So you've decided to go to psychology graduate school, but now you face a difficult question: What graduate school should you choose? While you may know exactly what you want to study and have a specific career goal, not all psychology graduate programs are created equal.
In order to find the right program for your needs, interests, and goals, it is essential to explore all of your options and consider a number of different factors. The following are just a few of the big considerations you have to make before you pick a psychology graduate program.
Where Is the School Located?When you are comparing different psychology graduate schools, carefully consider the school's location. Do you plan on moving away to attend graduate school, or would you prefer to remain closer to family and friends? If possible, visit each school and some time touring both the campus and local community. Is it in a rural or urban area? Think about your own needs and wishes and then prepare a list of pros and cons for each area.
How Much is the Cost of Attendance?Psychology graduate schools vary widely in terms of tuition and fees, so it is important to realistically consider your current financial situation. Prepare an estimate of yearly tuition and living expenses for each school you are considering and compare it with your savings, yearly earnings, and willingness to acquire debt. Do you plan on taking out student loans to pay for school, or are you planning to utilize your current savings? Are there scholarships or graduate assistantships that you could apply for that would help pay for psychology graduate school? Graduate school can be expensive, but careful planning can help you budget for your education.
What is the Program's Teaching Philosophy?Each psychology graduate school has a different approach to teaching. Each school also emphasizes different aspects of psychology in the curriculum. If you plan on working in academia or research after graduation, consider programs that focus on experimental methods, psychological theory, and research experience. If you want to work directly in patient care, you will want to look for programs that offer coursework in clinical topics and allow students to practice skills in real-world situations.
What Type of Degree Does the Program Offer?Carefully consider the degree options of each psychology graduate school. Does the department offer a general degree, or can you specialize your field of study? Request a course catalog and look at the type of courses the department offers. Also check that the program and curriculum meets state requirements for licensing or certification in your chosen field.
What Is the School's Reputation?First and foremost, make sure that the psychology graduate school you are applying to is accredited. Accreditation requirements ensure that the program meets a certain level of quality and that the coursework and faculty can provide adequate training and education. Do graduates of the program seem satisfied with their experience? Ask the department for information on where graduates of the program found employment and the availability of job search assistance.