Researching Potential Graduate Schools by Thomas Elton IV

This month’s entry will discuss researching potential graduate school programs. This process can start as early as freshman year (to give you time to meet admission requirements for a school you want to go to), or senior year or later depending on when you want to enroll in a graduate program.
When researching potential graduate school programs one should do the following:

1. Determine what type of graduate degree you want to earn. There are many graduate degrees out there; you need to decide if you want a MA, MS, MBA, MPA, MPH, MSW or other graduate degree. With this step you should also decide if there is a specific area within that degree that you would like to concentrate or focus on. Some schools may not have the degree at all while others may have your selected degree with a focus or concentration that no other school may have. Some schools may even offer dual graduate degree options.

2. Investigate which schools have your selected degree/degrees with your interest area. Once you have decided what you want to study, you need to research what schools have those programs and make a list of those potential schools.

3. Investigate admission requirements and application deadlines for the potential schools. Once you have generated a list of potential programs, go through the list and look up the admission requirements for each school. Graduate programs will have different admission requirements that may include but are not limited to one’s GPA, standardized test scores, classes that one should have taken, or even work experience. For example a graduate program may require an applicant to have a 3.5 GPA, score 300 on the GRE, and have an undergraduate degree in a related field; while another program may require a 3.3 GPA, doesn’t require a standardized test score if you meet the GPA requirement, and the requirement for undergraduate degree is the fact that you have earned one in any field of study. Once you have researched the admission requirements of potential graduate programs, you can remove all of the schools on the list that you do not meet or do not see yourself meeting their requirements. Also at this time, if early enough you can start meeting requirements that you have not met. For example if a program requirement is that you take a biology course and you have time before graduate, you can register and take the course so that you can fulfill the requirement and potentially apply to the school if you want to.

4. Look at the remaining schools on the list and consider their location, the type of institution, cost and what type of funding do they provide. Once you have a list of schools you have decided you are eligible to apply for, begin looking at the schools as a whole to find out where you might want to go. Some questions that you may want to answer are:

A) Is the school a public, or private institution?

B) How far the institution from where you currently are and do you have to pay out of state tuition?

C) How much will a graduate degree at this institution cost you and do they offer fellowships, graduate assistantships, or research assistantships?

Once you have done your research, you can take or retake the standardized tests, work toward and meet requirements if have not. After this you can make the decisions on which programs you would like to move forward and apply for. Good Luck!