If you have decided to return to school to earn a graduate degree you will need to choose a program before you can narrow down the schools to which you want to apply. For some people this is a more clear choice than for other people but spending the time to narrow your focus will help you identify schools that offer programs of study that closely fit your goals.
Are you considering a graduate certificate, a masterís degree or a doctoral degree? If you are considering a masterís degree in business you will need to decide if you want a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree or one specifically in accounting, finance or possibly management. If you want a masterís degree in art are you thinking of studio art, art education or art history? If you are thinking of pursuing a doctoral degree you will have to decide which specific program of study you are interested in. If you have decided on a doctoral degree in education do you want to pursue an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. and which program are you considering, such as educational leadership or school psychology? Graduate school programs are very focused so you need to be focused too in order find the right program and right school for you. Something else that you should keep in mind if you are considering a masterís degree is whether or not you will need to continue furthering your education in order to pursue your career goals. For example, if you decide to pursue a masterís degree in psychology with the goal of becoming a school psychologist, will you need to earn a graduate certificate in addition to your degree in order to secure your dream job?
If youíre not sure which specific program is the right one for you start by researching jobs that you are interested in. Find out what certificates or degrees are required for the job and talk to people in that role to find out their perspective of what would help you advance in that particular career. You also might find it helpful to talk with recruiters in the industry you are interested in to find out what employers look for in someone seeking the career path you are pursuing. Another thing you could do is contact some schools and ask for the job statistics of graduates of programs you are interested in.
A good way to start exploring your opportunities is to request graduate catalogs from some schools you are interested in or review them online if they are available. This will give you a chance to start exploring the specific programs of study that are available.