Researching US Graduate Schools and Programmes

If you are planning to embark upon graduate study in the US, you may be intent upon applying one or two specific schools, or you may need to research the options available to you.

Need General Info About Study in the US?

If you are in the UK and are looking for help and advice about going to study in the US, visit the Fulbright Commission’s Educational Advisory Service to learn more.

Searching for US Grad School Programmes

The key to evaluating your chances of gaining admission to a particular programme is knowing the various factors that programmes consider when making admissions decisions – and using them to figure out where you stand.

These factors can include GRE scores (or projected scores), undergraduate grades, relevant outside activities, work experience, internships, and publications.

The next step is finding up-to-date information about US graduate programmes. Several guides are published each year that includes school rankings, average GRE scores, and info on acceptance rates.

Evaluating Programmes

For each school to which you want to apply, you might have to choose from several different programmes – which may leave you with hundreds of options. If you were to imagine your ideal graduate course, what factors make it so attractive? Do you need a flexible programme? How large a workload can you take on? In what sort of environment do you learn best?

Some factors to consider are:

  • Location and Campus
  • Student Culture
  • School Rankings
  • Average Starting Salary for Grads
  • Salaries at the 5-Year Mark
  • Job Placement Rate
  • Class Size, Profile and GRE Scores
  • Fees and Costs
  • Specialised vs. General Curriculum

Consider the Following...

There are many factors you can use to compare programmes. Among the aspects to consider, you can think about on the following:

School Reputation

Which schools in your field of study have the best reputations? Is a prestigious school the best choice for you?

Workload

There can be big variations among programmes. What is expected in the ones you are considering? Will you be able to keep up given any other commitments you might have?

Campus Location and Size

Do you want to live in a large city or in a rural area — or somewhere in between? Do you thrive in a large student population or are you looking for something smaller?

Costs and Fees

Should you apply to public universities or private ones? What are the living costs like? What financial aid is available

Academic Placement

This is important if you want to go into academia. Find out if recent graduates from the program have accepted academic positions, how long their searches took, and where they're now working. Are they getting one-year contracts or tenure-track positions? Are they working at prestigious schools or are they taking any placements?

Job Placement

What sort of careers service is there? Do prospective employers visit the campus to recruit? In major industries, companies will often visit campuses to interview prospective science grads.