Almost 1 million people are expected to earn graduate degrees this school year, and for many of them it will be worth the late nights of studying.
Full-time, year-round adult workers with a master's degree earned, on average, $88,477 in 2012, just over $18,000 more than the average worker with a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Workers with professional degrees, such as lawyers and doctors, made almost $89,000 more, on average, than those with bachelor's degrees.
What to study and how much to pay for school can vary depending on a prospective student's career interests, finances and location. Soon-to-be graduate students can look to the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings, released today, for help with finding the right program for them.
The 2017 edition of the rankings includes admissions information for those aspiring to study law, business, medicine, education, engineering and nursing. For the first time, U.S. News has two separate rankings of nursing schools for master's and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.
Graduate schools in the six disciplines are evaluated on criteria such as grade-point averages of incoming students, acceptance rates and employment outcomes of graduates. The rankings methodology varies across disciplines to account for differences in each graduate program. The nursing school rankings, for example, take into account the percentage of faculty members still actively working in hospitals and other medical settings, while business schools are evaluated in part by how corporate recruiters rate MBA programs.
[Video: Is graduate school worth it?]
Business: Harvard Business School landed at No. 1 for MBA programs, taking the spot previously held by Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, which tied for second with the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. Yale University's School of Management climbed up five spots from last year's rankings to crack the top 10, tying for eighth place.
Another school that made a big jump was the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, which moved up eight places – from tying for No. 33 to tying for No. 25.
Among part-time programs, the Haas School of Business at the University of California—Berkeley was once again ranked No. 1, followed by the Booth School of Business at No. 2 and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University at No. 3. The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University rose from No. 12 to No. 6.
photos of the 2017 Best Business Schools.]
Law: The top schools were unchanged in the law rankings, with Yale Law School at No. 1. Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School tied for No. 2, just as they did last year. However, Duke University and the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor traded places, with Michigan moving up to a tie for No. 8 and Duke dropping to No. 11.
Further down the list, Boston University moved up six spots, from a tie at No. 26 to a tie at No. 20.
Urban schools remained at the top of the part-time law program rankings. Georgetown University in the District of Columbia was ranked No. 1 again. New York's Fordham University (now No. 2) and the District's George Washington University (No. 3) swapped places compared with last year.
The University of Houston jumped into the top 10, where it tied with three other schools for No. 6. Last year, it was tied for No. 11. Marquette University fell to No. 42 after tying for No. 17 in last year's rankings.
[See which law schools topped the 2017 rankings.]
Medicine: In the rankings of medical schools for research, Harvard held on to its No. 1 spot. Stanford again came in second, while Johns Hopkins University, the University of California—San Francisco and the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine tied for third.
The University of Washington topped the rankings for primary care, just as it did last year, and was again followed by the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill at No. 2 and UC—San Francisco at No. 3. The University of Wisconsin—Madison fell out of the top 10, dropping from No. 9 to No. 14, while Duke zoomed into the top 10, placing eighth after tying for No. 29 last year.
Nursing: In rankings of nursing master's programs, there were a few changes at the top. Johns Hopkins took the No. 1 spot from Penn, which came in second. UC—San Francisco ranked third. The University of Pittsburgh fell from No. 5 to a tie at No. 13.
In the first-ever rankings of Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, the University of Washington was No. 1, followed by Johns Hopkins at No. 2 and Duke in third.
Engineering: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology placed first in the rankings of graduate engineering programs, while Stanford and Berkeley came in at second and third – the same ranks each school had last year. Harvard fell four spots from No. 20 to No. 24, where it tied with two other schools.
Education: Stanford took the No. 1 spot from Johns Hopkins, which tied for No. 2 with Harvard in the rankings of graduate education programs. The Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California tied for No. 21, after previously tying for No. 15.
Searching for a grad school? Get our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools
This article was originally published by U.S. News & World Report.