Whether you are in the final year of your undergraduate study, or considering a career change, you might be looking for a graduate program. There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a graduate program, and it can be a daunting task if you are unclear about your requirements.

It is going to be a huge investment of time, money as well as energy; you want to be sure that your chosen program is ideal for you. It is very important to know the real facts to find the best graduate program for you.

Here is a checklist you need to consider when looking for a graduate program

1. What is important to you?

Find out which graduate program suits you the most, if you want to give high priority to administration, student development, student counseling, community college or public policy. Whatever your focus, be sure your graduate program offers everything you want. Graduate programs can vary widely by institution. Even if some programs have a similar name, the course of study might have a completely different curriculum. Focus on career goals and choose a program that will help to shape your future.

2. Consider each institution individually

If you are considering a specific graduate school, find out what types of programs and degrees are available. Many schools offer dual degree opportunities, but some don't. If that particular school does not offer the degree you want to study, there is no need to waste time researching that school.

3. Consider the cost

It is very difficult to get financial help for a master's degree or PhD. However, there are some graduate programs that offer financial assistance that will definitely help your cause, find out if your school offers any such assistance. Tuition cost or course fees are not the only factors worth considering. You also need to estimate how much you are going to spend on books and other supplies. The more financial help you receive in scholarships or grants, the less money you have to spend.

4. Go accredited

You need to choose a graduate program that is accredited. Find out if the school or program is accredited or not. Even though accreditation does not guarantee quality of education, it will help you in the future as most employers give little importance to unaccredited institutions.

5. Research faculty

Your graduate program will be as good as the faculty members who teach there. This should be one of the important criteria in your graduate program search. You need to check the reputation of professors or other faculty members before enrolling in a graduate program. You should listen to feedback from other students who are already working with those faculty members. Additionally, a friendly and helpful administration is very important.

Consider these criteria before selecting a graduate program. Other important factors you need to consider are school reputation, admission requirements, job placement, and attrition rate. Spending two or more years in intensive study can be exciting and rewarding. Take the time to do your research and make the best decision you can.

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