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U.S. News Releases 2014 Best Graduate Schools Rankings

See where schools ranked in medicine and more.

 A graduate degree can be the ticket to a six-figure salary for some students, but leave others drowning in debt. Several factors determine which camp a grad student will fall into, including degree choice, graduate school savings, and the school itself.

Students who earn a master's in bioengineering, for instance, typically earn more than those with an advanced degree instudent counseling, and an MBA grad from Harvard University is more likely to snag a $100,000 starting salary than one from a less prestigious b-school.

The U.S. News 2014 Best Graduate Schools rankings, released today, can help students sort through the myriad options available to them. The rankings evaluate programs in business, law, medicine, engineering, and education—including specialties within each discipline. This year's updated rankings also include graduate programs in the social sciences and humanities and library and information studies

Ranking methodologies vary by discipline, but admissions selectivity and expert opinions on program quality are part of the equation for most programs. Job-placement statistics were also used to gauge the effectiveness of business schools and law schools, and salary data factored into the b-school rankings.U.S. News recognizes that a part-time receptionist gig doesn't hold the same weight for a newly minted J.D. as a full-time junior associate position at a law firm, and the law school rankings methodology was updated to reflect that. Now, to receive full weight in the placement success indicator, a school's graduates must have full-time jobs in which bar passage is required or a J.D. gives them an advantage.

Medicine: Stanford climbed two spots to take over as the No. 2 medical research school, behind Harvard. Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, previously tied for second with the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, dropped to third. Penn is now tied with the University of California—San Francisco for fourth.In this year's primary care rankings, the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill traded places with the University of Washington to claim the top spot. Little changed among the top 10 schools for primary care, but the Baylor College of Medicine and Mayo Medical School each made significant gains, joining the top 25 by improving their ranks from 49th to a tie at 24th and from 31st to a tie at 19th, respectively.

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