UNC-Chapel Hill graduate programs climb in national rankings

Several Carolina graduate degree programs highly ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 “Best Graduate Schools”

View of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on June 5, 2019, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

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UNC-Chapel Hill graduate programs climb in national rankings

Several Carolina graduate degree programs highly ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 “Best Graduate Schools”


(Chapel Hill, N.C.— March 17, 2020) – For another year, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate programs received high rankings as part of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” list.


The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy claimed the number one ranking nationwide for the second time in a row. The UNC School of Medicine ranked first for its primary care program for the third year in a row. The UNC School of Nursing’s overall programs ranked in the top 10: tied for third in the Master’s Degree category and first overall for public graduate school programs. The School also ranked seventh for Doctor of Nursing Practice. The UNC School of Government moved up two places in the rankings overall– now tied at 19th – and ranks among the top 20 programs in the country. The UNC School of Education rose three places and tied for 24th overall.


The UNC School of Law jumped seven places and is now tied at 27th overall – a jump of 18 places since 2019 – and in the top 10 of ranked public law schools. This year, the School of Law was ranked in four more specialty areas than in previous years. It now ranks in 13 different specialties, including tied for seventh in legal writing.


U.S. News ranks business, education, engineering, law, nursing and medical programs annually, while various disciplines and specialties in science, social sciences, humanities, health and other areas are only ranked periodically. This year, U.S. News also published fresh academic reputation rankings for graduate programs in public affairs, audiology, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, pharmacy, clinical psychology, occupational therapy and nursing midwifery and for master’s programs in fine arts.


The complete UNC-Chapel Hill ranking and specialty listings follows. A comprehensive list of all rankings and data can be found here.


Eshelman School of Pharmacy

  • Pharmacy, 1st

UNC School of Medicine

  • Overall
    • Primary Care, 1st
    • Research, 23rd
  • Specialty Areas
    • Family Medicine, 3rd
    • Obstetrics & Gynecology, 12th
    • Pediatrics, 18th
    • Psychiatry, 19th
    • Internal Medicine, tied for 24th
  • Health Specialty Programs
    • Audiology, 5th
    • Speech-Language Pathology, tied for 8th
    • Physical Therapy, tied for 9th
    • Occupational Therapy, tied for 10th

UNC School of Nursing

  • Overall
    • Master’s Degree, tied for 3rd
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice, 7th
  • Specialty Areas
    • Nurse Practitioner: Adult Gerontology, Primary Care, tied for 3rd
    • Nurse Practitioner: Psychiatric/Mental Health Across the Lifespan, tied for 3rd
    • Master of Nursing Administration, 4th
    • Master of Nurse Practitioner: Family, 4th
    • Nurse Practitioner: Family, tied for 5th

Kenan-Flagler Business School

  • Overall, tied for 20th
  • Specialty Areas
    • Real Estate, tied for 7th
    • Accounting, tied for 10th
    • Marketing, tied for 14th
    • Executive MBA, 15th
    • Finance, tied for 21st
    • Management, tied for 24th

UNC School of Law

  • Overall, tied for 27th
  • Specialty Areas
    • Legal Writing, tied for 7th
    • Contracts-Commercial Law, tied for 18th
    • Criminal Law, tied for 22nd
    • Health Care Law, tied for 22nd
    • Constitutional Law, tied for 25th
    • Business-Corporate Law, tied for 26th
    • Tax Law, tied for 26th
    • Environmental Law, tied for 37th
    • Clinical Training, tied for 44th
    • International Law, tied for 46th
    • Dispute Resolution, tied for 48th
    • Intellectual Property, tied for 55th
    • Trial Advocacy, tied for 78th

UNC School of Education

  • Overall, tied for 24th
  • Specialty Areas
    • Special Education, 11th
    • Education Policy, 18th
    • Administration and Supervision, tied for 18th
    • Educational Psychology, tied for 18th
    • Elementary Teacher Education, tied for 20th
    • Curriculum and Instruction, tied for 21st

Public Affairs

  • Overall, tied for 19th
  • Specialty Areas
    • Local Government Management, 2nd
    • Public Management and Leadership, 15th
    • Public Finance and Budgeting, 19th
    • Public Policy Analysis, tied for 34th

As part of the public affairs category, U.S. News ranked Carolina programs and specialty areas based in the School of Government and the College of Arts & Sciences’ department of public policy.



  • Specialty Areas
    • Biomedical Engineering/Bioengineering (this is a joint department with N.C. State University), tied for 34th
    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering, tied for 15th

UNC Graduate School

  • Fine Arts Overall, tied for 73rd
  • Clinical Psychology, 2nd

Methodology: U.S. News first ranked graduate programs in 1987 and has done so annually since 1990. Each year it ranks professional programs in business, education, engineering, law, nursing and medicine. Those rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinion on program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students. Its periodic rankings of additional disciplines and specialties in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, health and other areas are based solely on the ratings of peer academic experts, including deans, program directors and senior faculty.


The data for the rankings in all six disciplines comes from statistical surveys of more than 2,081 programs and from reputation surveys sent to more than 24,603 academics and professionals, conducted in fall 2019 and early 2020.


About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools including the College of Arts & Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 336,392 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories and 164 countries. More than 182,182 live in North Carolina.


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