CU-Boulder graduate programs ranked among nation’s best

March 15, 2016

The University of Colorado Boulder once again made a strong showing in annual rankings of graduate programs published today by U.S. News & World Report. As in years past, CU-Boulder’s bright spots range from exploring the far reaches of the cosmos to creating fine art with clay.

CU-Boulder’s graduate program in atomic, molecular and optical physics maintained its No. 1 spot in the nation; and the fine arts ceramics program made the nation's top five list.

Find additional rankings published in the 2017 edition of “Best Graduate Schools" below. (Some rankings include ties with other institutions; and not all disciplines are ranked by the publication).


In engineering, CU-Boulder was rated best in the state of Colorado and No. 33 nationally, bumping up one spot from last year. In terms of specialized top 10 lists, CU-Boulder ranked No. 8 for aerospace engineering, moving up two notches from last year.

Chemical engineering went up to No. 15 from No. 16 last year; environmental engineering ranked No. 21; civil engineering ranked No. 24; mechanical engineering ranked No. 34 this year, moving up one spot from last year; electrical engineering ranked No. 38; and computer engineering, No. 48.


CU-Boulder was the most highly ranked school of education in Colorado, coming in at No. 28 nationally, up one notch from last year. CU-Boulder also ranked No. 10 in education policy, up from No. 16 last year; and the curriculum and instruction program ranked No. 20, up from No. 29 last year. 

The sciences

In this category, which ranks doctoral programs deemed to be best by deans and department chairs, CU-Boulder maintained its No. 1 spot nationally in atomic, molecular and optical physics. It ranks No. 8 in quantum physics; No. 9 in physical chemistry and geology; No. 18 in physics; No. 23 in Earth sciences; No. 24 in chemistry; No. 30 in biological sciences; No. 40 in computer sciences; and No. 46 in mathematics.

The science programs were last updated in 2014.

Fine arts

Once again, CU-Boulder's ceramics program made it to the list of the nation's top, moving up three spots to No. 5. Fine arts in general ranked No. 59. 


CU-Boulder's Colorado Law was ranked No. 40 with its environmental law program ranked as No. 8 in the nation. In addition, Colorado Law's intellectual property program ranked No. 29; and clinical training program ranked No. 30. 

Health disciplines

In the health-disciplines category, CU-Boulder’s doctoral program in audiology shot up 10 spots to No. 17. The doctoral program in clinical psychology ranked No. 16, up two spots; and the master's program in speech language pathology went up one spot to come in at No. 24 in the nation.


The Leeds School of Business moved up the list to No. 77 from No. 86. In terms of the nation’s best part-time MBA programs, the Leeds School of Business ranked No. 59.

Social science

In the category of social science and humanities, CU-Boulder’s psychology program maintained its No. 30 ranking. Political science is ranked at No. 45 and sociology No. 46. The English and history programs are ranked at No. 50.

These social science and humanities programs were last ranked in 2013.


CU-Boulder's graduate program in economics ranked No. 53. This program was last ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. 

The rankings

Rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinions about program quality and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students. These data points come from surveys of more than 1,900 programs and more than 13,700 academics and professionals.

Through the publication U.S. News & World Report aims to provide a tool to students and parents who are comparing college programs at accredited public and private universities in the United States.

Detailed statistical data collected about each program in the six largest graduate disciplines can be found on searchable directory pages at, as well as in the "Best Graduate Schools 2017" print guidebook on sale at newsstands on April 5.

Complete school data and the full versions of specialty rankings, such as executive MBA and international law, will only be available through the subscription-based U.S. News Graduate School Compass.