Research Your Graduate Specialization

Research Your Graduate Specialization

How to Research Your Graduate Specialization

Locating U.S. programs that match your research specialization can be challenging. However, in-depth research on programs will not only help you find suitable programs but may also help you define your own educational and career goals.

U.S. graduate schools offer a wide range of programs. Your area of interest is likely to be taught at many universities and may be located within a variety of departments or schools at different universities. The key to your success is to match your own study interests with the research activities of a professor.

University Search Engines: Peterson’s

The graduate search engine at Peterson’s (http://www.petersons.com/gradchannel/code/search.asp) has two different menus that you can use to select areas and subjects of interest. The first menu contains general study areas. Once you choose one of these areas, you have the opportunity to choose from more specific fields that will then appear on the second menu. If you’re not sure what general area your field would fall under, choose the “All Subjects” category to see all the specialized field choices.

You can select more than one choice from either menu by using the shift button as you right-click on your choices. For example, if you want to study ways to collect information on biological matters, you might choose to look at both “Bioinformatics” and “Biometry.” Note that programs that stretch across different fields such as “Biotechnology” (which might involve a program in the biological sciences, agricultural sciences, or engineering and applied sciences) will typically be listed under results for all relevant fields, so there’s no need to worry too much over whether you are covering all possible options.

Once you have your field(s) of interest, you can choose degree level and location to narrow down results.

University Search Engines: Gradschools.com

GradSchools.com (http://www.gradschools.com) is another general university search engine, which also provides menus for general and specific areas of study. This site categorizes the fields somewhat differently than Peterson’s does and, unlike the Peterson’s search engine, you must choose a general area of study before you can see the more specialized fields, so you may need to explore a bit to find what you want.

Once you have chosen a general area of study, you can choose whether you want a campus-based or online program, as well as the geographic location. You can further expand or reduce your list of results by choosing a specific level of study and/or by adding states that are close to the one that you initially selected.

Please note that you don’t need to create a username and password or pay any fee to use the above-mentioned websites. On both sites, once you have your list of schools, you can often learn more about particular specializations and faculty interests by clicking on the link for the universities that interest you and reading the brief descriptions that the search engines provide.

Since some programs may be listed by one search engine but not by another, it’s wise to do searches at more than one site. Many other graduate school search engines besides those created by Peterson’s and GradSchools.com exist, though those two are among the most comprehensive search engines. To find more visit http://www.educationusairan.com/grad-study/links. Also see http://www.educationusairan.com/fields-study to explore search engines and lists specific to particular disciplines.

Specialized Search Engines and Other Options

A good website to find published articles from different faculty members is http://scholar.google.com. If you are at the point of narrowing in on a truly specialized area, say “genetics of the earthworm,” scholar.google.com provides an easy way to learn who is doing research in this area by searching for related words. Another similar research search engine, http://www.jurn.org/, focuses specifically on e-journals in the arts and humanities, allowing you to locate scholars doing research in a variety of specializations from Iranian history to performance art.

Joining or learning about professional associations, reading material in your field, and even searches with general tools such as http://www.google.com or http://www.bing.com can also prove valuable.

Department Home Pages

Once you’ve come up with an initial list of institutions, it’s time to visit the department websites. Learn about the program’s focus and see if it matches your career goals. Read faculty homepages and learn more about their research interests. Is there a fit with the type of research that you want to pursue?

If you spend enough time to research and read from the various sources available on the Internet, published directories, and university department websites, you’ll be able to determine appropriate programs to pursue within your subject area. Best wishes for a successful search!

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