There are many different questions to consider before starting your graduate/professional school search.
It is important to know yourself and your goals as you begin considering whether or not graduate school is right for you and which program will best suit your goals.
Start your search:
While there are many general search tools you can use to find different graduate/professional schools or programs, focusing your initial efforts on a targeted search is usually the best starting point.
If you reach the point where you simply don’t know where to find the graduate or professional program you are looking for, there are some good resources you can use to assist in your search.
General Resources and Tips to use When Searching for a Graduate/Professional School
- GradSchools.com is a large database of different graduate schools you can search to start your list of potential graduate schools.
- Peterson’s has resources for graduate school searches and preparation materials.
- The Princeton Review is a great help in searching for schools and preparing graduate and professional school application materials.
- The U.S. News and World Report has a list of top-ranked graduate programs and information about applying for graduate schools.
- eCIS (Career Information System) offers advice, tips, and research resources for graduate school searches.
- In addition to websites, it is important to be aware of other resources available for graduate/professional school searches in your field. Some fields have published directories with lots of information on each program available in that specific field of study. Do some research and networking to see if there is a directory in your field.
- Some graduate/professional schools will recruit at job fairs, so check to see if the schools on your list will be attending a career fair near you or an online virtual career fair you can attend from anywhere.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself as you Start Your Graduate/Professional School Search
1. What is my purpose in attending graduate/professional school?
- You should have a clear reason for attending graduate or professional school that fits your goals.
- Going to graduate school as a “back-up plan” or because of unemployment are only good reasons if you discover that having a graduate degree will make you more relevant in your field and fits with your career goals.
- For more information about questions you may have about graduate school, visit the University of Idaho College of Graduate Studies.
2. Do the people in my relevant network of contacts (e.g., professors, family, professionals in your field) think that graduate/professional school will be beneficial for me?
- Use the network of contacts you have established to help research and determine whether this is the best direction for you and your career path.
3. Is attending graduate/professional school the right decision for me at this time?
- It is important to set your priorities and understand what you will be gaining and what you may be giving up in order to attend graduate or professional school. Knowing your goals, values, and alternatives, and taking them into consideration as you make your decision, will give you the clarity and understanding to make an informed, correct, and lasting choice.
4. Which area of study interests me (is that program the most beneficial for my career plans)?
- Your decision on your field of study should be grounded in making yourself the best possible candidate for the career you are pursuing.
5. Which school and program are going to be the best match for me and help me reach my goals?
- There are many logistical considerations (e.g., location, cost, housing, funding) and academic considerations (e.g., environment, faculty, research interests) that will help narrow your search.
- One important extra question to ask at this stage is: What kind of funding do I need and are there graduate teaching and/or research assistantships available at the schools where I am applying?
Tips and Tricks for a Targeted Graduate/Professional School Search
- Be aware of your own preferences and limitations. Issues such as location, size of school, type of program (i.e., research vs. applied), cost, funding opportunities, admission requirements, available faculty, and research/teaching/internship opportunities will help you narrow your search to a more manageable level.
- Once you have narrowed your search, begin identifying the schools that fit your criteria and prioritize this list by the programs you are most interested in or seem to fit you the best.
- Research the schools, programs, and faculty on your list to find out more about each school.
- Develop a pro’s and con’s list for each school in order to compare them.
- Contact the top schools on your list to ask additional questions. Get in touch with faculty members you may be interested in working under as a graduate student.
- Find out what types of assistantships (i.e., research, teaching, graduate) are available at each school and how much funding you can expect.
- Be certain to find out what the deadlines are for application at each school.
- Narrow your list to just the schools where you want to apply (remember that each school will most likely have an application fee), and begin to create targeted application material for each school.