Step 4: Choose the Best Program for You

Step 1: Decide if Graduate School Is Right for You
Step 2: Identify and Research Graduate or Professional Programs
Step 3: Take Admissions Tests and Complete Applications
Step 5: Find Ways to Fund Your Future Education

Step 4: Choose the Best Program for You

After you’ve negotiated the application process and received all your acceptances, it’s time to decide on which program is the best fit for you. Before you applied, you should have narrowed your choices to only those schools you would be willing to attend, so now your analysis should get a bit more specific. Consider the following criteria in making your decision.

Program Features

  • How flexible is the program? Are there opportunities to take elective courses?
  • Can you minor in an area of key importance to you?
  • Does the program offer opportunities for practical experience?


  • What is the student-faculty ratio?
  • What is the background/reputation of the faculty who teach in the program?
  • Are there faculty members with research areas similar to your interests?
  • Is the faculty diverse both socially and academically?
  • How accessible and available are the faculty to students?


  • Will you have a good sized cohort?
  • Is the student body diverse socially, geographically, economically?
  • Is the retention rate good? Do most students who begin the program finish completely?
  • Are there organizations for students and opportunities to socialize outside of class?


  • How comprehensive are the labs and other learning facilities?
  • How current, diverse, and expansive are library holdings in your program and research area?
  • Are there specialized research facilities available for graduate student use?


  • What types of positions do graduates of the program secure after graduation?
  • Where are these positions typically geographically?
  • What is the placement rate for new graduates within the first year after graduation?
  • How helpful is the program in helping you to secure employment? What services are available?