How to Find the Right Graduate School Program for You

Want (or need) to go to graduate school but don’t know where to start? Don’t fret! There are a lot of resources and strategies available to help you find your perfect match. You’ll need to do some research about your subject of interest, what degree you want to pursue, and which schools offer what you’re looking for. Once you’ve found 5-10 programs of interest, you can start on the path to your future degree. 

What should you study? 

There are over 150 graduate fields of study at UF alone, with multiple types of master’s and doctoral degrees. Multiply that by the number of universities in Florida and around the world, and you’ll find that you have a lot of options. With all those choices, it can be hard to decide which programs to consider. 

Understand your options 

  • There are almost as many degree types as there are subjects to study. Luckily, most of these can be broken down into a few categories to help you focus your search. 
  • Master’s degrees 
  • These are typically research-based or career-focused, designed for students to enter the workforce after graduation.  
  • Many master’s programs are designed to teach you all you need, but some can also prepare you to enter a PhD program. 
  • Most programs take 1-4 years to complete. 
  • Doctoral degrees:  
  • The most common type of doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).  
  • Most programs are research-based, allowing you to explore your subject with a faculty advisor. 
  • Most programs take 4-6 years to complete, depending on your research. 
  • Professional degrees: 
  • These are specialized programs for fields that require licensing or other certifications to work. 
  • Common professional degrees are Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), and Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). 
  • Programs vary widely in the time to completion based on the field. 

            Work backwards 

            • If you know what you want to do with your degree, start there! Use resources such as O-Net and other databases to see what education is typically required for your future occupation.
            • If your undergraduate degree is in a related field, ask your instructors what they studied and what they would recommend. 
            • Check out LinkedIn profiles for UF alumni that already have the type of job you want. What did they study? 
            • Set up informational interviews with people in your desired field to learn about their education. 
            • Start looking for jobs you would be interested in pursuing. Pay special attention to educational requirements to point you in the right direction. 

              Where should you study it? 

              Now that you have narrowed down what you want to study and at what level, it’s time to find specific programs. Some of the research you did on your subject may have given you some options of specific degrees or universities to consider. If not, or if you need more ideas, you have a lot of tools at your fingertips. 

              Professional organizations 

              • There are professional organizations for just about every field! They can be great sources of information about educational options, and some have graduate program listings online. Find yours through your Career Community. 
              • If you will need a license or certification for your field, check with the licensing agency to find approved programs. 

              Graduate school databases 

              Graduate school fairs 

              • In-person and online fairs are a great way to learn about multiple graduate programs at once and make some connections in the process. Check out our annual Graduation and Professional Schools Fair on October 20, 2022, in the Reitz Grand Ballroom. 

              How do you get there? 

              Once you have a group of 5-10 programs you’re interested in, start researching each program and its admissions specifics. 

              Go straight to the source 

              • Check out the department or program website for more specific information about the process, including application requirements and deadlines. 
              • Attend admissions events if the program offers them. You can learn more about the program while meeting faculty, staff, and possible future classmates. 

              The search for a graduate school program can seem overwhelming, but you can find your perfect match by following these steps. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to completing the next step of your education. 

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