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Students choose a graduate program in computer science for a variety of reasons, and at different stages of their lives. Some will pursue a graduate degree as they are finishing up their undergraduate degree. Others who may already be in the workforce decide that continuing education and taking a graduate program will help them advance in their career. This means that different students may have different goals and needs in regards to a graduate program. Luckily there are many options to choose from. Here are some thoughts about how to choose the program that fits your needs.

Choosing a graduate program that matches your education goals

Depending on your situation, you may already know exactly what you’d like to focus or specialize in for your graduate program. Other times, you may want to attend a school with a variety of computer science choices. Likewise, you may have decided whether you want to get a master degree or a PHD, which could affect your choice of colleges. However, it is often the case that you may wish to attend a school that offers a PHD program even if you don’t plan on taking that level of a degree. Schools who have PHD programs often have a more robust research department and could have better funding.

Choosing a program that fits your career goals

Another factor in your degree program decision must be whether or not it will fit with your career goals. After all, after spending a large amount of time and money to get your education, you want to make sure that you’ll be able to get a position in your field. Your prospective school will likely have information available on the percentage of students who graduate with their desired degree and the percentage of students who move on to jobs related to their field.

Assessment test results

Part of your application process will be to take an assessment test, such as the GRE. The score you get on this test will be taken into account by the admissions department in your college. It’s important to prepare for the GRE and research the minimum scores needed for admission into your top school choices.

Visiting the school

Just like with college, you really won’t get a good idea of what it is like to attend a school until you actually visit the school. Most schools provide tours of the school, including time to talk with professors or even sit in on a class. You should be able to find time to tour the campus on your own and talk to other students and faculty.

Financial aid and cost

It’s important to find the right school, the one in which you think you will thrive and which will provide you the best education possible. Cost is an important factor in this decision for most students. Typically, the statement is “I’d like to find the best possible opportunity in the best possible environment that meets my budget.” Researching cost can be confusing, so be sure that you ask all the questions you need to ask to determine cost. Cost is tuition, of course, and living expenses. However, the amount of financial aid – grants and scholarships – that are offered can also impact cost. It’s important to look at financial aid as well as tuition to determine the actual cost of attendance.