50 Best Public Grad Schools of 2021

When graduate students need to make significant financial contributions to their graduate education, it makes sense to attend a public university over a private one.

50 Best Public Grad Schools of 2021

Public universities have an advantage over private universities when cost is an issue. For much of graduate education, cost is not an issue. Students going to graduate school often receive tuition remission and stipends, in which case it makes no financial difference going to a public or private university. But even though many graduate programs offer tuition remission and stipends, many do not.

Professional schools, such as business, law, and medicine, where it is assumed that those graduating with an advanced degree will earn a good salary on account of the degree, typically charge full tuition. The same tends to hold for students with an undergraduate degree who need to do some additional “leveling” work in order to get into a doctoral program. They will often first have to obtain a master’s degree. Such “terminal” master’s degrees, as they’re called, typically don’t come with tuition remission or stipends: the schools realize that they are serving as a springboard to another program and therefore charge accordingly (often full price). In such circumstances, where graduate students need to make significant financial contributions to their graduate education, it makes sense to attend a public university in one’s state, where the costs, because subsidized by tax dollars, will tend to be a lot lower than for comparable programs at public universities.

These are the best public grad schools in the US!” – @AcademicInflux

How can you choose the best graduate school for you? A good answer to this question looks to your personal and professional goals. Certain professions will require you to earn an advanced degree. In other cases, an advanced degree can make you eligible for leadership roles and higher pay. For instance, the best graduate schools for education can improve your earnings as a teacher, make you eligible for tenure, or help you meet the basic threshold for continued employment. On the other hand, the best graduate schools for business can simply make you a more competitive candidate for job openings and management roles.

The best graduate school for you should have a stellar reputation and employ highly influential professors across the board and especially in your area of study. Indeed, much exciting academic work these days is cross-disciplinary, and for such work to flourish it helps to be at a school that is strong across discipines. The following list is composed of only private graduate schools.

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We’ve identified 302 public colleges and universities that meet our criteria. In order to be included in this list of best graduate schools, a university needs to satisfy the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a public non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer doctoral degrees and a broad range of advanced degrees.
  4. It must have a student body of at least 2,000.

How do we determine the best public graduate colleges & universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. At the undergraduate level, the best colleges and universities are those with the highest concentration of influence. Our Concentrated Influence metric adjusts overall influence by size of undergraduate student body, thus allowing smaller schools to compete with larger schools so long as they have proportionately as strong influential faculty and alums.

But at the graduate level, the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. Overall influence, and not influence controlled by other variables, thus becomes the best gauge of academic excellence at the graduate level. Where smaller size is an advantage at the undergraduate level (hence Concentrated Influence), graduate studies benefit from a large and vibrant community of graduate students, who promise to become the new generation of academic influencers.

If you are serious about finding the best graduate schools, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

50 Best Public Grad Schools in the US

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    What is University of California, Berkeley known for?

    University of California, Berkeley’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    26%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is University of Michigan known for?

    University of Michigan’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is University of California, Los Angeles known for?

    University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Law
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/30

    What is University of California, San Diego known for?

    University of California, San Diego’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is University of Washington known for?

    University of Washington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1355/30

    What is University of Texas at Austin known for?

    University of Texas at Austin’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    54K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/29

    What is University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign known for?

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #11

    Purdue University

    West Lafayette , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/28

    What is Purdue University known for?

    Purdue University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #14

    University of Iowa

    Iowa City , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/25

    What is University of Iowa known for?

    University of Iowa’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1355/30

    What is University of California, Santa Barbara known for?

    University of California, Santa Barbara’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/30

    What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/28

    What is University of California, Davis known for?

    University of California, Davis’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #18

    University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/30

    What is University of Pittsburgh known for?

    University of Pittsburgh’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #19

    University of Utah

    Salt Lake City , UT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1261/25

    What is University of Utah known for?

    University of Utah’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #21

    Michigan State University

    East Lansing , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    What is Michigan State University known for?

    Michigan State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    74K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/25

    What is Arizona State University known for?

    Arizona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    30%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    38K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1295/28

    What is University of California, Irvine known for?

    University of California, Irvine’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/29

    What is University of California, Santa Cruz known for?

    University of California, Santa Cruz’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    29K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/29

    What is University of Massachusetts Amherst known for?

    University of Massachusetts Amherst’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #27

    Stony Brook University

    Stony Brook , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    What is Stony Brook University known for?

    Stony Brook University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  21. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/27

    What is George Mason University known for?

    George Mason University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    REQUEST INFO
  22. #30

    University at Buffalo

    Buffalo , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/26

    What is University at Buffalo known for?

    University at Buffalo’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Law
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  23. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    What is University of Colorado Boulder known for?

    University of Colorado Boulder’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #32

    Florida State University

    Tallahassee , FL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    What is Florida State University known for?

    Florida State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. #33

    University of Oregon

    Eugene , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/25

    What is University of Oregon known for?

    University of Oregon’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Medical
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  26. #35

    University of Missouri

    Columbia , MO
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    What is University of Missouri known for?

    University of Missouri’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  27. #37

    Virginia Tech

    Blacksburg , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    36K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1285/28

    What is Virginia Tech known for?

    Virginia Tech’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Education
    REQUEST INFO
  28. #38

    Texas A&M University

    College Station , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    59K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/28

    What is Texas A&M University known for?

    Texas A&M University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  29. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    What is North Carolina State University known for?

    North Carolina State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  30. #40

    City College of New York

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    12K

    What is City College of New York known for?

    City College of New York’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Law
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  31. #41

    University of Tennessee

    Knoxville , TN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

    What is University of Tennessee known for?

    University of Tennessee’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • History
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  32. #42

    Temple University

    Philadelphia , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    33K

    What is Temple University known for?

    Temple University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  33. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    41K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    What is Indiana University Bloomington known for?

    Indiana University Bloomington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  34. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    What is University of California, Riverside known for?

    University of California, Riverside’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  35. #45

    University of Houston

    Houston , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/24

    What is University of Houston known for?

    University of Houston’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  36. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    What is University of Illinois Chicago known for?

    University of Illinois Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  37. #47

    University of New Mexico

    Albuquerque , NM
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

    What is University of New Mexico known for?

    University of New Mexico’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  38. #48

    University of Kansas

    Lawrence , KS
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    23K

    What is University of Kansas known for?

    University of Kansas’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • History
    • Literature
    • Law
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  39. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    What is University of Oklahoma known for?

    University of Oklahoma’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  40. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    What is University of Connecticut known for?

    University of Connecticut’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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Photo by N.H. Fischer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0