Researching Schools

Once you have answered the questions above and feel confident about going to graduate school, the next step is to decide where to go. Below are some things to consider. We have also provided a comparison chart on page 77 to help you stay organized.

  • Full time or part time?
  • Online or In Person?
  • Master’s or Doctorate?

HERE ARE SOME SOURCES FOR FINDING INFORMATION:

  • Talk with individuals who have knowledge of the field (faculty, advisors, friends, alumni, counselors) to determine what type of advance degree is needed.
  • Consult books, articles, websites and graduate school catalogs.
  • Write to individual graduate departments requesting information.
  • Visit schools to meet with faculty and current graduate students.
  • Talk by phone or establish an email discussion with graduate students enrolled in the programs which you are considering.
  • Meet with graduate school recruiters on campus.
  • Attend graduate school fairs and forums.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A GRADUATE SCHOOL:

ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

  • Can you realistically get admitted?
  • How competitive is admission to the program?
  • Do you meet the admissions requirements (GPA, test scores, course background, work experience, etc.)?
  • Does the department prefer to admit recent college graduates or applicants with work experience?
  • Does the department have a preference for full-time or part-time students?

CURRICULUM

  • Does the graduate school have the curriculum you plan to pursue?
  • Does the primary emphasis of the program suit your educational goals?
  • Will the curriculum provide you with the background you desire?
  • How do the requirements of the program compare to those of other institutions?
  • How many courses/credits are required?
  • Is a foreign language required?
  • How many and what type of qualifiers are required (written/oral comprehensive exams, thesis, dissertation)?
  • In what length of time can you complete the program?
  • Does the program include practical experience?

REPUTATION AND QUALITY OF PROGRAM

  • What is the reputation of the school, department, faculty and alumni?
  • What type of reputation does the program have within the field you wish to enter after receiving your degree?
  • What do students and faculty think of the program?
  • How do alumni feel about their experience in the program?
  • Is the program accredited? By whom?

PLACEMENT

  • How many students complete the program?
  • What percentage of the graduates find employment?
  • Does the department help with placement of their graduates?
  • What kinds of employment are most frequently pursued by graduates of the program?
  • To what extent can you use the degree from this department to get into other kinds of work?

FACULTY

  • How many faculty members are there?
  • What is the faculty/student ratio?
  • Is there a variety of points of view in the department or do most of the faculty follow one philosophy? What is the philosophy?
  • Are there faculty within the program who would be willing and available to supervise your work?
  • Are the faculty committed to teaching? Research? Service?
  • What have the faculty published lately?
  • Are the faculty well known in their field?
  • How available to students are the faculty?

LOCATION AND SIZE

  • Do you want to attend a large or small school?
  • Do you prefer large or small classes?
  • In what geographical area do you want to attend school?
  • How close to your family and friends do you want to be located?
  • Do you want to be in a city, suburban or rural area?
  • Does the community offer social, recreational and cultural activities you enjoy?
  • Is graduate housing available? What kind of off-campus housing is available?
  • Is there public transportation to the school from the community?

COST/FINANCIAL AID

  • What is the cost of the program?
  • Has the cost risen over the last few years? Is the cost expected to rise?
  • How much financial assistance is awarded in the form of fellowships, assistantships, paid internships, loans, etc.? Are these forms of assistance available in the first year? Do these extend beyond the first year?
  • Will you be granted tuition remission?
  • How much of a stipend, if any, will you receive?

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