When you apply to graduate school, you typically apply to a very specific program. All of your classes are connected to that program, with no opportunity to enter with an "Undeclared" major and explore until you find the right program for you, like you may have had in your undergraduate institution. When exploring programs and institutions, reflect on what is important to you – a school with prestige? A variety of financial aid options? Institutional values? Class size? Practical experience? An advisor in the University Career Center can assist you with this process and reflection.

Questions to Consider When Deciding on Schools or Programs to Apply to
  • Does the program match my specific interests or reasons for going to graduate school?
  • How small or large is the program?
  • What types of research or professional interests do the faculty have?
  • Do current students like the program?
  • How long is the program?
  • How much does the program cost?
  • Are there scholarships available?
  • Are there graduate assistantships or other work-based experiences available?
  • What is required for this particular application?
  • What types of careers do graduates of this program usually seek out?
  • Where is the school located? Is that where I want to live?
  • What is the surrounding city or town like?
  • Where would I live?
How Would I Go About Finding the Answers to Some of These Questions?
  • Get in touch with an Admissions representative of the program
  • Ask to be connected with faculty who teach in the program and current or former students of the program
    • Someone in Admissions will likely be able to assist you in making these connections
  • Ask a JMU alumnus who completed this program or attended this school 
    • Look at the ‘Finding Someone’ section of the Ask an Expert page of our site for advice on how to find an alum to ask about their experience
  • Ask about the school, the city, and housing options
  • Ask about financial aid options and any type of assistance that the program can provide
  • Ask for any available outcomes data to see where alumni have ended up 
Resources for Learning About Different Graduate Programs Nationwide

It is important to remember that, with any search engine, paid advertisements or programs that have paid to be listed will be featured first. The programs are not necessarily listed in order of ranking or by any specific quality unless you choose to strategically filter results. 

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