How to Choose a Graduate Program
When choosing a graduate program, you will want to choose one that matches your career or research goals. If you are confused, your Career Services Office (or equivalent) typically offers assistance on this front. At Carleton, the Co-op and Career Services Office offers workshops and one-on-one assistance and also online resources in MySuccess (via Carleton Central) that can help our undergraduate students identify their goals.
Graduate programs often focus on particular areas of interest. When looking at different graduate program options, it is important to explore the various specializations offered by that program. It is these specializations that make a program unique. To see the specializations offered by the graduate programs at Carleton, visit our program listing and click on the program(s) of interest to you.
It is important to note that there are different types of graduate programs available. Coursework programs allow you to complete a master’s degree by taking courses without producing a thesis. These programs have very little to no research involved and can take about one year to complete.
Research-focused grad programs typically require students to do a considerable amount of research, culminating with a written thesis, or research essay. In research-based programs an individual faculty member (or several) will supervise your work. As these faculty only have limited number of students they can supervise, they will be only be able to admit students who best match their own research interests, as well as having exceptional qualifications. At Carleton, some programs either require or strongly encourage you to select a faculty member as part of the application process. You will need to check with the department in which you are interested in submitting an application to find out if this is the case.
As Carleton offers more than 100 graduate programs, it is understandable why it can seem a bit daunting to choose one program. In fact, you may be interested in more than one program. For example, you may be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs (focusing on the intelligence in international affairs) while also be interested in the Master of Infrastructure Protection and International Security (MIPIS) program at Carleton. At Carleton, we do allow you to apply to more than one program, but you will need to pay the application fee for each application you submit.
As you decide on which graduate program you wish to pursue, it is important for you to find out as much as you can before submitting an application. Should you have any specific questions, at least at Carleton, you can always follow up with the relevant Carleton Graduate Administrator or Graduate Supervisor. Their contact information is available on the appropriate departmental websites.
Application Insider provides prospective students with a series of tips on how to apply to graduate school. The series is based on Carleton’s application policies, but the information can be useful in all graduate school applications. You can view the complete series here.
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