Simplifying the search for the right graduate school

Tips for making your grad school choice.

By Eddy Ameen, PhD

When I was trying to choose between psychology graduate programs that accepted me, my undergraduate advisor reminded me what a “good problem” I was experiencing. I thought to myself, “Wait, there can be such a thing as a good problem?” Indeed there can be. When you have a choice, you have the flexibility of weighing options against each other.

With great support from the Education Directorate, my office — the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) — has been developing a “roadmap” that helps you think visually and interactively about such options by positioning yourself as a “smart shopper.” We believe you have a great deal of power in your hands, maybe even more than that of the admissions officers or program chairs reviewing your applications. We want to help you use that power by making explicit some of the ways programs distinguish themselves. Hence, these differences will allow you to really compare one program (or admissions letter) to another and find one that is perfect for you. 

Please review this question sheet and roadmap (PDF, 294KB) and our worksheet (PDF, 132KB). We’ll walk you through a set of questions, tell you where to find relevant information and show you how to draw comparisons. You should also review our infographic on salaries and loan debt (PDF, 529KB) — important to consider before taking the plunge. 

Best wishes on your journey. If you have a resource you’d like to share with other students — or questions about any of our materials — please contact us.

About the Author

Eddy AmeenEddy Ameen is the assistant director of APAGS. Prior to joining the staff in 2011, he served as director of an outreach program for homeless youth. Originally from Rhode Island, he earned his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Miami.