Researching Graduate Programs 101

Information compiled by the team - January 2013

Researching Graduate Schools 101

You’ve probably been advised to do a little research into different graduate schools, but you may be wondering how exactly to conduct this research. Here are a few suggestions that may help get you started.

1.  Explore your options -

Use the directory to browse thousands of graduate degree programs. Request information about the schools you are interested in directly from the listings pages. The schools will send specific program information to your inbox or home address.

2. Check out their websites - 

Visit the school/program websites – spend some time reading recent news about the program, and the school in general. Peruse faculty pages, check out student housing and other student services pages to gain more insight into the life at the institution. Use your time on the site as a virtual tour of the school.

3. Make Contact -

Identify a staff member or administrator within the department you are thinking of applying to as a point of contact.  You can call or email this person with any questions you may have during the application process.

You may want to reach out to your identified contact person immediately to introduce yourself as a prospective student.   Explain to them where you are in your search process, share your academic goals, and research interests. Ask if they can put you in touch with any faculty members whose research matches your interests. You can also ask about the availability of assistantships within the department.

You may be able get a lot of your questions about a graduate program answered by establishing a good relationship with this contact. Be polite and clear about your expectations and ask informed questions about the program – Don’t be shy, answering the questions of prospective students is a part of this person’s job, just be sure to be respectful of their time and appreciative of their services.

4. Check out their ranking -

Look for school ranking information; you can try to Google terms like “best business graduate programs” to find rankings information. You can find accreditation information using the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website. 

5. Connect with others -

Use social networking sites to connect with current and former students. Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the more common sites you can use to informally or formally connect with individuals. If a connection lives in your area you may even want to set up a time to meet in person over coffee to discuss their experiences at the school. 

If using social networking does not produce any meaningful results you can contact an administrator at the school and ask them to put you in contact with a current or former student.

6. Research faculty projects -

If you have a very specific research goal you may want to look through scholarly journal articles (you may find articles at library or by using Google Scholar) relating to that topic and investigate the institutions where the authors of the articles work. Then request more information from that institution or contact the author directly.

Performing your due diligence during the graduate school research process may help you make better informed decisions about the school you would like to attend. Thorough research takes time but identifying useful resources and asking the right questions may provide you with enough information to make an informed decision about your investment. 

So jump in and start searching our site to browse information on programs/schools/disciplines and request the first bit of information you need to begin your graduate school search process.


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