Grad School Resource Center

Discover valuable resources to assist you in your program search and decision-making process.

Getting Started

How to Choose Your Preliminary Program List

November 2021

Once you decide to go to grad school, anyone you mention it to will immediately ask, “Where are you going?” But the first question you need to answer is “which degree and program are best for you?” After you determine the program or programs you want to explore, then find the schools that offer them.

Master’s or Ph.D.?

The term graduate school refers to the post-undergrad pursuit of either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. It’s important to understand the difference between a master’s and a Ph.D. and know which program you should start researching. Once you decide which type of graduate degree to pursue, the hunt for the perfect program commences.

Which program should you choose?

Many people think this is an obvious choice. For example, if you work in the business field, you get an MBA. But there are multiple concentrations and programs within programs to consider before you can figure out which one makes the most sense for you.

If you’re planning to go to grad school right after undergrad, research companies where you might want to work and see what kinds of graduate degrees they prefer. You may be able to get some advice from an actual HR person, or talk to other people in the field or employees at a particular company. If you’re already working in your field of study, speak with your superiors and coworkers about which type of program and degree will most benefit your career path and salary.

If you want to pursue a graduate degree for a new career altogether, make sure you research what specific degree and program is preferred for that field of study. Once you’ve determined what kind of degree to pursue — M.A. M.S., MBA, Ph.D., etc. — then you can search for programs and institutions and find your ideal match on

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