You want to go grad school, but you don't know what to go for?
You want to go back to school and get your Master’s Degree, but you have a conundrum: What grad program should you choose? How can you narrow down the list and choose the program that is right for you? A college may say it offers a Master’s Degree in your field, but it may not offer a program for your field. If you want a degree in Counseling Psychology, for instance, you need to make sure that the school you’re thinking of choosing is not only offering Clinical Psychology.
Choosing the right program can be a difficult job, but it will be easier if you ask these six questions before making your choice.
1. Does it meet the requirements?
Before you even consider a school, it’s important to check if the grad program you’re looking at actually fulfills the requirements for your desired profession. If it doesn’t, you’ll know to look elsewhere.
In order to find out, you can check with a variety of sources: aspiring teachers can check with their desired school for information, while you may also check with employers in your desired field, with the state, or with the licensing board for your field.
2. Will it prepare you?
The second question to ask is how well the school will prepare you for the job in your desired field. Just because you get the degree and higher education you need does not mean that a grad school program will properly prepare you for a job.
Learn everything you can about the content of the program ahead of time. Read over course descriptions, talk to students or alumni and the faculty of the school. Get a feeling for what the school is offering for preparation. You can even ask employers who have hired graduates of the program how well the program prepared them.
3. Is it worth the cost?
As with many things, cost is a major concern. Graduate school is an expensive undertaking. Refusing to weigh the costs and rewards can easily remove the benefit of earning a Master’s Degree.
A school may offer a more affordable Master’s program, but it may lack a good reputation. Another school may be very close to your home, but it may cost significantly more to go through its program than one further away. Consider carefully the balance of costs and rewards before choosing your school.
4. Is the location right for you?
Another area to consider when choosing a grad school program is the location of the school. If you choose to live on campus or attend classes in-person, consider whether or not you will need to move or commute to the college. Travel costs can be expensive and should be considered when deciding on what college to go to for graduate school.
Additionally, if you’re deciding between online or in-person classes, ask yourself what style of learning would best for you. Online programs may be convenient, but they are not for everyone. Consider contacting a university to find out what their online classes are like.
5. Is this a quality program?
Perhaps the most important question that you can ask as an aspiring grad student is whether the school’s graduate studies program is a quality program. Do your research and find out if the school has a good reputation, positive student testimonies, an appropriate graduation rate, and a high career success rate. If the school is lacking in these areas, it may not be the best school for your pursuit of your Master’s degree.
6. How long will it take?
The last question to ask is about the duration of the program. Most graduate schools will take two or three years, but you should check ahead of time to find out and plan appropriately. Make the most of your time.
You should also find out what the school’s policy is for delayed completion. If an emergency forced you to halt your studies temporarily, for example, what steps would the school want you to take in order to resume your studies from where you left off? Does the school allow for this in the first place? Figure these questions out as soon as you can so that you will not be caught off guard.
In the end, choosing a grad program is a tricky process, but using these questions to evaluate can help make the process less painful.