The Old Well on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

The Old Well on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.


North Carolina’s top research universities were recognized Tuesday by U.S. News & World Report for their graduate programs with several earning top 10 rankings for 2023.

UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University health care programs placed in the top 5 among their peers. N.C. State University’s statistics program was the school’s highest-ranked program at 11th, and its engineering and education programs ranked just outside the top 25.

U.S. News ranks schools based on surveys of programs, academic experts and professionals in their respective fields. The organization aims to provide insight for prospective students looking to further their education in different disciplines, including business, engineering, law, medicine and nursing.

Public health

UNC had the highest-ranked graduate program in the state among public schools. The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health was again ranked the No. 1 public school of public health in the nation. Among public and private schools, the public health graduate program ranked No. 2 overall for the fifth time. It tied with Harvard University and came behind Johns Hopkins University, which are both private universities.

UNC Charlotte ranked 70th overall in public heath, followed by UNC Greensboro (89) and East Carolina University (138).

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. N&O file photo


The Duke University School of Nursing ranked No. 2 overall in two programs. For its doctor of nursing practice program, Duke landed in a three-way tie for No. 2 with Rush University and the University of Washington, behind Johns Hopkins. For its nursing master’s program, Duke tied for No. 2 with Emory University, again behind Johns Hopkins.

UNC-CH’s nursing programs were also ranked among the best in the country at No. 14 for its doctor of nursing practice program and No. 8 for its nursing master’s program. UNCG was ranked at 47 overall for its doctor of nursing practice program, while UNCC (95), Winston-Salem State University nursing master’s programs ranked 95 and 127, respectively.


For primary care, UNC-CH ranked 5th best in the country, followed by ECU (26), Wake Forest (68) and Duke (78).

For research, Duke ranked 6th in the country, followed by UNC-CH (25), Wake Forest (47) and ECU (95-124 with peers).


For full-time MBA programs, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business ranked the highest in North Carolina at 12th. UNC-CH’s Kenan-Flagler Business School ranked 19th. NC State’s Poole College of Management (67) and NC A&T’s Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics (94) ranked in the top 100. Appalachian State University was also listed with peers between 102-134.

For part-time MBA programs, Wake Forest University’s School of Business ranked the highest in the state at 19th. NCSU (57), UNCC (69), Elon University (88) also ranked in the top 100.

UNC Greensboro (114), Fayetteville State University and Queens University of Charlotte (tied at 199) were also recognized. UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina University and App State were listed along their peers between 212-278.

Rankings for graduate programs in North Carolina

Here’s a breakdown of how other graduate programs at universities across North Carolina ranked:

Biology: Duke ranked the highest among North Carolina universities at 11th, followed by UNC-CH at 25. Wake Forest University (88), N.C. State (93), UNC Charlotte (175), UNC Greensboro and East Carolina University (tied at 251) and North Carolina A&T State University (275) were also recognized.

Biostatistics: UNC-CH ranked 5th and Duke ranked 13th.

Duke University Campus April 2020
UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University professors are getting checks from Duke as part of a $19 million settlement after a class-action lawsuit alleged the schools colluded on hiring decisions. Bill Snead Duke University

Chemistry: UNC-CH ranked in the top 20 at 17th, followed by Duke (35), NCSU (62), Wake Forest (128) and UNCG (165).

Computer Science: Duke (23), UNC-CH (26), NC State (49), UNCC (99) and NC A&T (175).

Economics: Duke (18), UNC-CH (30), NCSU (61) and UNCG (120).

Education: UNC-CH (23), NCSU (28), UNCG (67), UNCC (76), ECU (89), App State (106), WCU (131), UNCW (153) and FSU (207-274 with peers).

CC Aerial - Hunt.png
N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus is home to many technology companies, including Bandwidth. N.C. State

Engineering: Duke (24), NCSU (26), UNC-CH (64), NC A&T (146) and UNCC (152-200 with peers).

Geology: Duke (36), UNC-CH (51), NCSU (70), UNCW (131) and NC A&T (152)

Law: Duke (11), UNC-CH (23) and Wake Forest (37). Campbell University, Elon and North Carolina Central University were listed among their peers at 147-192.

Math: Duke (17), UNC-CH (29), NCSU (53), UNCC (115) and UNCG (168).

Physics: Duke (28), UNC (38), NCSU (68), Wake Forest (112) and UNCC (122).

Psychology: Duke (12), UNC (12), UNCG (111), NCSU (122), UNCC (140) and ECU (210).

Public Affairs: UNC (20), Duke (23), NCSU and UNCC (tied at 49), UNCG (102), UNCW (114), ECU (144), NCCU and WCU (tied at 170) and UNC Pembroke (213).

Social Work: UNC (7), UNCC and UNCG (tied at 72), NCSU (79), UNCW (94). ECU, FSU and NCCU tied at 196th, followed by UNCP and WCU (tied at 227).

Statistics: Duke (7), NCSU and UNC (11), UNCC (70) and UNCG (86).

The U.S. News Graduate School Compass offers more detailed rankings, data and methodology. The list of North Carolina universities’ 2022 rankings are compiled online for comparison.

This story was originally published March 29, 2022 12:01 AM.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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