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Researching Programs & Schools

When should you begin researching programs?

Start early! Some applications may open as early as one to one and a half years before you want to attend. You will need to give yourself enough time to apply, study and complete admission tests and give your references time to write their recommendation letters.

Application deadlines for assistantships, scholarships and other financial aid may be different from the deadlines for program application materials.

Timeline for researching and applying

Researching Programs

  • Attend preview or visit days at the schools you are considering. If there are no scheduled preview days, schedule your own visit. Set up appointments ahead of time to talk with faculty, current students and graduate or professional school coordinators and to tour the campus and facilities.
  • Use graduate school search websites (e.g., or other websites such as the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to search for schools and programs.
  • Attend graduate and professional school fairs and information sessions.
  • Talk with your faculty advisor and other faculty and staff.
  • Seek out professionals currently working in your desired field and join professional organizations related to your field.
  • Connect with current graduate students and follow career or departmental offices through social media.
  • Join LinkedIn groups associated with the school and area of study.
  • Determine what would make you a strong candidate. Do you need job shadowing, direct patient care or research experience?

Evaluating Programs

Each person has their own criteria for evaluating programs. Some things to consider are:

  • Quality of the program in your area of interest
  • Degree(s) offered, length of program, program requirements
  • Faculty and their areas of expertise, reputation and credentials
  • Accreditation
  • Cost and financial aid available
  • Location and surrounding community
  • Career planning and job search assistance
  • Culture of the program, school, community
  • Facilities, equipment, labs, libraries and practicum/clinical opportunities
  • Additional criteria important or necessary for you to succeed


Next step: Applying to Graduate and Professional School