redefined American higher education: undergraduate, graduate, and online. In just the last two decades ASU leapt into the top tier of research universities, and students have found ASU’s success translate into their own.

ASU offers well over 100 graduate programs, as well as a model 4+1 program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. Many of ASU’s schools are ranked at the top of their respective fields; ASU’s journalism is in the top 10, and many more are in the top 20, including Public Affairs, Nursing, and Teaching. ASU’s business and law schools are highly respected for their quality and connections. ASU graduates can trust that their reasonably-priced tuition will be well spent.

Cost: $10,610 per year


Rutgers University

One of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution, Rutgers University has been central to learning and research in New Jersey for two and a half centuries. Rutgers has been through many incarnations, from a private college to a public research university, to its current state as a semi-public flagship, but one thing has remained constant: excellence. Rutgers faculty and students have contributed major discoveries to agriculture, engineering, and medicine, while Rutgers’ professional graduate programs have graduated leaders in every field.

Rutgers’ graduate programs are ranked among the best in the nation, especially in areas such a mathematics, statistics, and science, and the Rutgers Business School is one of the most competitive in the northeast. Rutgers is well known for their outreach to first-generation students, as well as for their success in feeding graduates to elite positions – they are ranked as one of the best universities for students who want to get rich.

Cost: $16,272 per year


Texas Tech University

From deep in the Texas plains, Texas Tech University has spent nearly 100 years doing something extraordinary – shaping the culture, economy, and life of west Texas almost single-handedly. Texas Tech belongs to the highest tier of the Carnegie Institute’s research rankings, having developed world-changing innovations in energy, medicine, and computing, from petroleum and wind energy to HIV treatments.

Texas Tech’s graduate programs allow students to develop innovative interdisciplinary plans, while the law and business schools have built highly-ranked dual degree programs in addition to their own individual degrees. Texas Tech’s education and law programs are recognized as among the best in the region, while their engineering and medical programs attract students from across the west and beyond – all for one of the lowest graduate tuition rates in the nation.

Cost: $4860 per year


University of Utah

While Utah’s most prestigious private university is named for him, Brigham Young himself founded the University of Utah, then called the University of Deseret since Utah had not yet been so named. A major public research university, UU has been instrumental in innovations in computing (as a node of the original ARPANET), environmental science, genetics, and medicine, as the home of the only medical school in the state.

The University of Utah offers nearly 100 graduate programs, attracting students to the ruggedly beautiful mountains of Salt Lake City in a number of professional and academic disciplines. Graduate students are enthusiastically and deeply integrated into UU’s research programs, giving future researchers a valuable start in the field. While UU is not a religious institution like BYU, it is noted as one of the most religious public campuses in the US, as well as one of the friendliest and safest – all the more reason to take advantage of a world-class value.

Cost: $7054 per year


Louisiana State University

Louisiana’s flagship institution, Louisiana State University is a land, sea, and space-grant university that stands as one of the leading research institutions in the Deep South. Originally a military college, that tradition has continued in LSU’s excellent law and engineering programs, and in their commitment to public service. LSU was instrumental in accepting displaced students after Hurricane Katrina, and in producing volunteers in the aftermath.

LSU is most respected and recognized for business, having been ranked as one of the most entrepreneurial colleges in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as for their excellent law, architecture, and social work schools. LSU has seen major gains in admissions and reputation in the 21st century, and that growth looks to continue, making LSU a degree to watch.

Cost: $8423 per year


University of Minnesota Twin Cities

The flagship of the University of Minnesota system has one of the largest student bodies in the US, bringing students from the Midwest, across the US, and internationally. One of the most respected public universities, and a Public Ivy, UMTC is a top-tier land, sea, and space-grant research institution, part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, a cooperative program sharing resources and projects across the Big Ten conference.

Students come to UM for some of the highest-ranked graduate programs in the nation, including pharmacy, medicine, economics, and statistics. The University of Minnesota Law School is ranked in the top 20 nationally. Strong partnerships in the Twin Cities area and in the Midwest region give students access to significant opportunities for internship, research, and employment, and the UM name is one of the most respected on the job market.

Cost: $15,844 per year


University of Nebraska, Lincoln

The University of Nebraska began bringing higher education to the frontier under a federal land grant in 1869. Founded as a largely agricultural institution, UNL’s focus has always been on practical, applied arts and sciences, especially in areas of crucial importance to Nebraska’s unique landscape and culture. In particular, UNL has been at the center of sustainable agriculture and ecology research for generations; they are also part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, pooling resources and data for research with other Big Ten schools.

With well over 150 master’s, doctorates, and graduate certificates, UNL offers graduate students a wealth of opportunities; from the agriculture and sustainability courses Nebraska has become known for, to their innovative digital humanities programs, UNL is at the forefront of graduate education. UNL also offers programs for freshmen students who know they are interested in graduate school to start off on the right foot, and well-developed post-graduation support, making UNL’s low tuition a bargain.

Cost: $5220 per year


University of Iowa

The University of Iowa has long been known as a source of invention and innovation, especially in the humanities: they were the birthplace of the MFA degree, recognizing creative work alongside traditional scholarship, and writers have been drawn to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop for generations now. UI also pioneered diverse acceptance as the first co-ed public university and advancing opportunity for African-American and LGBT students.

The University of Iowa Graduate College places a premium of interdisciplinary work, encouraging students and faculty alike to reach across fields to create groundbreaking work that combines different areas of expertise. Specialized research programs include areas from urban planning to book studies, from library science to immunology. Students will find a strong return on their investment, developing expertise in unique, highly marketable fields for a low, public university cost.

Cost: $9788 per year


University of Washington

One of the most prestigious and productive public research universities in the nation, the University of Washington is one of the primary movers in Seattle’s tech economy and R&D community. UW has one of the highest rates of federal grant-funding in the US, with a research budget of over $1 billion. UW’s faculty includes Nobel Prize, Pulitzer, and Medal of Science winners. UW’s generous financial support and commitment to accessibility has also made it one of the most diverse schools in the Pacific Northwest.

Many of UW’s graduate programs are recognized in the top 5, top 10, and top 20 of their areas, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, computer science, library science, and many more. UW graduate students have access to some of the most original and valuable research going on today, including many interdisciplinary programs. The booming Seattle economy and UW’s excellent professional support make it one of the best possible choices for a bright future.

Cost: $16,536 per year


University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has followed the fortunes of its home city; UNCC has grown from an extension campus of UNC Chapel Hill, to a regional college, to a major public research university, as the city of Charlotte has grown into the #2 banking city in the US (after New York, of course). Now with three campuses and a large student body, UNCC is a major part of the Charlotte community.

UNCC’s rising reputation has not brought it to the height of its Public Ivy flagship but for finance, computer science, and other professional programs, UNCC is one of the best choices in the Carolinas. UNCC has many corporate and industry partners, as well as a significant place in research for the region, with collaboration between UNCC faculty and the many other colleges in the area. A UNCC degree is a strong entry into the Charlotte job market and a solid educational investment.

Cost: $4128 per year


University of Oklahoma

The first institution of higher education in the Oklahoma Territory, the University of Oklahoma is one of the leading research universities in the Midwest and a key player in education, medicine, and energy in the region. Because of its history as the college of the Indian Territory, OU is one of the most important educators of Native American students in the US, and their high level of diversity has made them one of the leading research centers for Native American studies.

OU is especially known for their medical, nursing, pharmacy, and public health programs, as well as energy, petroleum, and geology, fields well-suited to the region. OU excels in engineering and business, with graduate degree programs highly respected in the Midwest. With growing demand, OU has become a more selective university, and as their reputation continues to grow, a degree from the University of Oklahoma increases in value.

Cost: $4577 per year


University of Missouri

The University of Missouri brought higher education west of the Mississippi River, taking a crucial role in growing the economy, industry, government, and social sector of the region throughout nearly two centuries. Mizzou’s research in engineering, agriculture, medicine, law, and the humanities has shaped the Midwest in many ways, from innovating in nuclear energy to introducing the journalism school to the US.

As a major research university, Mizzou offers more than 70 research centers that graduates students can take part in, from folklore and oral culture to cancer research. There are nearly two hundred degree and certificate programs for students to choose from. Mizzou’s many opportunities have a significant impact on their students’ prospects, as nearly 97% of graduates find employment in their fields, making the University of Missouri a clear value.

Cost: $6300 per year


University of Texas at Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas has its roots in technology, in a quite unusual way – it was originally Texas Instruments’ research lab, before the company gave the facility to the University of Texas to establish a research university in the Dallas area. Located in the suburb of Richardson, UT Dallas benefited from the massive Dallas business and tech economy, quickly exploding into a major public research university with more than 50 research centers and a wealth of interdisciplinary research opportunities.

Not surprisingly, considering its location, UT Dallas has one of the greatest business schools in the world, with a strong emphasis on information technology, as well as a world-class engineering school, from electrical engineering to computing. UT Dallas’s strong connections to the business sector of Dallas gives students ample access to a substantial job market, and an open door to just about any occupation.

Cost: $11,940 per year


North Carolina State University

Before Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, or Seattle, there was the Research Triangle, one of the first industrial research centers bordered by the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and North Carolina State University. With this history, and deeply-rooted connections to computing, medical, and food industry partners, NCSU is one of the most important public research universities in the nation, known for everything from agriculture and textiles to nuclear engineering and pharmaceuticals.

NC State offers well over 200 master’s and doctorate degrees through the Graduate School, in an impressively diverse range of fields. NCSU’s life sciences, veterinary medicine, and textiles programs are highly sought and competitive, while their many engineering programs attract students from all over the world. A wealth of research options make graduate students into scholars, and the NCSU reputation gives all their graduates a strong position for a rewarding career.

Cost: $10,222 per year


University of Massachusetts Amherst

The University of Massachusetts stands tall among its many Ivy League and elite private New England neighbors as one of the foremost public research universities in the nation. In a region packed with some of the most recognizable names in higher education, UMass has everything: a top college town, high research level, award-winning faculty, job market recognition, and some of the most sought-after programs in the nation.

Graduate students at UMass Amherst can choose from over 100 master’s and doctorate degrees; business receives a great deal of attention and a great many accolades, but UMass’ sciences are equally respected, including chemical engineering, geophysics, and computer sciences. UMass graduates have the promise of a strong ROI and job market presence, with access to Boston, New York, and the rest of the north at their fingertips.

Cost: $12,824 per year


University of Arizona

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the University of Arizona in shaping the educational and cultural landscape of the state of Arizona, from the time it was the Arizona Territory. While Arizona State (#15) has captured much of the media attention, the University of Arizona has never stopped bringing affordable public education to the people of Arizona, particularly to the state’s large Hispanic population, winning acclaim as one of the best medical schools for Hispanic students.

UA offers over 100 master’s and doctorate degrees through the Graduate College, many of which are ranked at the top of their fields. While UA’s Eller College of Business and Rogers College of Law are perennially acclaimed, UA is further acknowledged for their social science and science programs; they are also one of the best sources for Middle Eastern studies. The University of Arizona is a leader for the southwest.

Cost: $12,000 per year


University of Texas at Arlington

Like UT Dallas (#27), the University of Texas at Arlington is well-situated in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan region, giving students the benefit of an affordable regional university with access to one of the largest economic centers of the US. With highest-level Carnegie Foundation research ranking and recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the best regional universities in the west, UT Arlington can be seen as a model for future universities.

UT Arlington’s 100 graduate programs are strongly oriented toward professional and research fields, especially engineering, nursing, business, and the only architecture program in the region. Specialized programs focusing on the southwest and Hispanic culture reflect the Texas heritage. As one of the most recognized branches of the UT system, UT Arlington makes for a top-notch educational investment.

Cost: $6639 per year


University of Arkansas

Founded as a land-grant university focused on industrial engineering and agriculture, the University of Arkansas has grown into one of the most influential and productive research institutions in the Deep South. Unprecedented financial support from the Walton family (founders of Wal-Mart) has succeeded in raising UA’s reputation, especially in business, law, and engineering.

The Walton College of Business is one of UA’s biggest draws, having been the main recipient of the Walton family’s $300 million gifts, but UA’s engineering, environmental science, agriculture, and health programs continue to be some of the most respected in the region. The University of Arkansas is known for its accessibility and commitment to providing education for those who want it, and their low tuition rate is only a part of that value.

Cost: $7182 per year


University of Houston

One of Texas’ major research universities, the University of Houston is the flagship of the University of Houston system, and an institution to rival the reputation of UT and Texas A&M. The university is one of the largest players in Houston’s booming economy, a source of much of Houston’s professional and research workforce, and a leader in civic and intellectual life.

Not surprisingly, one of UH’s most noted programs is business; the Bauer College of Business is one of the most reputed b-schools in the nation. But Houston is also well known for their engineering and science, much of it attributed to their relationships with NASA and commercial space exploration and technology. UH has made major contribution to AI, computing, and energy research, all of which graduate students can take part in at a low, public-university tuition rate.

Cost: $7452 per year


University of Wisconsin

Perhaps the foremost public research university in the Midwest, the University of Wisconsin is recognized as a Public Ivy and is the flagship of the University of Wisconsin system, a highly-organized network of public institutions that approaches the heights of California and New York for quality and value. From Madison, WI, a college town at the top of every “Best College Towns” list, UW welcomes students from across the US and the world.

University of Wisconsin graduate students have the opportunity to take part in groundbreaking research with faculty, corporate and industry partners, and researchers at other UW system institutions. UW offers graduate degrees in virtually any area, with exceptionally strong programs in engineering, medicine and healthcare, and public policy. It’s one of the best deals in the nation, with a strong presence on the Midwestern job market.

Cost: $11,725 per year


Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is one of the most respected and most cited models for what the 21st century university should look like – steeped in research, combining practical professional education with intellectual and academic rigor and exploration, and embracing alternative and innovative educational methods. Once a regional agricultural college, OSU’s entrepreneurship and creativity has made it one of the largest universities in the nation.

OSU’s Fisher College of Business is widely recognized as one of the best in the United States, with one of the most highly-sought MBA programs, while their political science and history programs are exceptionally influential. From aerospace to urban development, OSU graduate students take part in the significant research that OSU leads. Ohio State’s reputation as a value is well established, and their graduates take part in that promising future.

Cost: $11,560 per year


University of Kansas

Founded in 1865, the University of Kansas first played a crucial role in healing the young state after the trauma of the Civil War, bringing educational opportunity to the region. Today it stands as the foremost major research university in Kansas, and one of the leaders of the Midwest, with many of their graduate programs ranked in the top 10 of their fields by sources such as U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review.

The University of Kansas offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the nation for a university of its stature, making it one of the most reliable values in any region. That affordability attracts students from all over the region to KU’s medical, law, and business programs, but KU is also known for their top-notch urban planning, engineering, and journalism programs. Whatever the field, Kansas is a trusted name throughout the Midwest.

Cost: $6804 per year


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

One of the original Public Ivies, a corner of the Research Triangle (with NCSU, #28), and one of the three oldest public universities in the US, the University of North Carolina is the flagship of the UNC system (which includes UNC Charlotte, #24) and one of the most prestigious public research institutions in the nation. UNC’s medical research, community engagement, and top-tier education have made it a keystone of a state filled with world-class universities.

UNC is best known for their medicine, healthcare, and nursing programs, which use the renowned UNC Health Care system for research and practice. Their school of public health is also considered the top state-supported public health program, while their business programs have long been ranked among the best. One of the ten most productive public research universities, UNC inducts graduate students into the very newest work, whether academic, professional, or technical.

Cost: $9143 per year


University of Tennessee

Begun shortly after the founding of the United States, the University of Tennessee brought education west of the Appalachian Mountains at a time when that area was still frontier, and UT has been on the front lines of research and education ever since. UT has been a critical force in the growth and development of Tennessee, from medicine (operating the University of Tennessee Medical Center, the only teaching hospital and one of the most important medical facilities in the region) to agriculture and environment (as a land-grant, and more recently a sun-grant institution).

The University of Tennessee Graduate School offers all the opportunity that a major public research university can provide, including ambitious research projects, real-world experience in community outreach, and a top-notch faculty. Tennessee is best known for agriculture, nuclear engineering, business, and architecture/design, with students taking part in research initiatives alongside faculty. UT’s tuition rates keep it accessible, bringing education to all who want it at a bargain price.

Cost: $10,618 per year


George Washington University

It should come as no surprise that the George Washington University, in Washington, DC, is one of the most politically active universities in the nation, or that it is one of the universities whose students are most likely to go into political careers. Named for the first president of the US, whose will expressed an intention to found a university in the capital, GWU is one of the leading institutions for political science, and has the only applied politics program in the region.

Students come to GWU for one main reason – GWU’s deep connections to Washington mean that students have the direct access to government, private industry, and non-profit sectors that only Washington, DC, could provide. With over 200 graduate programs – master’s, doctorate, and certificate – students can choose from many directions, but the career opportunity GWU offers alone make it a value at any price.

Cost: $27,540 per year


Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University, a mid-sized, private research university, has grown in recent years to one of the most prestigious institutions in Texas, and throughout the south and southwest. With an endowment of over $1 billion, it is one of the 100 most wealthy universities, a distinction that gives it considerable opportunity for research and financial aid, both of which attract graduate students.

SMU’s Cox School of Business is one of the most respected in the nation, leveraging SMU’s Dallas location to great effect with strong networking capabilities, highly competitive internships, and a strong entry into the job market. Other popular programs include engineering, computing, biology and chemistry, and other research fields. With ample career prospects and strong financial aid, Southern Methodist is a clear value.

Cost: $20,970 per year


College of William & Mary

The second-oldest college in the US still stands proudly as one of the most prestigious, unique in its status not as an Ivy League university like most of the other Colonial Colleges, but as an affordable, accessible public institution with all the respect of a Public Ivy. William & Mary has a strong presence in the public sector, with many graduates entering government service, and is regularly ranked at the top of public universities.

While William & Mary retains the “college” name and emphasizes undergraduate education, it has a highly developed graduate program, with world-class master’s and doctorate degrees largely concentrated in the sciences and professional studies. These include their highly regarded School of Marine Science, business, and education, as well as respected STEM programs such as chemistry and computer science.

Cost: $8009 per year


University of Pittsburgh

One of the oldest American colleges, formed just after the Revolution, the University of Pittsburgh spent most of its history as a private college before becoming state-supported in the 1960s. Pitt’s status has made it one of the main influences on the formation and growth of Pittsburgh, and today the university, along with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, remains the largest employer in the region.

Pitt’s combination of Ivy-League quality and public university tuition have made it a perennial best value; it is one of the best choices for medical, healthcare, and nursing education in the region and a leader in medical research. Other strengths include business and social work, appropriately for its urban setting. Graduates find Pitt a significant advantage in job-seeking, making it frequently praised for its positive professional impact.

Cost: $24,402 per year


Oregon State University

The only public university with all four federal grant designations (land, sea, sun, and space), Oregon State University is one of the most prestigious and productive public research institutions in the nation, and the foremost research university in the Pacific Northwest. OSU is also recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for their community engagement, having a significant hand in the social and civic life of Corvallis and the state of Oregon.

OSU has a significant place in every STEM field, from energy and environmental sustainability to health sciences and food sciences. Other key fields include forestry, nuclear engineering, and earthquake and tsunami research (a much-needed area of study for the west coast). Students can count on a strong showing in their career paths, as OSU educates much of Oregon’s professional and technical experts.

Cost: $12,150 per year


Vanderbilt University

Alongside institutions like Duke, Emory, and Rice, Vanderbilt University represents the south’ reply to the Ivy League – top-tier private research institutions that combine world-class research and education with the very highest reputation. Vanderbilt was founded to offer the best possible education to the newly-industrializing south after the Civil War, and its role in bringing Nashville and Tennessee into modernity continues today.

Vanderbilt is best known for medicine, operating the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of the most prestigious teaching hospitals in the south, but it is equally influential in political science and public policy, computer science, and STEM fields. As many Ivy League institutions, Vanderbilt attracts the best students with a financial aid program that ensures all students pay their tuition with scholarships and grants, never loans, making it a value at the very top.

Cost: $32,724 per year


Ohio University

Ohio University has been bringing students to the beloved college town of Athens, OH, since the beginning of the 19th century, establishing itself as one of the most academically rigorous and productive public universities in the Midwest. OH has an impressive history of award-winning students and faculty to back up its reputation, with significant research in engineering, ethics, communication, and other fields.

Ohio University offers a slew of graduate degrees through the Graduate College, with competitive business, engineering, and humanities programs. Ohio is especially known for journalism, with a state of the art communications division and strong funding for research. Whether studying education or public health, theater or sports administration, the Ohio University name is trusted and recommended.

Cost: $10,536 per year


University of Illinois at Chicago

Ohio University has been bringing students to the beloved college town of Athens, OH, since the beginning of the 19th century, establishing itself as one of the most academically rigorous and productive public universities in the Midwest. OH has an impressive history of award-winning students and faculty to back up its reputation, with significant research in engineering, ethics, communication, and other fields.

Ohio University offers a slew of graduate degrees through the Graduate College, with competitive business, engineering, and humanities programs. Ohio is especially known for journalism, with a state of the art communications division and strong funding for research. Whether studying education or public health, theater or sports administration, the Ohio University name is trusted and recommended.

Cost: $10,536 per year


Temple University

A household name in most of the US, Temple University is one of the most respected and prestigious research institutions in the nation. Like Rutgers and some other select universities, Temple is a public-private hybrid, partially state-funded but independently administrated, which gives it a great deal of freedom to pursue research funding and make partnerships throughout Philadelphia, the Northeast, and the world.

Temple is most recognized for their top-tier professional programs, especially in business, with the Fox School of Business among the largest in the nation. Temple’s Tyler School of Arts is one of the most recognized art schools, with highly ranked programs not only in traditional arts like painting and printmaking, but computer and graphic design. Other notable programs include criminal justice and Communications, all delivering graduates into their fields with the Temple name and reputation to their benefit.

Cost: $15,354 per year


Northwestern University

Students can be forgiven their confusion, but when Northwestern University was named, Illinois was the northwestern US. One of the oldest institutions of higher education in the region, Northwestern was a key component to the settling and growth of the Northwest Territory, especially the area that would eventually become Chicago. A large, private research university, Northwestern is routinely found at the very top of U.S. News & World Report national rankings.

Northwestern’s prodigious research output has made it one of the highest institutions in the US for patents, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and engineering. Students come to Northwestern not only for STEM, but for political science, economics, and other highly-rated fields. Like UI Chicago, Northwestern makes the most of their location, providing students with excellent entre into the Chicago job market and the opportunity for a high ROI.

Cost: $48,624 per year


University of Miami

The premiere private research university in Florida, and a top 50 national university, the University of Miami is one of the leading figures in the life and business of Miami. Founded with the utmost confidence in south Florida’s growth, the University of Miami played a major role in facilitating and guiding that growth with academic and professional education, becoming one of the largest employers in the city.

As a private university, UM has an extremely promising student to faculty ratio, giving students ample access to faculty members for guidance, mentorship, and research opportunities. In addition to a medical school and law school, one of Miami’s most prestigious elements is its oceanographic and atmospheric research, for obvious reasons. UM is also a key site for research in Cuban life and culture. UM graduates can be sure of a rewarding career, in Miami or anywhere else.

Cost: $33,300 per year


Northeastern University

A top-ranked, private research university in Boston, MA, Northeastern University stands out alongside some of the most prestigious universities in the nation in a city packed with them. One of Northeastern’s most significant innovations was the creation of the cooperative education concept, in which students rotate conventional coursework with intensive experiential workplace education. Northeastern’s deep connections to the industry and government of Boston gives students opportunities to work with some of the most important businesses in the nation, from Fortune 500 companies to top-flight startups.

For obvious reasons, many of Northeastern’s most acclaimed and sought-after programs are those most suited to its urban location and unique strengths; students come to Northeastern for programs like business, public policy, urban planning, and computer engineering. With their reach across the Boston economy, Northeastern offers students opportunities that have resulted in one of the most impressive ROIs in the nation, which is why Northeastern University is perfect to round out the top 50 Best Value Graduate Schools of 2017.

Cost: $21,870 per year

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