Narrowing Down Your Grad School Options

Narrowing down your options can be nerve-wracking especially when you are choosing between multiple programs that will help you meet your personal and career goals. Here is some advice on how you can go about narrowing down and comparing your options.  

Springtime at HDS, May 2007.

Consider All Factors 
Make a list of what you are looking for in a graduate program and all the factors you want to consider. Then rank that list in order of importance. You should be honest with yourself when considering all aspects of a graduate program. If location or housing options are important to you, be sure to include it on your list. While that might feel less important than focusing on solely academic criteria, it is important to consider all parts of your graduate school experience. Also take time to look at the resources that the program offers. This might include things like grants, fellowships, libraries, field education opportunities, and so on.  

Compare Costs 
Graduate school is a huge time and financial investment. As you are comparing costs between programs, make sure you understand exactly what costs you are responsible for and reach out to the financial aid office with any questions. As you budget out your financial obligations, be sure to consider living expenses and the cost of relocating, if necessary.  

Browse the Course Catalog 
Take some time to look through the courses that your program offers and requires that you take. In undergrad you may have been required to take certain classes just to meet general education requirements. Grad school is different in that your time is so limited so each class you take should serve a purpose and interest you. Ultimately, your dilemma should be trying to narrow down all the great course options you can choose from! 

Talk to Current Students 
No one knows what it is like being at student in a certain program better than a student who is currently in that program. Reach out to the Ask Students Inbox to connect with a current student who can share their experiences and answer your questions about HDS. You can ask about opportunities outside of classes to get involved and what the campus community is like. Depending on the program you are considering, you may be there for the next year to three years so finding the right fit is crucial.   

Think About Long Term Goals 
Grad school isn’t the goal itself; it is just one step to getting closer to your long-term goals. Think about how all aspects of the programs you are considering will help you achieve those goals. For example, for HDS, you can look at the types of careers our alumni pursue after graduating. This may give you a better idea of how this specific program will prepare you for the career path you are considering.  

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