Graduate Admissions

Top Ten New Master’s and PhD Programs

–by Dr. Kristen Willmott

Two and a half years ago I wrote: Top New Master’s Programs You’ve Never Heard Of.  It was one of the most popular grad school admissions blogs on our site. I heard from one of the program’s admissions officers who said their website received a record-breaking number of visits to the post. Since then, Top Tier Admissions has helped graduate school applicants get into all ten of the institutions mentioned in the article, and many more.

Much has changed in graduate school admissions since 2016, but new programs continue to emerge at even the most elite institutions. I still believe that applying to new Master’s or doctoral programs can have substantial admissions advantages. As I noted back in 2016, “The program’s direction is still being decided, faculty may be new and more eager to take on advisees, and thousands of possible peer applicants might not even be aware the program exists.”

Assorted headlines recently have featured one of the most unique approaches to a graduate degree in recent history. The gist (as revealed by where else but Vogue) is that Kim Kardashian West plans to become a lawyer without going to law school, and without ever having obtained a college degree. As California does not require a law degree to take the bar exam, she is working towards becoming a “law reader” by apprenticing with a practicing lawyer. The program entails studying and working for four years as an apprentice at a law office or in a judge’s chamber. Kardashian West says she has almost one year down, as she started in July 2018, and will sit for the bar in 2022.

We’ve helped our students prep for the LSAT (needed for law school applications) and secure admission to some of the best law schools in the country including UPenn, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, and Duke. For those without Kardashian blood and seeking the old-fashioned way of career climbing and obtaining a grad school degree, I offer a 2019 update to:



1.) George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School’s Juris Master (JM) Degree: For those not on board with the “law reader” path mentioned above, yet still looking to explore legal studies, George Mason’s new part-time program is a good one to consider. The JM degree (also called an LLM at some law schools, including Harvard and Yale) is aimed at professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues. It’s a two-year, part time program and is offered by over half of all tier one law schools in the country.Applications are accepting on a rolling basis until August 1st for a late August 2019 start.


2.) New York University’s PhD in Data Science: This 72-credit hour program with 3 years of coursework and 2 years of dissertation research offers funding for up to 5 years. It features just 15 credits of required courses and 57 credits of electives, so there are plentiful options for specializing in your preferred subfield.

3.) McGill University’s PhD in Quantitative Life Science: This new program is one of three offered through McGill’s Interfaculty Studies (Biological and Biomedical Engineering and the Integrated Program in Neuroscience are the others) and is currently accepting applicants for September 2019.

4.)  Pepperdine University’s PhD in Global Leadership and ChangeThis is a unique new hybrid (online and Los Angeles campus-based) PhD program for students who are seeking careers in strategy and policy for nonprofit, government, for-profit, and academic institutions. It entails 3 years of coursework, 1 trimester abroad and a 2-year dissertation process.


5.) Tufts University’s Master’s in Offshore Wind Energy Engineering: The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has a new program in this very specific field which is the first of its kind in the U.S. The one-year program focuses on wind policy, technical applications and project management. Part time study is also an option and there’s an added ability to obtain two degrees: an M.S. from the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering AND an M.S. in Innovation and Management.

6.) Georgia Institute of Technology’s Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management: Students in this new program will study topics including sustainable energy, utility regulation and policy, Earth systems, economics of environmental policy, big data and policy analytics, climate policy, and environmental management. They also have access to Georgia Tech’s popular 5-week, 6-credit summer program on Sustainable Development and Climate Change in Venice, Italy.  The program has a flexible 30-credit format, with part time, on-campus, and online options. GIT is accepting applicants through 6/15/19 for the inaugural class; you could apply in May and start in August! PLUS, they are offering up to 7 fully funded fellowships for full-time on-campus students. That means you’d obtain full tuition funding plus a $1,500/month stipend.


7.) University of Texas at Austin’s Master of Science in Health Care Transformation: This new one-year Master’s program focuses on health delivery and creating high-value services in healthcare. It is a joint project between Dell Medical School and the McCombs School of Business. The hybrid program is designed to be completed while working full time and they are currently accepting applicants for the Class of 2020.

8.) University of Rochester’s Master’s in ASL Interpreting in Medicine and ScienceWhile still in the final stages of development, URochester has announced they will launch a new Master’s program, likely in August 2019, aimed at training interpreters who have experience in the deaf community and scientific research. The Master’s program will be one of the first of its kind and based at URMC, which houses Strong Memorial Hospital, the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the University of Rochester School of Nursing.


9.) Tulane University’s Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering: Tulane’s School of Science and Engineering has a new Master’s program designed to help graduates on career paths in biotechnology, aerospace, defense, information technologies and energy. There is an option for an MSE program or an MSE 4+1 program and it can be done in just 24 credits plus a thesis. They have a late application deadline (due 6/30/19) for a fall 2019 start (the first cohort of this program) and there are part-time or full-time study options.


10.) Penn State University’s Master’s in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership: This 30-credit program is aimed at developing corporate leaders and it is offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the University’s Smeal College of Business.

Master's Programs

So, are you interested in law, leadership, healthcare studies, or sustainability? How about working to become one of the seven fully funded Master’s students at Georgia Tech this August? Consider signing up for an Intro to Sustainability Coursera course via U Illinois tonight to gauge your interest in this exciting field. There’s no time like the present and I don’t know about you, but a five-week summer program in Venice and a $1,500 monthly stipend for a Master’s degree, doesn’t sound half bad. You’re only out their $75 application fee to give it a shot.  We’d love to help you plan out your grad school application process from the application to the resume/CV to the essays; please reach out!

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