A. Your Personal Background:
1. What are you accustomed to?
2. Do you want a change in your environment?
3. In what type of setting are you comfortable (i.e. large/small, urban/rural location)?
4. With what type of people do you feel comfortable?
1. Look for hidden costs. Find out how many times tuition has increased and/or room and board have risen in the past few years.
2. How does the cost of living compare in the area?
3. What are the opportunities for assistantships or fellowships?
4. Do they extend beyond the first year?
C. Location and Size:
1. Look at the size and location of the school, department and city.
2. What is the proximity to family and friends?
3. Are there residency requirements?
4. How available is housing?
5. Are there recreational facilities?
D. Type of Program:
1. What is the number of courses required for the degree?
2. Is a thesis or exam required for a Master's degree?
3. Is there a language requirement? How can it be fulfilled?
4. How long will it take to complete the degree program?
E. Quality of the Program:
1. What is their commitment to research and scholarship?
2. What is the reputation of the school, department, faculty, alumni
3. What are the admissions standards?
4. Who accredits the degree program?
5. What are the library holdings in your field at the school and nearby libraries?
F. Career Opportunities:
1. What services are available to assist me in my job search?
2. What has been the success of recent graduates?
3. Is the school's ability to help me find a job limited to its geographic location?
4. How do employers view graduates from this program?
NOW vs. LATER
Whether to attend graduate/professional school now or after several years is a difficult decision. Add to this the issue of attending full or part-time and the process becomes more complex.
Some graduate/professional programs may require or desire related work experience as admission criteria. Some offer a more in depth and challenging program to full-time students than part-time students. Finally, there are programs designed to meet the needs of specific local industries rather than appeal to graduate students at large.
The factors you consider may include financial resources, career interests, career necessity, motivation, ability to find employment immediately and many more. Regardless of your circumstances, seek objective outside assistance.