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How do I Choose the Best Biology Graduate School?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2019
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Many features could qualify a biology graduate school as "the best," but these don’t always receive the same ranking, in terms of importance. Applying students must decide what things are most needed in graduate school prior to making a choice as to which schools are the best. That decision is likely to be individualized. Generally, some considerations students may have include the type of degree desired, ability to get accepted, focus and reputation of programs, convenience of attending, and cost.

In biology graduate school, students could earn either a master’s or a doctoral degree. The decision has to be partly predicated on what degrees can be earned. Some schools only have a master’s degree program, and if students are interested in a PhD, they’ll need to focus on universities that offer one. For greatest flexibility, some doctoral studies give students a master’s degree midway through the doctoral program. If a fledgling biologist wants this degree and the option of remaining in a program to earn a PhD, those programs with this feature may be among the best biology graduate school choices.

Other considerations on this issue include finding programs that will accept students with only an undergraduate degree. Many will, but doctoral programs are notoriously more competitive. If a program seems initially out of reach, it may be smart to get a master’s degree first and then apply to doctoral studies.

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Each biology graduate school establishes varying prerequisites for admission. Choice of schools has to take into account likelihood of acceptance. Some programs may be easier to gain admission to than others, and as students make their choices they need to find those programs that are the best fit. Students should be realistic in their choice, setting their sights on those schools most likely to offer a place in a graduate program.

It’s hard to choose a biology graduate school without considering academic focus. Some students desire a loose focus that allows for exploration of a variety of areas. Others look for schools and teachers with specific areas of emphasis. Researching school and faculty interests is a helpful way of determining most likely areas of study.

Convenience of attendance is another consideration. Some options aren’t open, as they are with other majors, especially accredited online degrees because so much laboratory and research time is needed. Many programs do have part-time studies. Applicants also need to ponder the convenience of matters like lengthy commute or relocation.

Cost is, undoubtedly, important. Most government grants drop away at the graduate level, though many countries have loans available. The total cost of tuition may dictate loan amounts needed.

Determining whether the amount of student loans when completing biology graduate school is unrealistic when compared to earning potential is important. Many state run schools have lower tuition, and can have strong graduate programs preferred by students who rely on loans to finance their education.

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