Researching Graduate Programs

Researching Graduate ProgramsBefore you apply to graduate school, it is critical to learn more about programs, their offerings, requirements and the application process. Here are some things to consider.

Assess Potential Programs

Start well in advance to give yourself plenty of time to weigh your options.

  • Visit program websites. This should provide a solid overview of each program.
  • Seek guidance. Speak with Princeton faculty in your area of interest or within your undergraduate major.
  • Use third-party guides. Websites like Peterson’s or can help.

Consider These Factors

There are a number of factors to consider when researching programs and deciding where to apply.

Type of program

  • What degrees are granted?
  • How long does it take to complete the degree?
  • Do you have prerequisite courses to fulfill?
  • Are there internship or thesis requirements?
  • Are there faculty who are willing to sponsor your research interests?

Quality and reputation

  • What is the faculty commitment to research and scholarship?
  • What is the reputation of faculty and alumni?
  • What are the admission standards and how much care is taken when selecting graduate students?
  • Is the program accredited?

Location and size

  • How large is the department?
  • What is the faculty-to-student ratio?
  • What is the typical class size?
  • How near will you be to friends and family?
  • Do you prefer a small university? A more urban setting? Certain types of cultural activities?

Student Satisfaction

Ask to contact current students and get their perspectives on the program, faculty and community.

  • What are their impressions of the faculty’s commitment to mentoring students?
  • What advice do they have about securing financial assistance?
  • Do they have recommendations about housing options?

Cost and financial assistance

Not all doctoral programs are funded equally. Many master’s programs are not funded at all.

  • What are the opportunities for fellowships, assistantships and scholarships?
  • How often does the school’s tuition rise and by how much?
  • How does the cost of living of the area compare with that of other places?