What Makes a Good Graduate School?

For a graduate school to be considered good, a number of measurable and immeasurable factors need to be considered. A prospective student should look for a school that fits their individual needs and has favorable statistical data pertaining to his or her field of study. Read on to learn about some characteristics of good graduate schools.

Criteria for a Good Graduate School

While there are some statistics used to rank schools, what makes a good graduate school largely depends on the characteristics one looks for in a school. Some graduate schools that are ranked highly by sources like U.S. News & World Report may not be a good fit for particular applicants. Alternately, a school in a favorable location that offers appealing degree programs might not meet the educational goals of certain students. The best way to determine a good graduate school is to assess both the subjective and objective aspects.

Common Courses Graduate programs are available in most subject areas, including academic and professional subject areas such as English, law, and sciences.
Prerequisites Graduate programs require undergraduate degrees and some degree programs may have particular preferences about the type of undergraduate degree; standardized tests (e.g. Graduate Record Exams) may also be required for acceptance on a particular program.
Online Availability Many graduate degree programs are fully available online.
Possible Careers Graduate programs lead to careers in many different fields, often at a higher level than undergraduate degrees; lawyers, doctors, business managers, scientists, and teachers often have graduate degrees as a requirement of their position.

Subjective Measures of Good Graduate Schools

Certain criteria that make some graduate schools more appealing than others simply can't be quantified. Factors like a school's location, culture and available degree programs play a huge role in determining a good graduate school for most prospective students. When considering a graduate school, students should look into student life and talk to current students to see if it would be an environment in which they are comfortable. They can also look to sources like U.S. News & World Report and The College Board, which provide information on campus life, activities, housing situations and popular majors.

Objective Measures of Good Graduate Schools

The objective statistics used to measure graduate schools vary slightly depending on the subjects taught, such as business or law, but still have much in common. U.S. News & World Report's graduate school rankings measure both input and output factors. Input factors include the schools' acceptance rate and incoming students' average scores on entrance exams. Generally, graduate schools with low acceptance rates and high average test scores are considered good. Graduates' average starting salaries and employment rates are examples of output measurements. Prospective students should look for graduate schools whose graduates have high starting salaries and employment rates.

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