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Quality and Reputation of the Program

In some fields, the first full-time job you obtain after completing your graduate degree will depend heavily on the quality and reputation of the program and institution from which you receive your degree. For example, if you are thinking about going to law school, these factors, along with your first-year grades, are likely to affect where you get your first internship. In turn, this might affect who hires you after law school for full-time employment. Other fields and employers, however, may only require that you have a specific graduate degree, and perhaps, some relevant experience.

Program and school rankings in quality and reputation of graduate schools and programs include The Gourman Report and the U.S. News & World Report Graduate School Rankings. Among other factors, these rank- order lists consider student selectivity (e.g., median undergraduate grade-point average, admission test scores, and percentage of applicants accepted), placement success of students after graduation, and faculty to student ratio when determining a school's ranking.

Because of biases and weaknesses inherent in all reputational surveys, remember that such rankings are often viewed as controversial. There tends to be little agreement about which factors are significant in determining the quality and reputation of a school or program.

Each factor will carry different weight depending on what you are looking for in a particular graduate program. In spite of the existence of such rankings, you may want to rely on information gathered from informational interviews and other networking contacts when making personal decisions about your graduate school endeavors. Although it is important to consider the quality and reputation of the program, it will be just as important to consider whether or not the program will enable you to pursue your own personal interests and career goals.

Source: IU Career Development Center and Arts & Sciences Career Services 2007