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Graduate School - How Do I Choose a School?

Once you have made the decision to go to graduate school, the next step is to research programs that match your interests and fit your needs. Don't limit yourself at this point, but instead gather information on a broad range of programs.

Gather information

  • Consult sites such as these for researching graduate and professional schools:
  • After searching broadly for graduate schools that interest you, visit each university's homepage, which typically has links for graduate admissions, so you can explore their application process. When applying to graduate school, you are not only applying to a university but to a specific department or program. The best source of information on admission requirements and standards in the department's website because the department has the final say on who is accepted.
  • Contact departments or programs directly to get more detailed program information such as courses, professors, costs, financial aid and application forms. Many programs with offer information sessions for prospective students where you can ask questions about the program and application.
  • Login and check Handshake for upcoming Career Center events and workshops for graduate school. You can also sign up for CareerMail to get email notification of upcoming events.
  • Don't miss Career Center graduate school fairs where you can meet grad school representatives and learn more about the programs they offer. Before you go, read these grad school fair tips.
  • Conduct informational interviews with current graduate students, professionals, and faculty in the graduate programs you are considering to gain insider information.

Evaluate programs - factors to consider

  • Reputation of the Faculty - What are their academic degrees/credentials and research specialties? What is the student/faculty ratio? Look at faculty websites if available.
  • Quality of the Program - This is measured by many different factors, many of which are mentioned below. You may choose to look at graduate school rankings to help you assess a program's quality; however, the rankings may be based on criteria that are different from your own. In addition, many scholars, deans, and advisors question the validity of such rankings.
  • Financial Costs - What are the opportunities for fellowships, assistantships, or scholarships? What other sources of financial aid are available?
  • Admission Requirements - GPA, test scores, undergraduate coursework, specific entrance examinations, etc.
  • Available Course Offerings - Are courses you need to fulfill degree requirements frequently offered? Will the course offerings help you meet your professional or educational goals?
  • Employment - Where are graduates of the program working, and how much are they earning?
  • Facilities - Consider the quality of on-site facilities such as libraries, computer labs, and research facilities.
  • Geographic Location - Will studying in a particular location help you meet personal or professional goals?
  • Student Life - Consider the diversity of students, student organizations, housing, and campus support services.

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