Evaluating Doctoral Programs: Which One is Right for You?
Start early and research each possible school carefully. Consider the following questions:
1. At what schools does your desired program exist?
- Peterson’s.com: Use this website to search for graduate programs in your field of study and desired location. Come to the Career Development Center for the hard copy version of this directory (Peterson’s Annual Guides to Graduate Study).
- California State University, Fresno: Review this website to see if your desired graduate program exists at Fresno State:
- Continue the Journey: This is a free booklet published by the Office of the President of the University of California. It contains information about admission requirements, opportunities for financial support, summer research programs, and graduate degree programs at each UC campus. While this booklet targets women and underrepresented minorities, it is useful to all students considering graduate study at the UC. For a PDF version, click here.
- EUREKA Online: This website is free for Fresno State students. It includes self assessment tools, college and university information (including graduate school programs), and financial aid information. Fresno State students can contact the Career Development Center for the Eureka Site ID code.
- Gradschools.com: This site provides graduate school information for over 58,000 programs. It is a comprehensive directory categorized by curriculum and subdivided by geography.
2. What are the school’s requirements for admissions? (Some schools require work experience prior to graduate school.)
- CollegeSource® Online: This site compiled over 10,700 college catalogs in complete, cover to cover format; including 2-year, 4-year, graduate and professional school programs. Sign up on the site for a free trial usage.
- University 101: University 101 has compiled website information for over 4,000 colleges and universities. This website will usually take you to the school’s homepage after which you can find information on admissions, course requirements, etc.
- Google Search: If you cannot find your program of interest in the above two ways, Google search the school, and find the homepage. Look for a tab that says “Academics” or “Programs” and you should be able to find your program. If not, find the general “Graduate Studies” department and call someone for assistance.
3. Is there a state residency requirement?
4. Does the school prefer degrees in specific subjects or are there course prerequisites?
5. What is the size of the faculty in your desired department? What is their reputation?
6. Who would be your supervisor?
7. Are the required classes readily available?
8. Are opportunities for field work and/or research made available?
9. What type of financial aid is available to Graduate students?
10. What types of facilities are available to students (i.e. library, laboratories, computer/technology laboratories).
11. Where have recent graduates been employed?
12. How does the graduate program rank nationally?
- Rank Grad Schools Based on Your Personal Criteria
- U.S. News & World Report Rankings
Remember it is also important to:
- Visit the campus
- Review the graduate catalogue
- Talk to current students
- Talk with an admissions representative