Become a Master: The Best Education Graduate Schools in America

"There is no more important work," as prominent education advocate Howard Fuller says, "than being an educator today."

In a recent interview, Fuller went on to say that what he feels makes a great teacher is two-fold: "content knowledge and the capacity to establish a relationship with kids such that your content knowledge is transferable."

"You have some people who really know a lot but they can’t relate to the kids in a way that allows them to transfer what they know to the kids," he says. "You also have people who are really wonderful with kids, but lack the content knowledge."

More: Education Activist to Watch Says There Needs to Be a ‘Real Gate’ Into the Teaching Profession

If you're interested in teaching, or are curious which graduate schools are the best for education, the U.S. News and World Report has done the legwork for you.

Graduate schools were ranked based on peer assessment, student selectivity, and faculty resources. Here are the top five. You can view the full list here.

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) University of Texas - Austin Stanford University (Stanford, CA) Teachers College, Columbia University (New York, NY)

U.S. News also ranked specialty programs such as special education, elementary teacher education, and education administration and supervision. These rankings are based on nominations from education school deans and education school deans of graduate studies.

Ranking first in special education is the University of Kansas, first in elementary education is Michigan State University, and number one in education administration and supervision is Vanderbilt.

Rankings such as these are important for prospective students for many reasons. One reason, according to Katherine Merseth, a senior lecturer and director of the teacher education program at Harvard University, is because there's a "dirty little secret about schools of education."

Many, she said, have been "cash cows" of universities for years. She added during a panel discussion in 2009 that schools should show us what they can do, "or get out of the business."

U.S News reports, Merseth was not discouraging aspiring teachers from going to graduate school, she was instead "taking aim at institutions that produce ill-prepared teachers and yet insist on holding a monopoly in awarding teaching degrees."

Put simply Merseth said: "We need to hold graduate schools of education more accountable."

Related Stories on TakePart:

Student Loan Crisis: Dropouts Slammed With Debt and No Degree

Teach Plus Executive Director: Why We Need to Rethink the Teaching Profession

Op-Ed: For First-Year Teachers, It’s Sink or Swim

Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee |