Choosing a Graduate Program

Posted by Christiaan on November 26, 2013

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Once you’ve decided graduate school is right for you, the next task is deciding which school and program will meet your needs.

What program should I choose? How do I know it’s the right program?

What are your areas of interest? What are you really passionate about learning about and producing more knowledge on? Maybe you are thinking about pursuing a graduate program in a discipline you don’t have an undergraduate degree in. This is completely fine – it’s where you want your research to go that is important. Maybe you’re working on a research proposal for a course and want to pursue further research at the graduate level in it. Use it to your advantage when applying to grad school. It will help you with choosing an exact program. Also look at the course courses and electives that are offered in the program. Maybe you’re more interested in the electives versus the theoretical foundational courses. The foundational courses will most likely ‘structure’ the way you organize your research for the elective courses, so choose wisely.

Where can I find this program? What universities offer this program?

It depends – really. Do you want to study at the university you are at now? Research programs there. Do you want to study at another university in the same area? Research programs there. Do you want to study in a different country? Make sure you know the exact admission and degree requirements – along with the fees (although studying out of the country will be an exotic experience, you also want to know how much the program costs as an international student). It’s called THE INTERNET. It’s a valuable resource. Use it 😉

How do I choose a supervisor? What is the quality of the resources available?

Before deciding on a school or program, it may be beneficial to contact potential supervisors to discuss your research opportunities. Review faculty members in the program you are interested in. See if there are any common interests you may share that are similar to your learning goals and objectives. Also, make sure you know what type of research the university and program are known for. If you’re research objective does not ‘fit’ with the research of the university (and it’s totally an ‘institution’ thing), then look at another school.

Is graduate funding available? What are alternative sources for funding?

Potential sources of funding can include awards, scholarships, bursaries, teaching assistantships, graduate assistantships, and, if you plan to choose York University, York Graduate scholarships for top-ranked students. There are also a list of federal (Canada) and provincial (Ontario) awards graduate students should apply for. If you are planning on pursuing a graduate program in the social sciences or humanities, consider applying to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

What employment opportunities will this program lead to?

I recently had a meeting with a professor of mine to discuss the potential graduate programs I was interested in. I wanted to flesh out all the possibilities and where it would eventually lead me: What job can I get out of this program? How do I make a career out of this education? I was debating between a “theoretical” master program or “practical” master program. To be honest I am still debating. I was swayed in the direction of the “practical” master program, but now I’m thinking “theoretical.” Who knows! I think it really comes down to being able to “sell” your education and its relevance to the ideal position you want and the company to which you are applying, whether or not the program is theoretical or practical.

Here is a great place for you to start looking at potential graduate programs.

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Christiaan

This is the space where you can come and decide your future with no pressure(s). I like funny things, like watching people get scared. Hilarious.

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