How to Choose a Graduate School and Program

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When Choosing a Graduate School, Consider These 9 Questions

The following are 9 questions you should research and consider before choosing a graduate school and program.

  1. Does the graduate school or program rank nationally or regionally?
  2. Do they have a high job placement rate and are graduates able to pay off their loans relatively quickly upon graduation?
  3. How much time and money will it cost you to complete the graduate program and are you comfortable with that?
  4. What kind of financial assistance is available to students at this graduate school?
  5. Will graduating with a degree from this program help you to reach your career goals?
  6. Are the program graduate professors people that you’d enjoy learning from and working with?
  7. Are the graduate schol’s emphases subjects in which you would like to develop expertise?
  8. Will you enjoy living in the region and city where the school is located?
  9. Will you enjoy the type of students that will be in your cohort – consider their personal and professional background?

Now that you know the questions to consider, here are some of the reasons why these questions are important to consider before you select a graduate school.

Quality and Reputation of the Graduate School and Program

It is a good idea to review a program before enrolling in it since graduate programs are usually measured per each individual program rather than by the university the program is located at. Make sure each program you are considering will meet your demands.

Industry Specialization

Most people choose programs that interest them, but you should also consider how marketable the degree you earn will be after you graduate. Most degrees in science and engineering are very marketable, increasing jobs prospects for those that earn these degrees.

National and Regional Ranking

Many national publications rank the quality of graduate programs. Certain students strive diligently to attend the schools that are ranked highest on the list. Schools that are highly ranked are usually expensive to attend. Although these schools offer quality education and ample resources for students, it is advisable not to solely make your decision based on a school’s rating.

Resources and Facilities of the Graduate School

You must also take into consideration whether the resources and facilities offered by certain schools will enable to meet your education goals. For example, if you begin an engineering program, you must ensure the school’s labs are sufficient for your research goals. For these reasons, it is advisable to tour the school.


Since you will live in the area where you decide to study for a few years, be sure to choose somewhere you want to live. Also, you should also consider if the area you decide is somewhere you would like to work after graduating since many students meet contacts in the region where they receive their education. Moreover, do not choose an area that might negatively affect your health. If you had a problem with altitude, you probably would not want to study in Denver. You should also consider if you want to move far from your family or live relatively nearby. If you would like more information about the community a particular school is located in, you can usually find information about it on the school’s website.

The People and Culture

While looking for a school, you should also take time to learn about the people you will be working with, especially potential advisors and professors since you will spend years working with these individuals. It is a good idea to schedule appointments to meet with people you will potentially be working with while you are attending graduate school. Likewise, spend some time speaking to people who have worked with them in the past.

The Cost of the Graduate Program

Cost is a very important consideration before deciding upon a school. Since many students must take out massive student loans to pay for school, where you attend can determine how many years you spend repaying loans. However, the type of degree you are pursuing will often determine how much financial aid you receive. Many students in doctorate programs receive grants or stipends to pay for their tuition and living expenses. Many schools will permit doctorate students to teach classes and earn some money while pursuing their degree.

The Quality of Life

Since you will be living in the same area for the years during your graduate study, you must consider the quality of life you will enjoy in the area. Students with families must consider whether their families will be happy in the area. Take some time to visit the city where you will live to determine how you and your family will enjoy the area. If you have children, it would be a good idea to visit schools and healthcare facilities. Likewise, you should also be aware how expensive it will be to live in the city the school you attend is located in.

Outcomes Post-Graduation

Your degree will not be as valuable to you if you do not meet your goals. Make sure the program you select will enable you to do this. Likewise, take some time to review job placement rates with each program you are considering as well as other important facts relating to the program.

The preceding list is not conclusive; there are numerous factors to take into consideration before deciding where to attend graduate school. Do not rush into a decision, and do not be afraid to ask questions when deciding where to attend graduate school.

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