Things to Consider

Geographic Location

Geographic location is a term that means different things to different people. What does it mean to you?

  • Within commuting distance of where you currently live?
  • In another part of the country?
  • In another country all together?
  • In a place where there are ample job opportunities that align with what you plan to study?
  • Somewhere with a reasonably low cost of living?

Certainly, there are even more ways to define geographic location in relation to graduate school. However you define geographic location, it is likely that it will impact your graduate school decision either on the front end as you identify programs to which you will apply or on the back end when you decide from among your acceptances.

Keep in mind that how you think about geographic location and how important it is to you may serve to limit your options or increase them.

We invite you to discuss the role that geographic location may play in your graduate school application process with one of our career counselors.

To schedule an appointment, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 401-456-8031.

Back to top

Program Size

Program size may give you some clues about how competitive the program may be to get into as well as how competitive it may be to complete.

Generally speaking, the smaller a program, the more competitive it will be, although that might not always be the case. A small program might indicate that it is new and being grown. It might indicate that is being down-sized or even phased out. A large program may admit many students, but only a portion of those admitted actually successfully complete the program. Be sure to check these things out in advance.

Program size may also support or constrain your ability to learn. Do you do your best work in smaller classes or in larger classes? Do you prefer to learn from material that is delivered in a lecture format or do you prefer to be in a seminar setting?

Program size may impact a variety of other things as well: your access to faculty in general, opportunities to participate in faculty research, availability of graduate assistantships, and competition for jobs upon graduation.

We invite you to discuss the role that program size may play in your graduate school application process with one of our career counselors.

To schedule an appointment, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 401-456-8031.

Back to top

Program Cost

Even though more education generally leads to higher salary, graduate school is likely to be a costly proposition. Some programs are very expensive while others are more affordable.

If your professional goal is to work in a non-profit sector where salaries are generally less than in the private sector, you may want to consider a less expensive program so you are not buried in debt upon graduation.

If you are going into a higher paying field, the cost of your graduate education may be of less concern because you will more easily be able to pay back your debt.

There's also a hidden dimension to program cost - the "perqs" that may accompanying graduation from one institution vs. another and contribute to the cost of attending the program. What resources are in place to help you secure employment upon graduation? Is there an active alumni network that will support you professionally, either as a source of jobs or as a source of potential clients.

We invite you to discuss how the cost of programs may factor into your decision to apply to certain graduate programs with one of our career counselors.

To schedule an appointment, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 401-456-8031.

Back to top

Admissions Requirements

Different programs (even different programs within the same discipline) may take into consideration different criteria in their admissions decisions. How they then evaluate that criteria may well vary program to program. These criteria and how they are evaluated will indicate whether or not you are likely to be admitted given your candidate profile. Speak with the people responsible for admissions in the programs in which you have an interest to get a better understanding of their unique admissions criteria and evaluation process.

That being said, there are basic criteria likely to play a role in your acceptance to different programs. Among these criteria are:

Back to top

Faculty Areas of Expertise

In graduate school, you will refine your professional interests - perhaps even more than they are refined at present. If art history is your general interest, perhaps 20th century painting is your specific passion.

It makes sense to identify programs in which there are faculty members who have expertise in areas that as closely match your specific intellectual passion as possible. From an academic perspective, there is a greater chance that your research agenda will be supported and you will have more opportunities to engage with faculty doing research that intersects with your interests.

From an admissions perspective, faculty (who often form graduate admissions committees) will consider more favorably qualified candidates who have an interest in their area(s) of research and who are likely to be able to contribute to that research. This may prove to be critical in highly competitive programs where more qualified candidates apply than can be admitted. It may make the difference between being accepted and/or being offered graduate assistantships that will help underwrite the cost of attending graduate school.

Your faculty members may be aware of faculty members within their discipline who have research interests similar to yours. They may be willing to facilitate an introduction. Also, you can unearth much of this information on your own by reviewing individual faculty web pages to determine faculty areas of expertise and then acquainting yourself with some of their research. You can also email them to ask informed questions about their research (after you've read it!) and to express your interest in studying with them.

We invite you to discuss how to identify and correspond with faculty teaching in programs of academic interest to you with one of our career counselors.

To schedule an appointment, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 401-456-8031.

Back to top

Post-Graduation Outcomes

Getting accepted into and completing the graduate program of your choice are only two pieces of the puzzle. A degree from this program that will enable you to achieve your professional goals is the final piece. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the program known and respected?
  • Are its graduates sought in the workplace and/or at other institutions of higher education?
  • How and where do program graduates find the kind of work you want?
  • Which graduates are landing jobs?


    • Only those in the top 10% of the class?
    • Those with the degree alone?
    • Those with the degree plus prior related work experience?
  • What resources will be provided to you as a student (and future alumnus) to help you secure your initial position and future positions as your career evolves?

It is important to consider resources that will be provided to you as a student and a future alumnus.

As you evaluate programs, be sure to consider your return on investment in the form of potential post-graduation outcomes.

We invite you to talk about post-graduation outcomes as a factor in selecting graduate schools that are the best for you with one of our career counselors.

To schedule an appointment, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 401-456-8031.

Back to top

Page last updated: August 14, 2013