How To Choose The Right University For Postgraduate Studies In The USA
If you're planning on studying for your postgrad course in the USA, it may seem like the choices of course and university are too numerous to contemplate. But the salient fact is you should be looking for exactly the same things you look for in a domestic course. You need to take into account all of the factors of where you are going to study, such as what they teach, where their specialties lie, and how highly rated their faculty is. Studying abroad is a huge undertaking and will likely cost you a decent chunk more than studying at home, so picking the right university is really important. We've listed a few ideas of what you need to be looking out for in your search.
Regardless of what kind of postgrad study you are going to be taking, you need to make sure that you are being taught by the right people. Looking into the faculty of a prospective university will give you a great insight into what their specialties are and how they fit around what you want to study yourself. The faculty of each location is likely to be as diverse as you can imagine, so checking what areas they've worked in and how they choose to focus their study is very important. Looking at published works and how well those works were received is a great place to start.
Areas of Expertise
Along with the individual faculty members, it's always worth studying what the university is best known for. The better known a university is in a particular field, the more chance you have of being able to immerse yourself in that subject. If your chosen university is renowned worldwide for your particular passion, then you can be sure you won't have any shortage of experts to call on if needs be. Looking into research projects taken on by an institution is a really good way of building an idea of what their areas of expertise are.
If you are coming from the UK or another European country, a country as big as America can seem a little much to take in all at once. With prestigious universities everywhere from California to New York, you need to be sure that you're aiming for the right place. With such a large country comes a lot of different individual cultures and climates as well. Do you like surfing? Then maybe a university in California would be a good option. Do you thrive in a big city surrounded by cultural experiences? If the answer is yes then one of the east coast cities could be just the ticket. Looking into the city or state where your prospective university is situated is essential and you should study carefully what each place offers in terms of arts, social and music as well as any other interest you might have.
Wherever you choose to study, you're going to be spending an extended period of time there – of at least on year. You need to make sure you have options that will be amenable to you in terms of accommodation. Take a look at what's offered on campus and off campus by the university itself. If you want to find private accommodation then look at local listings online and see how well set up they are for temporary to long term lets. A lot of universities towns are particularly well set up for student accommodation, but don't take that as a fact and make sure you investigate before you buy your ticket! If you're struggling to find anything appropriate then be sure to contact your chosen university's accommodation office, as it's their job to help you find the right place.
The people you are going to be dealing with and working with are going to be diverse and hopefully talented in the field you're studying. That means you need to investigate the quality of their student faculty as well as their main faculty body. Postgrad study is collaborative and intense so making sure that you are surrounded by the right people is a must. Again, looking into research projects taken on by the student faculty can be a really good way of getting an idea of what their focus is and what their scope is. It’s also a good idea to check out the student presence on social media – are there clubs and activities that you would like to get involved with? Does the student body seem like a group of people that you would enjoy spending time with?
Ratio of Students to Staff
An important statistic regardless of your level or area of study is the staff/student ratio. Postgrad study is as much about independent work as it is about collaborative efforts, but if you're lost in a sea of students all trying to get the attention of limited numbers of staff, you're going to struggle. As a general rule, the more staff available to each student the better.