Considering Graduate School: Finding & Evaluating Programs


Explore Programs
Start at MSU: Share your interest with career advisors, academic advisors, and faculty members in your areas of interest – these folks often have a broad knowledge of graduate school programs.

Expand your search: Explore programs using online graduate school guides, researching international associations in your field, and by connecting with MSU alums and other professionals who have careers in your desired grad school field

Evaluate Programs
As you review program websites, organize key features on a spreadsheet. The list on the side bar is a good place to start. You’ll also want to make note of program director contact information so that you can easily reach out.

Engage Online
Reach out to program directors to share your interest and ask about visit days and/or webinars for prospective students, as well as other questions you can’t find on their website.

Beyond getting answers to your questions, this can help you get a sense of what folks who work for the program are like, as well as getting them familiar with your name and interest in the program.

Connect In Person
Graduate school can last for 1-8 years – visiting helps you evaluate your fit with the program, demonstrates your interest to faculty, and may increase your chances of obtaining financial support.

During your campus visit you can sit in on classes, talk with current students, connect with faculty about their research, interview for assistantships and other funding opportunities, and gain a clearer sense of whether the program is the right fit.


  • Cost and financial aid
  • Application deadlines – some programs may have multiple deadlines
  • Availability of assistantships and funded work
  • Faculty-student ratio
  • Location and cost of living
  • Career outcomes of graduates and alumni connections
  • Course requirements (class topics, thesis, comprehensive exams, credit hours, etc)
  • Research opportunities
  • Experience opportunities (practicums, study abroad programs, field work, etc)
  • Job market in your desired field
  • Application requirements
  • Support mechanisms for students

*Duplicate information available in attached resource

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