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O’Brien Center for Career Development

Getting Started - Researching Programs

With so many graduate programs to choose from it’s a challenging process to determine the graduate program that meets your needs. Here are some tips on how to begin the process of successfully applying to graduate school.

Decide What Type of Program You Want to Attend

  • Talk to professors about career options and interests. Many faculty members have expert knowledge about their fields and the types of research at different universities that may be a match for you.
  • Research the types of jobs, job market prospects and salaries that may be available to you after completing your graduate program.
  • Decide if you want to pursue a masters degree or doctoral program.
  • Evaluate how much time and money the programs will consume.

Research Specific Programs – What are your criteria for a graduate program?

  • Research schools on the internet. How large is the program?   What are the faculty involved in, what type of career assistance is provided?  Review accreditation, ranking and reputation of program. Below are a few sites to get you started:
  • Contact schools of interest and obtain application materials & financial aid and assistantship information.
  • Contact the graduate department to obtain job placement information and the names of current students to contact.
  • Set up a meeting with the department chair to discuss your interest in the program in more detail.
  • Make note of application deadlines.

Positioning Yourself for Graduate School

  • Get to know faculty members well as they are your best resource for graduate school information and they need to know you well in order to write a strong letter of recommendation.
  • Conduct research, write papers, make presentations and develop a portfolio, depending on your field. Graduate programs want to see a commitment to your interests.
  • Watch your debt as you will likely need some loans to finance graduate school, depending on the program you choose.