What to Look for in a Graduate Program

When determining the factors to look for in graduate programs, determine if the program aligns with your career goals and interests. Check if the program has a strong academic reputation and offers research opportunities. Consider the availability of financial aid, a thriving campus environment, and successful outcomes for alumni.

By carefully considering these factors from Academic Influence, you can choose a graduate program that will provide the resources and support you need to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Connection to Your Career Goals

Have a clear understanding of your career goals. This will help you choose a program that aligns with your interests, skills, and future job prospects.

  • Take a skills assessment test or seek feedback from colleagues or mentors to better understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Research job market trends to identify the types of programs and skills most valuable in your future career.

Program’s Academic Excellence

What is the faculty’s research focus? Pick programs with faculty members who are leaders in their field and have a strong research and publication track record.

How is the curriculum structured? For example, Oregon State University-Cascades Campus offers an MFA in Creative Writing. Select programs with a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum that covers all the important topics in your field.

Research Opportunities

It is recommend that you look for research opportunities when choosing graduate programs. Choose programs that offer hands-on research experience and opportunities to publish and present your research.

Financial Resources

Pursuing an advanced degree can be expensive, so it’s crucial to understand the financial commitment you’ll be making.

  • Research the costs of each program, including books, supplies, and other expenses. Do you need to find a rental in Bend, or does the university offer in-campus accommodation?
  • Apply for scholarships and grants specific to your field of study. Check with professional organizations and foundations for additional funding.

Campus Culture

A study shows that a university’s culture significantly influences students’ overall academic performance.

  • Consider the social scene on campus and the availability of extracurricular activities.
  • Evaluate whether the campus welcomes students from different backgrounds and whether there is a strong sense of community among diverse groups of students.

Alumni Success

Know if graduates are finding jobs in their field and if they’re achieving success in their careers.

  • How many graduates are employed in their field within six months of graduation?
  • What types of jobs are they getting?

Related Questions

What Qualities Do You Value in Graduate Programs?

When evaluating graduate programs, make sure to value the institution’s reputation and the program, the accessibility of faculty members, the quality of research facilities, and the career paths of the program’s graduates. Choose a program that aligns with your research interests and goals.

How Can I Determine if a Graduate Program Is a Good Fit for Me?

To determine if a graduate program is a good fit for you, start by researching the program’s curriculum, faculty, and research opportunities. Attend information sessions and open houses or speak with current students and alumni.

What Resources Are Available to Help Me Evaluate Graduate Programs?

Many resources are available to evaluate graduate programs, and you can start by researching programs online and reading reviews from current students and alumni. Speak with professors and attend graduate school fairs.


When choosing a graduate program, consider the school’s reputation, program curriculum, career services, cost, and fit for your goals. Finding the right program takes time and research to ensure it provides the education, training, and network to launch your career.