Graduate Degree Program Methodology

Our goal here at College Values Online is to provide the most current and relevant information necessary for prospective students to find a high-quality education at the most affordable price. We believe that presenting this information allows for greater opportunity to make an informed decision as they plan their educational goals. To this end, we have designed a methodology matrix that helps us to determine which colleges and universities can provide this education. Based primarily upon tuition costs, we also considered factors like the potential return on investment, scholarship availability, and overall academic quality.

Our sources include the National Center for Education Statistics, PayScale, Graduate Programs, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individual subject rankings may include additional sources, which will be defined within that ranking’s source list.

When developing rankings, the editors at College Values Online search the web to develop a pool of schools that fit the bill of whatever degree program being analyzed. The tuition cap is set at $30,000, which will eliminate any institutions whose costs are greater. From there, we consult our sources and apply the methodology matrix that has been set to determine which schools from the remaining pool will be placed within the ranking. We determine each school’s position by tallying the points they receive based on the methodology.

Featured Programs

Graduate Degree Program Methodology:


  • Under $10,000 – 4 points
  • Under $15,000 – 3 points
  • Under $20,000 – 2 points
  • Under $25,000 – 1 point

Return on Investment:

  • Top 150: 3 points
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 500: 1 point

Student Based Approval Rating:

  • 80% and higher – 3 points
  • 65% – 79% – 2 points
  • 50% – 64% – 1 point

Accelerated Degree Availability: 1 point
Online Student Support Network: (faculty/mentor/advisor, etc.) 1 point per
“Wow” Factor: 1 point