Which Graduate School is Right for You?

To find a graduate school that’s right for you, you should search the Internet for school rankings, ask professors and professionals in the field for recommendations, and consider your personal needs. Below are some additional factors you should assess to find a school that best suits your needs.

Fields

After you’ve determined the discipline you plan to pursue, research the schools within that field to see how they rank. In early 2012, U.S. News released its rankings for the top graduate schools of 2013. The researchers of U.S. News used statistics to measure the quality of schools’ faculty, research, and students, including information on job placement success after graduation and faculty-to-student ratio. In addition to checking current research such as that of U.S. News, you should make sure that you conduct your own to find a graduate school that offers the specific courses that you will need for your academic and career goals.

Tuition

Graduate school is expensive. When you consider the cost of graduate school, you should factor in that you may have to reduce your work hours or possibly quit your job to devote the necessary time to your studies; consequently, you could be facing a substantial amount of debt once you graduate. In addition for availability of financial aid and scholarships, you should also investigate the tuition rates for your schools of choice. Graduate program funding may also be available to you depending on the budget of your school and/or institution. Remember that the best school for you is not necessarily the most expensive, so make sure that you find a graduate school that suits your personal budget.

Time

Consider how much time you have to devote to graduate school, including how much time it will take until you can graduate and how much time you have to devote to school day to day. Some graduate schools offer flexible programs to fit your schedule. Online programs are a popular option for graduate students who have busy schedules, but some people may argue that a “traditional” program is more accepted and credible. However, many traditional universities also offer online graduate programs, quashing the credibility argument. Only you can decide what type of program best suits your personal schedule, so weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each type of program accordingly.

Location

The geographical location of the school is another factor you should consider when trying to find a graduate school. Perhaps you have a family or a job that prevents you from relocating, which would narrow your selection to your immediate area or an online program. Even if you are not tied down to your current area, relocating can be costly, which is important when you take into account that your years in graduate school will probably not be particularly lucrative.

Conducting research about graduate schools is necessary for you to find a graduate school that’s best for you. Applying to graduate school is the next step in the process, so you want to ensure that you will spend your energy applying to the right schools for your field, budget, and lifestyle. 

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