Selecting A Graduate Program
Find the best fit. Tip: Create a spreadsheet and keep track of your programs based on the following considerations:
- What are the admission requirements?
- What standardized tests are required and what are the typical scores of incoming students?
- What academic prerequisites are there?
- What practical/clinical/research experience is required/ desirable for admission?
- Is a writing sample required?
- How many letters of recommendation are requested?
- When are applications reviewed?
- When are candidates notified about their status?
- Does the school allow deferment and under what conditions?
- What are the academic requirements for completing the degree?
- How much coursework is required?
- Are there qualifying exams? When are they generally taken?
- Is there a thesis or dissertation, and does it have a formal defense?
- Is there a foreign language competency requirement?
- To what extent does a student plan her own program?
- Are there electives?
- Is there a teaching or other practical requirement to complete the degree?
- If not, are there opportunities to acquire practical experience?
- Are there opportunities to publish/present your work?
- If a PhD program, what is the typical length of completion?
- Are fellowships or financial aid available?
- Are they based on need or on merit?
- Are they for incoming students? Enrolled students?
- Is there funding for conference travel or special projects?
- What is the likelihood of you being a recipient?
- Are there teaching or research assistantships? Rotations? Clerkships?
- How and when do students acquire advisors?
- Are they assigned or selected?
- What is the faculty/student ratio?
- Do faculty members in the department represent a variety of points of view toward the discipline?
- Are the research interests of the faculty similar to your own?
- Is there a particular faculty member whose work you know and with whom you would like to collaborate? Is he/she in a position to take you on as an advisee?
- Does the institution have the resources you will need for your studies and/or professional training?
- How extensive and available are the labs and other training facilities?
- Are there specialized research facilities available?
- Do the library resources fit your needs and/or is there a good inter-library loan system?
- Are there cooperative programs with other educational, cultural and research institutions?
- Who will your fellow students be?
- What is the attrition rate? (How frequently do students in the department fail to complete their degree requirements or pass licensure exams?)
- What is the general morale among students?
- Are there opportunities for collaboration with other students?
- What career services exist for graduate students?
- How many of the recent graduates are employed and where?
- Can you make this place your home?
- On a lifestyle level, is the department, university, town a good fit for you?
- Are there issues of race, sexuality, religion, age, family that may determine how happy you will be?