Harvard University captures two of the top three slots in this year's U.S.News & World Report rankings of graduate school programs, holding the top slot for both business school and medical school programs. Yale University edges Harvard out to claim the honor of having the nation's best law school program.
The grad school rankings might carry extra weight this year because more people are considering going to grad school as a way to boost job security in a shaky economy. For example, earlier this year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had seen about a 15 percent increase in its graduate school applications, and Duke was reporting a 33 percent spike in applications, compared with the same time the previous year. Seeking shelter in grad school is perhaps a wise idea for future prosperity: People who have earned advanced degrees consistently tend to have lower rates of unemployment and higher salaries (about $30,000 per year more than those with a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
Yale's top ranking among law schools keeps alive a streak that dates back more than 15 years. Yale's freewheeling academic structure—a rigorous, ungraded course load during the first semester, after which all courses are electives—appears to have given it the edge over its competition. Harvard lands in second, and Stanford finishes third. (Last year, Harvard and Stanford tied for second.)
For the first time, U.S. News also produced a separate ranking of part-time law school programs. Georgetown University tops that list, followed by George Washington University (2), Fordham University (3), American University (4), and George Mason University (5). According to the American Bar Association, 16 percent of law school students are enrolled in part-time J.D. programs, which generally take four years to finish instead of three. "These are people who are out there working and can't afford just to leave their jobs and go to full-time law school," says Andrew Cornblatt, dean of admissions at Georgetown University Law Center.
Harvard University tops the business school rankings. Stanford, which tied Harvard for the top slot last year, slips a whisker to No. 2, and Northwestern University's Kellogg school and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school tie for third. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan school rounds out the top five. As with law schools, part-time and executive M.B.A. programs are on the rise to accommodate a growing number of students (Northwestern tops U.S. News's ranking of executive M.B.A. programs this year).
Harvard also claims the top spot in the medical school rankings for research programs, followed by Johns Hopkins University (2), the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis (tied for third), and the University of California-San Francisco (5).