Step 1: Learn about the value of graduate education.
- Is a graduate degree required for your chosen career?
- How is graduate education different from undergraduate study?
- Will a graduate degree improve your marketability?
- What careers are available for people with degrees in your area of study?
- What is the job market like in your field of study?
Step 2: Gather information to help you make your decisions – narrowing the field.
- Should you attend graduate school at this time?
- Who is a trusted faculty member you can consult with?
- What areas of specialization are available within your chosen subject?
- Are there well-known professors with whom you'd like to study?
- What schools offer graduate degrees in your subject?
- Which of these fit your overall needs?
- What alternatives do you have if you're not admitted to any of your chosen schools?
- Which schools should you visit?
Step 3: Figure out how to pay for it!
- How much does graduate study cost at each of your chosen schools?
- Will the school financially support your education?
- Are assistantships, scholarships, or fellowships available? How many students receive them?
- Do assistantships and fellowships include fee remission, insurance, and other benefits?
- What are the duties and expectations of graduate assistants at each school?
- Will your employer help with the bill?
- What is the cost of living in that geographic area?
- What housing options are available on and off campus?
- Are jobs available in the community?
Step 4: Complete and submit application materials.
- What are the deadlines?
- What admission test is required and how do you register for it?
- What supporting materials will you need (e.g., personal statement, recommendation letters, essay)?
- What questions can you expect during the interview?
- Have you kept copies of everything?
Step 5: Choose among the offers for graduate school.
- How do the financial aid packages compare?
- How do the reputations and locations of the programs compare?
- How well do you feel you will fit into each program?
- Which offer most closely fits your needs and interests?
- What will you do if you don't receive any offers?
Step 6: Begin your graduate student adventure.
- Make friends in the program.
- Select a mentor.
- Establish a research agenda.
- Make friends with the support staff in the department.
- Study! Study! Study!
- Quickly become familiar with the library and its Web site.
- Network – take advantage of all lectures and special events, and meet with the speakers.
- Join relevant professional associations as a student member.
- Read newsletters and journal articles of professional associations.
- Attend professional conferences.