If graduate or professional school is in your near future, now is the time to gather as much information as you can about the programs you are interested in.
However, some of the most important aspects of a program will not be evident from the program’s websites, brochures, or admissions officers at a graduate school fair.
When researching programs, you should:
1. Get to know the “space.”
Visiting the school in person allows you to see how the campus is laid out and learn about the surrounding area. Is it in close proximity to things you enjoy? What are the housing options like? What do the labs, studios and/or classroom facilities that you would be learning in look like? Overall, does it seem like the type of environment you will like to spend time in?
2. Meet the people.
Try to visit campus while classes are in session. If you attend an organized visit or open house, you may have the opportunity to connect with program directors, faculty, and current graduate students.
Meeting fellow prospective students is also important. This is especially important if your graduate or professional program will use a “cohort” model – meaning you will work with the same people throughout the duration of the program.
3. Think through the experience
Will the professor you are hoping to work with still be at the institution when you’re planning to attend? Is the program you are looking into fully staffed and solidified with active alumni, or is it a new program that has recently launched, still working through accreditation? What will your life as a graduate student in this program look like (based on what you’ve learned from talking to current students)?
4. Explore it all; even the little details
Being on campus will give you the opportunity to notice small details that you wouldn’t be able to pick up on by browsing a website. Checking out posters, bulletin boards, and conversations happening around you will give you a sense for graduate student life in the department. You may learn some things about the student-faculty relationship, about graduate student life, and how connected the program might be to employers in the community (important for when you are job searching!).
As you start to make your list of graduate or professional programs you’d like to consider, also pay attention to when these programs have open house events or preview days.
5. Prepare for the exam*
The majority of graduate and professional programs will require you to complete an entrance exam, similar to how you took the SAT or ACT when applying to UMBC. See below for what exam you might be expected to take:
Dental School: DAT (Dental Admission Test)
Business and Management Schools: GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
Master’s and Doctoral Programs: GRE (Graduate Record Examination) *Most common graduate admissions exam*
Law School: LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
Medical School: MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
Pharmacy School: PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test)
The Graduate School at UMBC
Applying to Graduate Schools via UMBC Career Center
24 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Graduate Program by Mallory Ladd