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Evaluating and Comparing Graduate Degree Programs

By Peterson's Staff updated on Friday, November 22, 2013

Choosing the Right Graduate Degree Program

Now that you have decided to pursue a graduate school degree, it is time to determine which program is right for you.

Some important criteria to consider when exploring graduate degree programs include financial aid, internship, research, and career placement opportunities, as well as faculty members' expertise and dedication.

Financial Aid Programs for Your Graduate Degree

Many colleges and universities offer a mix of federal and institutional financial aid to support students pursuing graduate degrees. This mix includes grants, scholarships, fellowships, loans, and teaching and research assistantships. You might be eligible for a combination of these sources, which are made on the basis of need, merit, or both.

Aside from federal financial assistance, a college's ability to provide substantial financial aid packages for students pursuing graduate degrees will depend on its own wealth and the donations it receives from private sources.

The amount of financial aid you receive will depend on your financial circumstances and academic abilities, as well as competition from other graduate degree students. Applying for scholarships and fellowships through various organizations will expand your funding opportunities. 

Faculty-Student Relationships

You want to choose a graduate degree program that has well-known faculty who are experts in their fields and are committed to your academic and professional success.

Professors who mentor students provide opportunities for them to work on research projects and connect them to networks that can lead to future internship and full-time employment opportunities. This type of faculty-student relationship increases the value of graduate degree programs.

Research Opportunities

A school's ability to provide first-rate training in research is crucial to your educational experience — particularly if you are planning to pursue a career in academia or policy making.

Therefore, your graduate degree program should include faculty members whose research areas match your scholarly interests, as well as a wide array of quality resources that will support your research endeavors.

Internships

If you are interested in using internships to gain real-world experience, it is important to choose a school that has a well-designed internship program that includes career counseling, internship placement, and listings of internships in a variety of businesses and fields.

Future Career Success

If you are earning a graduate school degree to advance your career, then choosing a graduate school that provides comprehensive career services is crucial.

The school should provide effective career counseling, professional skills development, resume writing advice, and excellent job placement services.

Top-notch career services, along with outstanding academic offerings and resources, will make earning a graduate degree a rewarding and potentially lucrative experience.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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