When you start thinking about furthering your education, one of the biggest challenges is performing a graduate school search. After all, there are countless choices for programs, areas of the country, and cultures. Do you want to live in a big city and attend a large university? Small town and small university? Do you want to be part of student organizations? Are you looking to escape the snow or do you like the charm of winter?
How you narrow down your search can be daunting. We’ve laid out a simple plan below to get you started on your graduate school search.
Choosing a field of study
The first item to complete is choosing what you’ll study in business school. Many people first think of an MBA (and for good reason), but there are several specialized degrees to consider, too. The options are nearly unlimited! If you’re interested in a career in the business field, check out our handy tool to help assess your skills and passions to find which program might be right for you.
After you select what you want to study, there are resources online to help you narrow down your search. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing an MBA, U.S. News & World Report publishes the rankings of the top MBA programs every year. If the notoriety of the program is important to you, looking at that list (and many similar ones) can be a great starting point.
The next item to consider is where you want to be geographically. While some people will go anywhere, others choose to pinpoint a state or region of the country for various reasons, like being close to family. If geography isn’t initially important to you, consider where you want to end up after graduation. Typically (but not always), students’ first jobs after graduation will be close to where they went to school.
Questions to consider
After you come to some conclusions about the field of study, geography, and program rankings, the next (and arguably most important) step is to dig deeply into various schools and programs. When you’re evaluating schools, think about the following topics:
- How big is the school? – Are you looking for a big state school or a small private school?
- How big is the program? – How many people are admitted to the program each year?
- What is the job placement rate within six months of graduation?
- What are the top hiring companies?
- What’s the average starting salary?
- How much is the tuition? Are scholarships offered?
- Is the school close to appropriate living options?
- Will the school connect you with current students to gain their perspectives?
- What kind of alumni and faculty feedback can you find online about the program?
This is just a starting list. Depending on your program, there will undoubtedly be other questions you’ll want to ask yourself or the admissions staff as you evaluate if the program is right for you.
Your graduate school search will require a large commitment of time, but it's an investment in your future. By spending the right amount of time evaluating and assessing various programs, you’ll find the one that gets you excited for the next step of your career and your academic journey. Finding the program that fits your needs will make the transition to graduate school easier and will set you up for success as you land the job of your dreams.
If you still need help selecting the right program for you, take our short quiz to help you figure it out.