Graduate School Frequently Asked Questions
There are a number of organizations that rank programs (see Helpful Links), but you might find it more useful to talk with faculty members in your field. Chances are good that they will be able to point you in the direction of several schools that could be a match for you. Additionally, faculty members can point you in the direction of professional societies in your field. These organizations often have lots of resources for undergraduates interested in advanced studies. Look around on online. Try to find departments where several professors are doing work that interests you.
As you begin collecting information on possible programs, you will want to consider:
- Who teaches in the department? What are the research interests of professors there?
- What type of funding is available? Is it guaranteed for the duration of your study or granted on an annual basis?
- Does the program provide placement assistance after graduation?
- Are the professors receptive to conversations about your interests and/or their work (it is a good idea to email professors you might want to work with)?
- How long will it take to finish the program?
- Is funding provided to everyone? If not, how is it granted?
- What are your research interests?
- Would they be willing to advise you?
- What is the general outline of the program? How many courses do students take? Is there a thesis portion?
- How many students are typically in every classroom?
- How would they describe the relationships between graduate students and between graduate students and faculty?
You should take the GRE at least one year before you plan to begin graduate school (for example, you should take the GRE in the fall of 2011 if you want to begin graduate school in the fall of 2012). That said, taking the GRE sooner gives you more flexibility to retake the exam if you are unsatisfied with your score. Some graduate programs provide GRE deadlines; thus, you should be familiar with the requirements of each of your prospective schools.