Admission Advice

All of the following criteria should be considered when considering a graduate school:
  • Schoolís Reputation
  • Programís Reputation
  • Faculty
  • Location
  • Price Tag
  • Class Representation and Size
  • Available School Hours
  • Length of Program

Schoolís Reputation

The schoolís reputation can be identified in the credentials of the accreditation, emphasis of thought and perception of education. The accreditation process is a complicated process that universities must continuously resubmit and make program changes. The school should have an established reputation of accreditation and leadership in the field of your choice.
Key Point:
  • Credentials
  • Emphasis of thought
  • Perception of education

Programís Reputation

The programís reputation may be different from the reputation of school. The programís reputation in a particular field may carry weight in the job market, however the schoolís reputation would not. Also it is important to note if the programís reputation is known regionally or nationally. A good question to ask is if graduates of the program go on to leadership and well-paying positions in the field. Key Point:
  • Regionally vs. Nationally
  • Programís reputation vs. Schoolís reputation
  • Positions offered following graduation to graduates

Faculty

The faculty should be published and well established at the graduate school within a program of interest. The faculty will influence the daily life of a graduate student unlike the days of the undergraduate program. In graduate school the classes are smaller and the interaction between faculty and students is much closer. The faculty should have current publications, and strong funding on research and reputations. However, potential graduates should avoid the pitfall of becoming stepping-stones for faculty members seeking fame and fortune. The desire of every graduate student should be to find a strong mentor within the program with established connections in the field. The question about choice of a mentor may also enter into the discussion about selecting a graduate program. Key Point:
  • Faculty credentials
  • Current publications
  • Choice of mentor

Location

The location of the school is critical if the student is restricted on travel. A student seeking an MBAís best choice may be an online program if the maximum amount of time at home is required. Travel time should could considered in determining the total time away from home required. You may also need to factor in extended class hours/sessions, because graduate school often requires multiple after school or weekend projects with classmates. Some programs require your presence 40 hours per week, especially professional programs.

Most graduate students work and attend graduate school part-time, therefore prepare to be distant from the family and friends if the program requires attending classes. Internet courses often allow flexible hours, however do not provide hands on instruction or review in many cases. Key point:

  • Location, location, location
  • Travel time
  • Flexible hours/scheduling

Price Tag

The debate really centers on public vs. private graduate schools. Private graduate schools in general are more prestigious than public schools, but are in general are much more expensive. Potential students should be aware that some private graduate programs are not eligible for federal funding; therefore, low interest federal loans may not be available. Calculating the potential savings over the course of repaying the loan it may be cost prohibitive to attend private graduate programs that are not eligible for federal funding. Public schools in general have easily accessible low interest federal dollars for graduate school. Private university education for tuition for one-year average is around 20,000 dollars. Public university education for tuition with in state residentsí average is around 3,500 dollars. If attending a professional program, it is important to remember that whether you attend a public or private school you will still be that professional when you graduate.

Class Representation and Size

A student must consider if they learn best in a small, medium and large learning environment. Most graduate school classes consist of a tight knit group of individuals with similar goals and interest. Remember that small graduate schools may not have the resources for research or academic training compared to larger graduate schools. Always consider the total number of graduate students in a program when making your decision. Also a student should consider if the graduate program is religious, conservative, liberal or politically motivated. Class diversity should be available to a potential student to determine if they are comfortable with the diversity of the school. For example: if a student is seeking a small graduate program with a background of conservative values, numerous graduate programs can be ruled in and out easily when applying for graduate school.

Available School Hours

Some graduate programs offer classes only during limited school hours and offer no flexibility with course scheduling. However, larger graduate schools may offer some course flexibility. If a graduate student is traveling on a part-time or daily basis to campus, consider drive time and time for intermittent delays. In addition, attendance policies may come into play. Graduate school hours are set by the program director, however teachers may require additional flexibility for specialty programs. Moreover, in general many special projects are required for graduate school completion, requiring multiple after hoursí meetings. For example: a masterís thesis may require extensive planning and preparation for presentation far exceeding the standard graduate school hours.

Length of Program

Many programs also have different time requirements for the degree. Some professional programs require less time on internships and class attendance. Moreover, certain schools offer longer breaks between semesters and more holidays.

Last Updated: 05/21/2014