Since there are over 1000 institutions that offer graduate degrees, locating the program that is right for you will take time and research.
This means having a clear idea about what you ideally want in a program. Take into account such factors as: the scope of the programs offered in your field of interest at the institution, enrollment and size of the institution, and its geographic location.
Begin to take these steps as soon as you have defined your likely areas of interest. Have this information by late spring, junior year – certainly no later than the summer before your senior year.
Phase 1: Developing A List Of Possible Programs
Here are suggestions to help you develop a tentative list of graduate programs. Don’t skip any steps! These are all useful sources of information and can add to to your information base.
Step One: Use guides to graduate school such as Peterson’s and internet sites to generate a list of appropriate programs by subject and/or geography.
Step Two: Once you’ve defined your area(s) of interest, talk to people and ask for their recommendations.
- Drew department chairs and professors connected with these fields can:
- provide you with the benefit of their knowledge and first hand experience
- give advice about programs that meet your interests.
- refer you to colleagues at these institutions
- recommend people with whom you should study
- tell you how you measure up to former students who have been accepted or rejected by these programs.
- be the best source of information on graduate programs!
- NOTE: Make appointments to meet with as many faculty members as possible in your related field.
- Recent graduates who are attending programs in your field of interest can provide you with insights about the realities of these programs.
- Drew alums and other professionals who are currently working in the field are aware of the reputations of these programs. Alumni Affairs will provide you with a list to get you started.
Step Three: Know what is happening in your field and where.
- Speak with the reference librarian and learn about the current journal holdings in the library.
- Read primary journals/professional literature to learn who is doing the research and what universities are supporting it.
- Note the names of institutions on editorial boards.
- Scan tables of contents and editorial pages for studies that sound appealing. Who are involved? Where are they located?
- Write to authors requesting reprints of their work and expressing an interest in their graduate programs.
Remember: It is a committee of faculty members, not the admissions office that determines your acceptance into a graduate program.
Step Four: Make an appointment with a Career Center counselor:
- to help you clarify your career goals.
- to learn about the resources in the career center.
- to get referrals to the appropriate resource people on campus who can give you additional guidance, advice, and information about the graduate school application process.
NOTE: Graduate School advisement is a collaborative process at Drew. Use all of the resources available to you.
Step Five: Use graduate student and minority graduate student locater services.
The Graduate Record Examinations Board has developed these two services to assist graduate schools in recruiting candidates and to help students locate programs to meet their needs. At no cost, you can register and possibly learn about programs you might not have considered. For more information, pick up a copy of the GRE Information Bulletin in the Career Center.
Step Six: Request applications and catalogs. Many universities may have both catalog information and applications on their websites.
Read all of the information carefully. Requirements will vary from institution to institution and from program to program.
- Note pre-requisites for admission. Estimate your chances of getting in based on their selectivity and your qualifications.
- Read with an investigative frame of mind.
- Highlight key features.
- Write down questions.
- Jot down deadlines on outside cover of catalog or on the mailing envelope.
- Come up with a system of ranking the programs as you review them.
- Maintain some kind of file as you gather these materials. A plastic crate or cardboard portable file box would do just fine.
Step Seven: Register to Take the Appropriate Graduate Admissions Tests.
By now, you will be aware of the standardized tests you’ll be required to take. It is advisable to take these no later than October of your senior year.