Could grad school in the South be the right fit for you?
By Stephanie Small
Published April 10, 2012
The Southern United States - also known simply "The South" or "Dixie" - boasts a unique cultural heritage, diverse climates, enchanting cities and beautiful rural spaces; not to mention some of the arguably best food and accents in America.
Oh yeah - and it's a great place to go to graduate school, too.
From Alabama to West Virginia, the Southern United States boasts over two hundred graduate schools, some of which are top-tier. Duke University in Durham, NC, Rice in Houston, TX, Emory in Atlanta and Vanderbilt in Nashville all fall within the country's top twenty nationally-ranked universities. According to U.S. News and Education, the University of Virginia – Charlottesville has the thirteenth best business school in the country, while Duke, Emory, Baylor and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill all have strong showings for medical school rankings. The more artistic types can pursue their MFA at institutions such as the University of Texas in Austin, UVA - Charlottesville, or the University of Florida – Gainesville, among others. Sure, the Northeast wins the contest of the regions for sheer density and quality of universities, but the South is no slacker.
On the whole, graduate students coming from other regions of the country will probably encounter a more polite culture than the one to which they're accustomed. For example, "sir" and "ma'am" are still in mainstream use. Graduate students will likely be exposed to peers of various faiths and creeds, but church on Sunday is often the norm for those living in the South. While a casual-to-grungy look pervades most campuses across the country, in the South, the "preppy" look is often more popular - think khakis and pearl earrings. However, even these generalizations are shifting as more and more students try out universities in different regions. Some Southern schools do have a large East and West coast population, which of course impacts the culture.
All in all, the South is known both for its conservatism and its old-timey front-porch friendliness, as well as its unique cuisine. The South is proud of its own, as it should be, and counts Martin Luther King, William Faulkner, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Bill Clinton and Rosa Parks among its most illustrious children of the last century. Could graduate school in the South be the right fit for you?