Ranking graduate schools can be kind of tricky. With undergraduate schools, it is easy. There are all kinds of national sources that compare and contrast all the various programs, telling you what is the ideal. You can rank graduate schools for undergraduate programs, science programs, social life, campus accessibility – you name it and there is someone who has looked at it. With graduate school ranking, however, it is a bit different and a tiny bit more difficult. You see, the problem with ranking graduate schools is that they vary so much degree by degree. With undergraduate schools, the most important thing is to find a program with a good reputation. Because you will be taking classes in a wide variety of fields in all probability, as long as the college as a whole is good, it will look good on your resume.
With graduate education, you can go to one of the top ranking graduate schools and still have no opportunities in your department. Basically, when you’re applying for graduate schools, the more that you know about what you want to study, the better off that you are. If you know who you want to study under, you can make your entire graduate education decision based on that. There is no compelling way, after all, to rank graduate schools. Graduate school rankings are notoriously inaccurate, as the addition or subtraction of one or two key members of the faculty can change a whole department overnight. What is one day one of the ideal graduate programs in the country is, the very next day, a third tier program.
Sometimes, the top ranking graduate school might not fit your needs. For example, it may not offer adequate funding. When ranking graduate schools for your own needs, you’ve to consider your financial needs as well. Many of the best ranking graduate schools will have great amounts of financial aid available for anyone who needs it, however some of them won’t. If you apply to one of these schools, you’ve to get used to the idea that you need money before getting in. Not only are these programs inaccessible to many of us, but they also might not be the best way to get an education. After all, do you really want to go to a graduate school whose entire population is independently wealthy? It seems to me that you would have an inferior academic community to one which is more diverse.