One reader writes: I'm applying to master's programs. I see national rankings for doctoral programs, but not master's. What do I do?"
One thing you could do is to compare the doctoral rankings with your list -- graduate programs are graduate programs -- same faculty and so on for masters and doctoral. However, rankings don't necessarily give much advice about the quality of programs relative to applicants' specific needs. Even programs that rank highly may not be for you. It's fit that matters.
Look carefully at each program without worrying too much about rankings. First, is the institution a "real" college or university? Does it have accredited undergraduate programs? Second, look at the program itself -- the courses required. Will those courses provide the education you desire? What applied experiences are offered, if desired? Will they fit your needs? How many students are admitted each year and enrolled? What do graduates do after graduation (this is important) -- do they go to graduate school, get jobs in industry? Does this fit with your own desire? Who are the faculty? What are their research interests? Do your own interests match? Do faculty incorporate students into their research?
While rankings are useful -- it's the answers to these questions that really matter. It's a question of whether the program is right for you -- your needs and your aspirations.
Also see: Selecting a Graduate Program