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Choosing a Graduate Program

Most graduate programs are uniquely specialized. It is important to focus your attention on just a few schools, rather than applying to every program under the sun that interests you. Applying for graduate school can be costly, time consuming and require planning ahead. 

When choosing a graduate program, you should:

  1. Create a targeted list of schools where you wish to apply and where you believe you will be admitted. While it is great to have a dream school that might be a long shot, you should also pick some “safety” schools where you are fairly certain you will be admitted.
  2. Consider program faculty. The academic experience is the most important piece, and it will impact your ultimate goals. Quality of faculty and the number of whom do research in your area of interest might be the deciding factor when selecting the best program for you.
  3. Do research! Talk to faculty AND students of that program. You should be able to get in contact with current students (or past ones) via the program director. Conduct an informational interview about why they chose that program, would they choose it again, and what they feel they gained from the experience. They are the experts.
  4. Make sure the campus meets your needs. Is their focus on their undergraduate or graduate population? Is that what you are looking for? Do they have enough labs, libraries, assistantships, and/or fellowships? What does housing, transportation, and the community look like? 

Applying to Graduate School

The application process for graduate schools varies depending on the programs you choose. Use these tips as a starting point to help you prepare for applying to graduate schools.

  1. Start your process by researching schools that interest you. Some resources that might help you narrow down your list are the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, GradSchools.com, Peterson’s and Accredited Schools Online.
  2. After deciding on schools, research their application process online. Each application has slight variations, but most require an official transcript, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a copy of your resume, and a score from a required admissions exam
  3. Once you have made a list of each school’s requirements and gathered the documents you need to apply, you can begin filling out the applications.

If you still have questions or would like additional assistance, schedule an appointment with an APSU Career Advisor. Documents, including resumes and personal statements, may be submitted to careerservices@apsu.edu for review. Documents will be returned with suggestions for improvement within 3 - 5 business days.

Visit the APSU College of Graduate Studies for detailed information about APSU's graduate programs, admissions process, and assistantship guidelines.