East Coast Graduate Schools with Degree Program Information

There are hundreds of universities in the East Coast states offering graduate education. Read about four of the largest schools and how they compare to each other to find the school for you.

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School Ranking Overview

Students seeking a graduate eduation can find graduate schools in small towns, large cities and everything in between on the East Coast. Public and private schools offer both traditional and distance education for certificate, master's and doctoral programs. Options range from state universities to liberal arts colleges to Ivy League schools. To help students find the right school, this article compares four of the largest schools, ranking the top three of those in the following categories:

  • Program Variety
  • Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Even if students already have a major field of study they want to pursue, having a variety of specializations within a graduate program can ensure they're receiving the education they need to meet their learning goals. Based on data from the NCES College Navigator, the following schools offer over 100 programs:

1. Pennsylvania State University

Located in the center of the state in University Park, PA, Penn State's main campus offers 217 fields of study. Graduate programs available include postbaccalaureate and graduate certificates, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees as well as dual-degree and intercollege graduate majors. Graduate students can also include a minor to their programs. Some fields of study offered include majors in business, natural sciences, engineering, English, computer sciences, education, and healthcare.

2. University of Florida

At it's main campus in Gainesville, FL_, the University of Florida provides education in 183 fields, including agricultural and life sciences, business, medicine and dentistry, engineering, education, journalism, and law. Graduate certificate programs are available in almost every field, including pharmacy, foreign languages, and public health. Master's and doctoral candidates can opt to include concentrations and/or field research as a supplement to their program.

3. Rutgers University

The New Brunswick campus of Rutgers offers 147 major fields of study and 494 graduate concentrations. Programs include diploma, master's, doctoral and non-degree options in education, natural sciences, business, engineering, health sciences, social work, and the humanities. Rutgers 16 professional schools range from arts to medicine, and communications to psychology. The faculty offer research opportunities to graduate students through the many research centers, laboratories and institutes at the campus.


Cost is an important consideration when choosing a graduate school. The NCES College Navigator averages in-state and out-of-state tuition rates at the graduate level. The following schools had the lowest tuition rates for the 2013-2014 academic year among the four schools compared.

1. George Mason University

With the main campus in Fairfax, VA, GMU also offers graduate education at campuses in Arlington and Prince William. The average in-state graduate tuition was $9,350, while out-of-state tuition averaged $25,754. Rates vary based on the program selected, and students could also have to pay additional fees. Students can offset the costs through scholarships, fellowships and other financial aid options.

2. University of Florida

The average graduate tuition rate for in-state students was $10,770, and $27,335 for out-of-state students. The school offers campus employment opportunities, scholarships, assistantships and fellowships to help defray the costs. Doctoral students also have awards available as additional funding sources as they work on their dissertations.

3. Rutgers University

NCES averaged the graduate tuition for Rutgers at $15,552 for in-state students and $25,704 for out-of-state students. Each college sets its own per-credit tuition rate for graduate students, and other fees are required for housing and other expenses. The school offers several options for financial aid to graduate and professional students.

Graduation Rate

Though the NCES only reports graduate rates for undergraduate students, the statistics indicate the quality of education available at the school. The three schools below represent the highest 6-year graduation rates for bachelor's degree students who started in 2007 from among our four profiled schools.

1. University of Florida

Around 87% of bachelor's-seeking Florida Gators graduated within a 6-year period in 2012, and 65% graduated within four years. Additionally, the majority of students have been satisfied with their educational quality - 96% of full-time students enrolled in a second year in 2012.

2. Pennsylvania State University

Penn State graduated 85% of its undergrads within six years of starting their programs, a 2% dip from the last cohort. However, the school awarded bachelor's degrees after four years to 65% of students, which was a slight uptick from the 2005 class. The majority of undergraduates (92%) in 2011 returned to the school in the Fall of 2012.

3. Rutgers University

The graduation rate for undergrads at the 6-year mark was 79%, while 57% completed their degree in four years. Still, a high 91% of first-year students returned to continue their education at Rutgers in 2012.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Getting individual attention and assistance from professors can be vital to getting the best education possible. Out of the four schools compared, the following three showed the lowest student-faculty ratios.

1. Rutgers University

With an average of 14 students for every faculty member, students at Rutgers should have a fairly easy time getting personal attention from their professors. The NCES reported that the school employed 2,471 full-time and 1,828 part-time faculty in addition to 1,526 graduate assistants in 2012.

2. George Mason University

GMU's 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio also provides ample one-on-one instructor time. In 2012, the school had 1,418 full-time faculty and 1,059 part-time faculty. Students seeking help with coursework, research or other program or college-related issues could also get assistance from the 1,225 graduate assistants available.

3. Pennsylvania State University

At a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Penn State also offers small class sizes to give students the individual attention they need. The 3,207 full-time and 1,123 part-time faculty in 2012 served a student body of just under 46,000 students. The school had a large pool of graduate assistants, employing 3,864 that year.

East Coast Schools: At a Glance

School NameLocationSchool TypePrograms OfferedArea Ranking
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VAPublicBachelor's, master's, doctoral and graduate certificates#1 in Lowest Tuition, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park, PAPublicUndergraduate and graduate certificates; associate, bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees#1 in Program Variety, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Rutgers UniversityNew Brunswick, NJPublicUndergraduate and graduate certificates; associate, bachelor's, masters and doctoral degrees#3 in Program Variety, #3 in Lowest Tuition, #3 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of FloridaGainesville, FLPublicGraduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees#2 in Program Variety, #2 in Lowest Tuition, #1 in Graduation Rate
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