Find & Evaluate Programs
Graduate school is a tremendous commitment, and choosing the right program requires careful consideration. On this page, you'll find information on shaping and organizing your early search, evaluating program location, and evaluating the program itself. At the bottom of this page is a list of graduate school rankings and search engines to assist you.
In order to identify the differences between programs that interest you, we recommend using the Finding A Graduate Degree Program checklist to streamline your evaluation process.
Start Early & Network
It is important to start early when thinking about graduate school. Begin identifying and evaluating graduate programs to which you might apply. Talk to people with a graduate degree in your field of interest. If your goal is to teach in an academic field, it is highly advised that you speak directly with professors who are teaching that subject. If you want to be a lawyer, talk with the pre-law advisor early in your program; request information interviews with lawyers in the community as well, since they can give you an idea of what it is like to work in that field.
If you are targeting a career in the sciences and/or research, or if you are seeking to partially fund your grad degree working in the school, research the faculty in the school and the program. Identify faculty who are working on research or specialties that align with your goals. Institution websites typically have web pages dedicated to ongoing research and faculty, so mine this data and reach out to those faculty members via the methods recommended.
If you face dead ends or have questions, the Admissions Counselors at the institution can be your friends, so don’t be afraid to contact them for guidance in reaching faculty. Eckerd’s Career Services staff can also assist you in navigating these waters.
Location, Location, Location
A key decision is whether you can or want to relocate to pursue graduate study; this decision will define the range of options you consider. Geography, weather, and proximity to family and friends may be as important to you as the excellence of the program. Distance learning programs may be an option, given your aspirations, field of study, and learning style. A cautionary note: in some professions a degree from a distance learning program is considered a hindrance to hiring or promotion, while in other professions the nontraditional program is considered a neutral factor. Consult with discipline faculty about the wisdom of choosing traditional or nontraditional graduate programs.
Maintain documentation on your research of schools – perhaps using three categories of schools based on your academic interests and strength of candidacy:
- Reach programs are those that are stretch goals or long-shots, due to location, probable costs or challenges for acceptance (highly competitive criteria and volume of applicants)
- Probable programs are those where you are most likely to be accepted and still good matches for your academic goals
- Safety programs are those that “just” meet your goals, but where acceptance is highly likely—almost guaranteed.
For students whose native language is not English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and/or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) may be required.
Schedule an appointment to see a Career Services professional through Triton Track to discuss graduate school admissions through Triton Track.
Leverage the reference sites listed throughout this Guide to direct and support your research.
Which School/Program Has The Right Stuff
Research both the institution/school, and the focus of the graduate Program and its faculty.
Gather information on the schools you are interested in attending. Do your background and interests match the research projects being worked on in the graduate program? Conduct research to find scholarly works written by the graduate faculty. Find a school where there are at least two faculty members with whom you would like to work based on their reputation and the focus of their research. The breadth of a program (high-quality faculty in a broad range of sub-areas) can also be a sign of a good graduate program. What is the cost of a typical “degree” and what is the likelihood of funding assistance at the institution and/or for your Program?
Where to Search
Contains practice GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT practice tests and prep. You can search their database of accredited graduate programs.
Excellent site where you can search by institution name, location, academic area, or professional degree. Includes the Graduate Program Database, Peterson's Law Schools Channel, Peterson's MBA Channel, and Scholarship Search.
A comprehensive guide to Doctoral, Master’s, professional degree programs, distance learning programs and financial aid tips. Copies of their annual “magazine edition” that includes tips and school lists are available in the Career Services Office.
CollegeXpress.com (formerly gradcu.com)
A Carnegie Communications website that offers search capabilities for programs, scholarships and a special “summer” program search, as well as 800+ lists of colleges and universities based on various criteria. Copies of their annual “magazine edition” that includes tips and school lists are available in the Career Services Office.
Boasts being one of the largest sites and includes a directory of nearly 67,000 master's, doctorate and graduate certificate programs, searchable by subject, location, format and school.
Site fueled by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a software solutions firm focused on being the leading global provider of specialist higher education and careers information and solutions, providing coverage on 2000 institutions in 50+ countries.
Want to study in Britain? This site provides free counseling and advisory service to all students interested in undergraduate and graduate study at over 35 top UK universities across England, Scotland and Wales. You can apply to up to 5 universities through the Across The Pond application form.
This site was originally funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the National Postdoctoral Association, and the Center for Science and the Media. They strive to provide the most accurate and recent data for every doctoral program in America. They've been mentioned for their custom rankings by the National Academy of Sciences.
School Rankings: US News Education/Grad Schools
Home page for the U.S. News & World Report school rankings, college comparisons and program search tool. 2017 Best Graduate School Rankings
School Rankings: University of Illinois @ Urbana/Champaign
Gives information about college rankings and controversy surrounding these rankings. Result of a scholarly study with bibliographies that provides college and ranking comparisons—the good, bad, and ugly—done by U of I.