Develop list of programs. Locating the right program for you will take time and research. Use graduate school guides such as Peterson’s and internet sites to generate list of programs by subject and/or geographic location. Talk to professors, alums, and professionals who are working in the field to gain their insights and recommendations.
Determine which programs to apply to: Consider the following factors in evaluating which graduate programs to apply to:
- Geographic location
- Accreditation of the university
- National standing of the program
- How selective are they? How many candidates apply and how many are accepted?
- Pre-requisites for acceptance into the program
- Cost and opportunities for financial assistance
The narrowing down process. Begin to narrow your search by gathering as much information as possible. Visit the institutions you are considering if at all possible. Make appointments to speak with faculty. Speak to students who are currently enrolled in the program and/or graduates of the program.
Compare your qualifications with admissions requirements. This will rule in and rule out certain programs.
Evaluate your financial situation. Applying to grad schools can get expensive. These are the costs to consider:
- Application fees: $25 - $75 per school
- Standardized test registration fees
- Fees for sending scores to additional schools
- Fees for requesting transcripts
- Cost of test preparation courses
- Purchase of test preparation materials
- Travel expenses to visit campuses
Based on your budget and qualifications, determine the number of schools you can apply to. Consider applying to at least one prestigious or highly competitive school and one large university that offers many programs and accepts a large number of students. Eliminate schools that you know you will never really attend. Don’t waste your time, energy, and money.
Then, rank the schools according to your first, second, third, fourth choice, etc. and according to your probability of being accepted. Make a final list. Begin the formal application process.