Best Master's Degrees' Ranking Methodology


Best Masters Degrees began ranking degrees back in 2012 with the hopes of objectively providing online readers with the best possible master's degree options possible. There are so many program options, the application process can be overwhelming, but we've made it possible to narrow down your options based upon interests and experience. Our website's degree rankings are written and edited by nerds, for nerds. We love ranking higher education opportunities because we enjoy learning, ourselves.

Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"

The researchers and writers at Best Masters Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. If your goals involve earning a masters degree, the chances of you working heavily with datasets are high. So, to begin your post-graduate reintroduction to the data world here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

    • Finances (40%)
    • Academic Rigor (35%)
    • Student Gratification (25%)


Forty percent of the data we collect is dedicated to the financial aspects of earning a master's degree. As with every college degree, half of the financial battle is funding one's degree through private or government loans, trying to stay alive on a ramen noodle budget, and the cost of living between school terms. The other half of the fight is paying back your student loans and beginning your career as a working professional.

The type of financial information collected involves the cost of education and living, institutional fees, access to financial aid (20%); and how long it would take to repay your loans or expenses based upon the degree's projected mid-career salary (20%). Websites such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, PayScale, Glassdoor, and the National Center for Educational Statistics' College Navigator, freely provide this information with regular updates.

Financial Source Summary

  • 20% PayScale, Glassdoor
  • 20% NCES College Navigator

Academic Rigor

Best Masters Degrees additionally evaluates degrees based upon how competitive and disciplined a graduate student should be to be successful. Such factors include the average GPAs' and GRE scores of incoming students, the quality of education provided, and how many students of specific universities are staying in school to graduate within six years.

Approximately 15% of the data collected for this category involves applicant test scores and undergraduate transcripts. The other 20% of data involves the number of students retained within the degree after their first year, and how many students graduate from the program. All data used to score academic rigor (35%) is provided by the NCES College Navigator and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Academic Rigor Source Summary

  • 35% NCES College Navigator & IPEDS

Student Gratification

The third main ranking category involves student and alumni reviews of the degree programs they attended. Approximately 25 percent of a degree program's overall score is determined by data published on Student Reviews, Rate My Professor, and PayScale. The latter contributing 40 percent of this categories data, which involves alumni ratings on how much they believe their degree allows the world to be a better place. The reviews of current students are important – we believe – because it allows prospective grad students to understand the realities of school faculty, coursework, and degree culture where it may not be otherwise transparent.

Student Gratification Source Summary

  • 60% Students Review, Rate My Professor
  • 40% PayScale

Want to Learn More?

The amount of information available for specific degrees are plentiful and Best Masters Degrees aims to provide as many resources as we can. Check out our featured content for more information and resources.

Submitting Inquiries

All questions, suggestions, and questions are received by Best Masters Degrees' Outreach Editors at [email protected]. Please feel free to contact us and we will respond as quickly as possible.