Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

What You Need to Know Before Applying to Graduate School (part 1)

Are you considering entering graduate school within the next two years? Can you name the twelve things you should know about a graduate program before applying?

According to Tara Kuther, Ph.D., a regular contributor on the topic of graduate school planning and preparation for About.com, if you don’t pay attention to these twelve items you may end up frustrated and disappointed.

  1. Program Emphasis – know what kind of training can you expect from each program you are considering; if it isn’t stated explicitly, faculty research interests and the research labs within the department offer important clues as to what you can expect.
  2. Program Philosophy – know the difference between theory-oriented graduate programs and applied research programs.
  3. Curriculum and Coursework – look at the courses that will be part of the program; do they look interesting to you?  Can you see the connection between them and the kind of training you are seeking?
  4. Capstone Requirements – know the dissertation requirements/expectations.
  5. Accreditation – check for both university and program accreditation by relevant governing bodies; discipline-level accreditation is also common in applied fields.
  6. Price – consider whether or not you are able to carry the expense of this investment.
  7. Sources of Financial Aid – research the types of aid available, including funding for research and teaching assistantships.
  8. Faculty – consider the work and research of more than one faculty member when making your choice of graduate school.
  9. Facilities – take a look at the labs and equipment; ask yourself if the program and university’s resources can help you achieve the goals you have for your research/study.
  10. Ranking – compare/contrast the universities you are considering; ranking is one way to do that.
  11. Selectivity – consider your chances of being accepted, especially if the university is highly selective.
  12. Location – know what is offered beyond the university in the location where you will be living for a few years.

You really should follow Dr. Kuther’s advice on About.com.  Her point, and mine too for that matter, is that while you want to choose a graduate school with the best academic program leading to the most promising career options, you also want to consider a location where you will be content and happy.  Next week’s blog will cover what Dr. Kuther has to say on the importance of considering your personal life when choosing the right graduate program.

~Sharon Givler, director, career services

Category: Graduate School