Evaluating Graduate School Programs

j0289512.jpgChoosing a graduate school is not unlike the process you went through in choosing your undergraduate school. There is no rating guide that will give you an undisputed list of the best schools in every field. Which graduate school is the best for you depends upon your needs, your goals, and your aspirations. What do exist, however, are valuable tools to help you discover which graduate schools offer programs in your field and to analyze the programs they offer. The choice of a graduate school requires three things: personal evaluation, careful research and planning, and thoughtful decision-making.

If, after much thought and soul-searching, you decide that graduate school is for you, the next step is to begin your research to decide what kind of program you and want and where. An excellent starting point is the Directory of Graduate Programs published by Educational Testing Service (ETS). This manual will give you program details such as the number of full-time faculty, the required admission tests, the number of students receiving fellowships, and teaching and research assistantships available. There are four volumes in this series:

  • Volume A – Biological and Health Sciences and Home Economics
  • Volume B – Arts and Humanities
  • Volume C – Physical Science, Mathematics, and Engineering
  • Volume D – Social Sciences and Education

Many other resources are available in the Bryan College Library or local public library. Among them are:

  • Directory of Graduate Preparation Programs in College Student Personnel
  • Directory of Graduate Programs (4 volumes)
  • Graduate School and You: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students
  • Graduate School Guide
  • Graduate Study in Psychology and Related Fields
  • Guide to Graduate Education in Urban and Regional Planning
  • How to Write a Winning Personal Statement for Graduate and Professional School
  • Peterson’s Graduate Education Directory
  • Peterson’s Graduate Programs in Business, Education, Health and Law
  • Peterson’s Grants for Graduate Students
  • Peterson’s Register of Higher Education
  • The Gourman Report: A Rating of Graduate and Professional Programs in American and International Universities
  • The Official Guide to MBA Programs, Admissions, and Careers
  • The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools Pre-Law Handbook
  • The Official LSAT Prep Test
  • Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Professional School Application
  • While there are other general directories on areas of study available in the Career Services and most public libraries, the most specific information on a particular program is in the school’s catalog. Use general reference materials like the Peterson’s Guides to find out the following general information:
  • Size, nature, and location of the institution
  • Admission requirements and deadlines
  • Cost and availability of financial aid
  • Program details such as size of faculty, numbers of graduate students, numbers of degrees awarded, availability of facilities requisite to your field for research
  • Nature of the student body and the surrounding community