Application procedures and deadlines vary by institution. Start the research process one and a half years before the semester you wish to enroll. Once you have identified an area of study, create a list of schools. Then, review the catalog, department, and faculty information, research focus, financial aid, application process, assistantships, etc.
Different Types of Programs
- Master’s: Available in most fields, generally takes 1–3 years.
- Specialist: Completed after a master’s degree and generally prepares for certification or licensure in the specific field (~1 year)
- Doctoral Degree: Highest educational level, requires original research and/or practical application (length varies greatly)
- GradSchools.com & GraduateGuide.com: research programs
- Petersons.com: research paying for graduate school and test preparation
- PrincetonReview.com: research program rankings/expectations
Select a School
Assess the following to evaluate your fit academically and personally to the available programs of interest:
- Location (distance from family and friends), size (city services and entertainment), and rural versus metropolitan
- Career/academic opportunities for your partner (if applicable)
- Cost of program
- Opportunities for financial support (scholarships, loans, graduate assistantships, graduate teaching assistantships, etc.)
- Research interests are supported.
- Short and long-term career goals will be met.
- Size of a program cohort
- Faculty/student ratio
- Programs focus on research or industry.
- Prerequisite courses for entrance
- Length of program
- Thesis, comprehensive exam and/or internship requirements
Evaluate Program Quality
- To determine quality, consider the programs:
- Commitment to research and scholarship
- The reputation of the school, faculty, and graduates
- Admissions standards
- Accrediting body
Assess your Graduate School Competency
Note whether each of these statements below are true, false or unknown for you:
- ___If I do not go to graduate school now, I may never go.
- ___I can get a job in my field without a graduate degree, but not in my specialized area of interest.
- ___I am still determining my career goals, and graduate school will help me clarify my interests.
- ___I am actively exploring graduate school and direct entry into the marketplace.
- ___ My professors are encouraging me to attend graduate/professional school.
- ___I can only work in my field of interest with a graduate degree.
- ___The job market is crowded, and a graduate degree will make me more competitive.
- ___A graduate degree will significantly increase my entry-level salary.
- ___I like school; I am not ready to leave the academic environment.
- ___I have career-related experience as part of my background.
- ___I have always known that I would go directly from undergraduate school into graduate study.
- ___Most students enter my field of graduate study directly from undergraduate school.
The academic programs of study I am considering are:
My primary reason for considering graduate school now is: