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2021 Most Popular Nursing Master's Degree Schools

668 Schools Ranked
$42,682 Avg Student Debt

When it comes to higher education, there are a lot of options for nursing students. You're no longer limited to schools in your local area, either, since online programs are becoming more prevalent. Or you may find the programs at a trade school or bootcamp to be a better alternative for you.

Along with in-depth profiles of schools and the programs they offer, Nursing Degree Search has created the Most Popular Nursing Master's Degree Schools to help you in your search for the best school for you. This report analyzed 668 schools in the United States to see which ones were the most popular master's degree programs for nursing students. To create this ranking we looked at how many students graduated from each school on the list.

Learn more about these popular schools below:

#1

Walden University

Minneapolis, Minnesota
3,551 Total Awards
$12,539 Average Tuition & Fees
$49,877 Avg Student Debt

Our 2021 rankings named Walden University the most popular school in the United States for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Walden University is a private for-profit institution located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school has a large population, and it awarded 3,551 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Walden University accumulate an average of $49,877 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 87% were women.

If you are interested in distance education, Walden University is an excellent choice, since graduate classes are offered online.

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3,407 Total Awards
$13,940 Average Tuition & Fees
$38,155 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree programs at Chamberlain University - Illinois helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the most popular nursing schools in the United States. This large private for-profit school is located in Addison, Illinois, and it awarded 3,407 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $38,155 in loans while pursuing their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 91% were women.

Since the graduate programs at Chamberlain - Illinois are primarily online school, so it is a great choice for returning adults and students who work full time.

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#3

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, Utah
3,259 Total Awards
$7,790 Average Tuition & Fees
$14,394 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree programs at Western Governors University helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the most popular nursing schools in the United States. WGU is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 3,259 master’s degrees to qualified students.

Master’s Degree recipients from WGU accumulate an average of $14,394 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Around 92% of those degree recipients were women.

Since the graduate programs at WGU are primarily online school, so it is a great choice for returning adults and students who work full time.

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#4

Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, Arizona
1,925 Total Awards
$11,074 Average Tuition & Fees
$32,753 Avg Student Debt

You’ll be in good company if you attend Grand Canyon University. The school came in at #4 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Grand Canyon University is located in Phoenix, Arizona and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,925 master’s degrees to qualified students.

Master’s Degree recipients from Grand Canyon University accumulate an average of $32,753 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 89% were women.

Grand Canyon University does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In fact, around 94% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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1,216 Total Awards
$14,019 Average Tuition & Fees
$47,169 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree programs at South University’s online programs helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the most popular nursing schools in the United States. South University’s online programs is a medium-sized private for-profit school situated in Savannah, Georgia. It awarded 1,216 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $47,169 in student loans. Around 88% of those degree recipients were women.

Since the graduate programs at South University’s online programs are online, the school is an excellent choice for graduate students who need more flexibility than what is offered at some other schools.

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1,183 Total Awards
$10,248 Average Tuition & Fees
$32,080 Avg Student Debt

The University of Texas at Arlington ranked #6 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. UT Arlington is located in Arlington, Texas and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,183 master’s degrees to qualified students.

On average, master’s degree students take out $32,080 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 89% of those degree recipients were women.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at UT Arlington. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 59% took at least some of their classes online.

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#7

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri
814 Total Awards
$15,646 Average Tuition & Fees
$38,944 Avg Student Debt

Maryville University of Saint Louis ranked #7 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Located in Saint Louis, Missouri, the fairly large private not-for-profit school handed out 814 master’s degree awards in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $38,944 in student loans. Of those students who received their degree, 88% were women.

One thing to take note of is that Maryville U does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In fact, around 83% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#8

University of South Alabama

Mobile, Alabama
744 Total Awards
$8,156 Average Tuition & Fees
$43,996 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #8, University of South Alabama did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Located in Mobile, Alabama, the fairly large public school awarded 744 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $43,996 in student loans. Around 87% of those degree recipients were women.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at USA. During the 2017-2018 year, about 71% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#9

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama
643 Total Awards
$8,100 Average Tuition & Fees
$39,004 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #9, University of Alabama at Birmingham did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. UAB is a public institution located in Birmingham, Alabama. The school has a large population, and it awarded 643 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $39,004 in student loans. Of those students who received their degree, 86% were women.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since UAB does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In 2017-2018 about 51% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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640 Total Awards
$16,752 Average Tuition & Fees
$37,591 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #10, University of Phoenix - Arizona did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. This large private for-profit school is located in Tempe, Arizona, and it awarded 640 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $37,591 in student loans. Around 89% of those degree recipients were women.

UOPX - Arizona does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In 2017-2018 about 98% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#11

Kaplan University-Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana
625 Total Awards
$9,603 Average Tuition & Fees
$50,018 Avg Student Debt

Kaplan University-Indianapolis landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the most popular master’s degree nursing programs. Kaplan University-Indianapolis is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 625 master’s degrees to qualified students.

On average, master’s degree students take out $50,018 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 89% of those degree recipients were women.

Kaplan University-Indianapolis is one of the schools on our list that is primarily online. Each graduate student at the school took at least one class online.

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#12

Frontier Nursing University

Hyden, Kentucky
621 Total Awards
$19,675 Average Tuition & Fees
$57,899 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #12, Frontier Nursing University did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Frontier Nursing University is located in Hyden, Kentucky and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 621 master’s degrees to qualified students.

Master’s Degree recipients from Frontier Nursing University accumulate an average of $57,899 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Around 96% of those degree recipients were women.

Interested in an online degree? Then you definitely want to check out Frontier Nursing University. Every graduate student at the school took at least one class online.

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#13

Simmons University

Boston, Massachusetts
592 Total Awards
$21,818 Average Tuition & Fees
$53,409 Avg Student Debt

Simmons University ranked #13 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Boston, Massachusetts is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 592 students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $53,409 in student loans. Of those students who received their degree, 94% were women.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Simmons. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 69% took at least some of their classes online.

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#14

Capella University

Minneapolis, Minnesota
509 Total Awards
$15,233 Average Tuition & Fees
$46,391 Avg Student Debt

Capella University came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools ranking. Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the large private for-profit school awarded 509 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $46,391 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 91% of those degree recipients were women.

Interested in an online degree? Then you definitely want to check out Capella University. Every graduate student at the school took at least one class online.

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483 Total Awards
$14,468 Average Tuition & Fees
$37,649 Avg Student Debt

University of Cincinnati - Main Campus landed the #15 spot in the 2021 rankings for the most popular master’s degree nursing programs. UC is a public institution located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The school has a large population, and it awarded 483 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $37,649 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 87% of those degree recipients were women.

UC does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. In 2017-2018 about 47% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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421 Total Awards
$11,977 Average Tuition & Fees
$40,598 Avg Student Debt

Indiana Wesleyan University - National & Global ranked #16 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Marion, Indiana is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 421 students in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from IWU accumulate an average of $40,598 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Around 90% of those degree recipients were women.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at IWU. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 83% took at least some of their classes online.

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#17

Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
358 Total Awards
$36,021 Average Tuition & Fees
$57,970 Avg Student Debt

Drexel University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the most popular places for nursing students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #17 on the list. This large private not-for-profit school is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 358 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $57,970 in loans while pursuing their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 88% were women.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Drexel does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 12% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#18

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee
349 Total Awards
$49,124 Average Tuition & Fees
$57,628 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #18, Vanderbilt University did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Nashville, Tennessee is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 349 students in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Vanderbilt accumulate an average of $57,628 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 89% were women.

One thing to take note of is that Vanderbilt does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In fact, around 14% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#19

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York
337 Total Awards
$13,558 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,380 Avg Student Debt

Stony Brook University landed the #19 spot in the 2021 rankings for the most popular master’s degree nursing programs. Located in Stony Brook, New York, the large public school handed out 337 master’s degree awards in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $33,380 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 90% of those degree recipients were women.

SUNY Stony Brook does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. During the 2017-2018 year, about 23% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#20

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
318 Total Awards
$40,182 Average Tuition & Fees
$70,872 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #20, University of Pennsylvania did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. University of Pennsylvania is a large private not-for-profit school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that handed out 318 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from UPenn accumulate an average of $70,872 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 89% were women.

UPenn does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 3% took at least some of their classes online.

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#21

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland
316 Total Awards
$57,556 Average Tuition & Fees
$42,033 Avg Student Debt

Johns Hopkins University landed the #21 spot in the 2021 rankings for the most popular master’s degree nursing programs. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the large private not-for-profit school handed out 316 master’s degree awards in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $42,033 in student loans. Of those students who received their degree, 87% were women.

Online graduate courses are available at Johns Hopkins, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 54% took at least some of their classes online.

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313 Total Awards
$9,535 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,746 Avg Student Debt

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston did quite well in this year’s ranking of the most popular places for nursing students to get a master’s degree. It came in at #22 on the list. Located in Houston, Texas, the medium-sized public school awarded 313 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $33,746 in student loans. Around 87% of those degree recipients were women.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at UTHealth. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 21% took at least some of their classes online.

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#23

Georgetown University

Washington, District of Columbia
300 Total Awards
$51,790 Average Tuition & Fees
$66,954 Avg Student Debt

Georgetown University ranked #23 on this year’s Most Popular Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Georgetown is a fairly large private not-for-profit school situated in Washington, District of Columbia. It awarded 300 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $66,954 in loans while pursuing their degree. Of those students who received their degree, 92% were women.

One thing to take note of is that Georgetown does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In fact, around 20% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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282 Total Awards
$10,428 Average Tuition & Fees
$36,275 Avg Student Debt

University of South Florida - Main Campus landed the #24 spot in the 2021 rankings for the most popular master’s degree nursing programs. University of South Florida - Main Campus is a large public school located in Tampa, Florida that handed out 282 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $36,275 in loans while pursuing their degree. Around 84% of those degree recipients were women.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at USF Tampa. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 37% took at least some of their classes online.

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#25

American Sentinel University

Aurora, Colorado
254 Total Awards
$6,840 Average Tuition & Fees
$23,040 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #25, American Sentinel University did quite well on this year’s most popular schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. This small private for-profit school is located in Aurora, Colorado, and it awarded 254 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from American Sentinel University accumulate an average of $23,040 in student debt by the time they complete their degree. Around 92% of those degree recipients were women.

American Sentinel University is one of the schools on our list that is primarily online. Each graduate student at the school took at least one class online.

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Not only did these schools make the top 50 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#27

Samuel Merritt University

Oakland, California
#29

Olivet Nazarene University

Bourbonnais, Illinois
#29

Aspen University

Denver, Colorado
#32

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona
#32

Sacred Heart University

Fairfield, Connecticut
#34

DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois
#35

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville, Florida
#36

Texas Woman's University

Denton, Texas
#36

University of South Carolina - Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina
#36

University of San Francisco

San Francisco, California
#39

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina
#40

Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
#41

University of Maryland - Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland
#42

George Washington University

Washington, District of Columbia
#43

New York University

New York, New York
#44

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
#45

University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California
#45

Wilkes University

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
#49

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, Michigan
#50

Benedictine University

Lisle, Illinois

To learn more about the schools below, just click on their names:

Rank School Location
51 University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
52 National University College Bayamon, PR
53 The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX
54 Augusta University Augusta, GA
54 Universidad del Turabo Gurabo, PR
56 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
56 Hunter College New York, NY
58 Rush University Chicago, IL
58 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
60 Florida International University Miami, FL
61 Marquette University Milwaukee, WI
62 Regis University Denver, CO
63 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
64 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH
65 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
66 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
67 Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
68 Emory University Atlanta, GA
69 Barry University Miami, FL
69 Excelsior College Albany, NY
71 Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science Los Angeles, CA
72 Miami Regional University Miami Springs, FL
72 West Coast University - Orange County Anaheim, CA
72 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
75 Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY
76 University of California - San Francisco San Francisco, CA
77 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
78 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
79 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
79 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
81 Herzing University - Madison Madison, WI
82 Ohio University - Athens Campus Athens, OH
83 Mount St. Joseph University Cincinnati, OH
84 Yale University New Haven, CT
84 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
86 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL
87 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN
88 Regis College Weston, MA
88 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
90 Ball State University Muncie, IN
90 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
92 University of Virginia - Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
92 The University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, TX
94 Texas Wesleyan University Fort Worth, TX
94 California State University - Long Beach Long Beach, CA
96 Pace University - New York New York, NY
96 University of San Diego San Diego, CA
98 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC
98 MGH Institute of Health Professions Boston, MA
98 Northeastern University Boston, MA
98 St Catherine University Saint Paul, MN
98 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our most popular nursing schools ranking:

Rank School Location
103 University of Southern Indiana Evansville, IN
103 SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Brooklyn, NY
105 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY
106 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
106 Rivier University Nashua, NH
106 Xavier University Cincinnati, OH
106 Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, TX
106 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
111 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
112 Carlow University Pittsburgh, PA
113 D’Youville College Buffalo, NY
114 South University, Tampa Tampa, FL
115 Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
115 University of Mississippi University, MS
117 Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ
118 Seattle University Seattle, WA
119 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
119 King University Bristol, TN
119 Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans, LA
122 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
123 LIU Post Brookville, NY
124 University of St Francis Joliet, IL
124 University of Toledo Toledo, OH
126 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
127 Saint Xavier University Chicago, IL
128 Lincoln Memorial University Harrogate, TN
128 Western University of Health Sciences Pomona, CA
130 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
130 California State University - Dominguez Hills Carson, CA
132 Auburn University Auburn, AL
132 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
132 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI
132 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio, TX
132 Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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