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Deciding Where to Apply to Grad School? 6 Things to Keep in Mind

You know the things grad schools are looking for in an ideal applicant – high undergrad grades and test scores, a cohesive, well-written, persuasive personal statement, impressive work experience, and the wherewithal to complete the program. But what are the things that YOU should consider when deciding which schools to apply to? Here are some critical things to think about as you make your selection.

1. Location

    Can you picture yourself living in the area where the school is located? Do you have a support system – family or friends – in place? If you’re married, will your spouse be able to find employment in the vicinity of the school? Think about the day to day and emotional pieces of deciding on a place to live.

2. Reputation

    Does one program have a better reputation in the industry you want to pursue? This doesn’t necessarily coincide with a school’s ranking.

3. Fit

    Which program has the best prospects for you relating to curriculum, types of research, etc.? Which course most closely matches your interests? Do you prefer small classrooms or large lecture halls? Independent study or group projects?

4. Research

    Who will be your research supervisor? Have you met or communicated with possible supervisors of the programs, or their current students, that you’re considering? It may also be helpful to speak to your undergrad advisor. He or she can be a good resource if they know the field well. You want to try and choose a program where you will have wonderful mentoring and research supervision.

5. Funding

    This is more important for PhD students than master’s level students, as PhD programs are frequently fully funded. Which funding package is the most appealing? How do the packages compare in terms of fellowships vs. assistantships? How many years is the funding for, and does it include summers as well?

6. Cost of living

    This is related to both location and funding. Graduate stipends might be enough to live on in some parts of the country, while in others you may need to think about student loans or working to cover living expenses.


Take the time to consider all of these factors before sending out your applications. It will require some soul searching and research, but will be time well spent when you apply to, and are accepted by your perfect match program.

Sounds like you’re ready to get your grad school GAME ON! Download your free copy of Get Your Game On: Prepping for Your Grad School Application, your go-to guide for jumpstarting the graduate school admissions process.

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2 Responses to Deciding Where to Apply to Grad School? 6 Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Roop August 19, 2016 at 6:16 am #


    I have recently given GRE and I thank the whole magoosh team for helping me at all the stages! Now I am set to finding universities and I need your help again. I scored V-152, Q-155 and AWA 4.0 and I am applying for MS in I/O psych. Now the twist in the story is that I am from Computer Science background. But I have done a full time PG diploma in psychology(45 credits). Have almost a year’s work experience in the same field. Presented a paper in an international conference. I am working on a research and will be publishing it too. I am crazily confused between universities. As SIOP and US News list do not match much. Anyway could you help me get an idea of a few universities I could apply to?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 20, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      With your scores and background, the universities you have the very best shot at would be mid-sized public universities. However, you still probably have a chance with some top schools too. You’re right though– when you have a mix of not-quite-top-GRE-scores but a really impressive professional and academic background, the usual guides aren’t that much help. In this case, I really recommend contacting individual schools you’re in. If your GRE scores are below their requirement or their average range, ask them if you can still be considered– in your case, it definitely doesn’t hurt to ask!

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