Frequently, prospective graduate school applicants have to choose from dozens of graduate school programs. As a result, it may be difficult to narrow your choices to your top 15, 10, 5, or however many applications you can afford, time- and energy-wise. So, I’ve created a list of categories I used to narrow my graduate school choices below:
- Location: state/province, city
- I didn’t want to live in a small city or cities that were mostly for students.
- Fitness studios
- Some of my hobbies require having a studio to practice in, so if the city a program was located in didn’t have an available studio, I cut it from my list.
- Temperature highs and lows
- Although I live in one of the coldest cities in Canada, I don’t like being cold! So I had a cut off of certain average yearly temperatures.
- Cost of living
- I based this number off average costs of rent. You may also choose to include the cost of groceries, etc. I had a certain cut-off cost, which greatly reduced the number of programs I could realistically apply to.
- Tuition cost
- Some programs don’t guarantee funding, so this point was important to me.
- I made notes on whether the program offered department scholarships, graduate scholarships, teaching assistantships or research assistantships, or anything else in the way of funding.
- Thesis or project or coursework
- Here I made notes on what kind of stream the program offered. I wanted to do a thesis or project, so any program that just offered coursework was cut.
- Length of the program
- My priority was attending a 1-year master’s program, but I was still open to other options.
- I made notes on whether the program offered anything unique or valuable to my student life or future career, like professional development workshops, department colloquiums, creative writing classes, internships, etc.
- Courses offered
- I looked at previous courses the program had offered. I made a note on whether they sounded unique and/or were to my interest or if they were just general courses without anything necessarily special about them.
- Deadline to apply
- While this point didn’t sway my decision to apply, it was helpful to set my expectations for when my applications were due.
- Average applications and offers per year
- If a program provided this information, I wrote it down to have an idea of how competitive the program was.
- University ranking
- This point wasn’t as significant to me, but I thought it would be useful to know anyway.
Please let me know in the comments if there are other criteria you used when choosing where you applied to!