How to Find a ‘Total Package’ Science Program

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, February 03, 2014
Graduate college in the sciences used to be all about improving your knowledge base. Knowledge was difficult to come by, and you needed a graduate program in order to have easy access to the right materials. Now, you can find all the knowledge you need on the Internet. Sure, you’d have to dig around a bit.
However, anything you want to know is available and any question you might have can be answered by posting in a forum. Nevertheless, graduate science programs are more popular and more important for your career in the sciences than ever before. Why? Is it just about adding more letters to the end of your name? While adding to your list of credentials is a factor, the main draw to graduate science programs is not knowledge itself but the students and faculty as well as the facilities that the school offers. In short, today’s graduate science programs are about the community in which you will learn and work.

Because of this, the best science program for you is the one that is the best match to your skills, personality, and goals. Most graduate science programs are going to offer a similar curriculum because that’s the universal knowledge base that students need. It’s important, but it’s not going to help you find the right school. When choosing your graduate science program, take the time to really get to know the program.
Does the school have the facilities that you will need in order to complete your master’s or doctoral project? Does the school have ties to the private sector and their facilities? What about the faculty? Are they excited about teaching, or is teaching just an unwanted by-product of being at a research university? Moreover, what about the other students? Can the school attract top students from around the country and across the globe? Does the school encourage students to work across disciplines, or are the departments territorial with their students and facilities?

Many of the names that you know well are excellent choices for your graduate science program. However, depending on your specific field, there are also great state and regional schools. Therefore, it might be worth your while to look beyond the familiar to find your match. Another factor to consider is whether the school offers terminal master’s degrees or mostly PhD degrees. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) offers a broad range of graduate science degrees, including terminal master’s degrees for career-oriented scientists. There is much more to a graduate program than lectures and tests. Although it can seem like a chore to research the broad range of graduate science programs out there, taking the time to do so will reward you with a program that is a perfect fit. 
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