What Kind of Graduate Education Is Most Valuable?

Many factors are involved in choosing a graduate school. What kind of graduate school would be most valuable for you?

Public vs. Private

  • “I was more interested in what division of sports that they had because I’d be working with their athletes.”
    Mary Bernecker, Wright State, Athletic Training
  • “For graduate school, I knew it would be a little different because I knew I was going to be mostly at home, I would be commuting there and back, so it didn’t really matter to me as much if it was public or private, it mattered more on how much I was going to pay and also how well my degree would be recognized when I went job-hunting.”
    Stephen Campbell, University of Central Florida, Education
  • “Private vs. public wasn’t really a big factor in my decision-making process. However, the qualities I liked about Pepperdine, such as small size and Christian influence, flow directly from its private nature.”
    Tom DeVinney, Pepperdine University Law School
  • “If your goal after graduate school is to become an academic or to work in a large research firm, then it makes sense to go to maybe a large, well-known, public – or potentially private – institution that does lots of research. But if your goal is more to stay in the job market, you know, non-academic job, perhaps to become a leader in your field in other ways, then I think smaller institutions would be great for that.”
    Sarah Lang, OSU Graduate Council
  • “I didn’t give much thought to whether the graduate schools I applied to were public or private. It was all about the funding and the strength of the program.”
    Nathan Washatka, Johns Hopkins University, Creative Writing

Well-known vs. Lesser-known

  • “For my graduate degree, I wanted to make sure that I chose something that was a little more out there and well-known because that’s usually the first thing your employers are looking at – what schools you went to anyway.”
    Stephen Campbell, University of Central Florida, Education
  • “Public are more recognizable. Sometimes people will immediately know a public institution. Private ones are perhaps good, but not as easily recognizable. If you’re going to work someplace out of state, they may not know the (private) institute you went to.”
    Sarah Lang, OSU Graduate Council
  • “Reputation is important and employers trust schools that they are familiar with over those that they aren’t. Each law school has a distinct reputation, and employers seem to assign that reputation to the school’s graduates.”
    Tom DeVinney, Pepperdine University Law School
  • “Attending a well-known school may make a difference when applying for government grants and jobs. Also, there are more institutional resources at hand to aid in my research than there would be at a smaller school.” –
    Erin Shockley, Vanderbilt University, Biochemistry
  • “Cornell is such a well-known school, it tends to attract top educators and students. Not only are the professors very knowledgeable, I’ve learned from my fellow students in the graduate program as well, even more so than I did at Cedarville.”
    Neola Putnam, Cornell University, Mechanical Engineering
  • “Some of the pros of attending a well-known state school like Temple are the diversity of resources in my education. Because they are well-known, they are able to attract a wider, more qualified faculty base than a smaller school often can. Downsides to being at a large state institution are the lack of community that you would see at a school like Cedarville.”
    Justin Nichols, Temple University School of Medicine
  • “Mayo is a big name in healthcare with an excellent reputation of focusing on the needs of the patient, in which I wholeheartedly agree. I am hoping it helps my resume stand out when applying for jobs in a few years. Other alums have said that patients have more confidence in them as practitioners because they studied at Mayo and actually request to see them because of this.”
    Rachel Herrera, Mayo School of Health Sciences, Physical Therapy

Tips for Choosing a Grad School

1. Only go to grad school if you really want to do it and have interest in your chosen field.

  • Know what you want to do. Which programs at which universities line up with your interests and help you get to where you want to go?

2. Figure out what you want to study, then weigh the other factors.

3. National recognition can be helpful.

  • Investigate program strength as much as university reputation. Make sure that the particular program you want to go to is strong at that particular university. Just because a school has a well-known name does not mean that all programs are equally strong.

4. Online grad school is a good option for those who need flexibility for reasons such as family, location or work requirements. (no comma)

  • Make sure that the program is both high-quality and recognized as such. Get evidence that it will help you get to your career goals – see what graduates of those programs have done afterwards.
  • Some types of master’s programs, especially in professional areas, that have pretty well-defined requirements and standards are shown to be quite valuable done online.
  • There are some programs that can’t be done entirely online, like getting a Ph.D. for basic research in advanced science. You need to be on a campus, in labs, working with people and so on

5. Traditional, in-person graduate education offers the advantage of face-to-face interactions between faculty and students.

6. Make sure admission requirements, location, cost and graduate outcomes are in line with what you want to do. (period, no question mark)

Patrick Osmer, OSU Vice Provost

Common Factors in a Grad School Choice


  • Know people in the area
  • Close to me/my family


  • Everyone seemed really friendly
  • Encourages faith and spirituality in many forms and denominations
  • Traditional, physical school
  • Opportunity to work with underprivileged people groups


  • Heard that the academics weren’t extremely tough
  • More research opportunities in my field of study
  • High return on investment of an extra year and tuition.
  • Quality of program


  • In-state tuition reductions
  • Good financial aid package
  • Covers tuition and provides graduate students with a teaching stipend

Lauren Eissler is a junior journalism major and managing editor and campus news editor for Cedars. She essentially lives in the J-Lab, with her caffeine intake roughly corresponding to how many articles she’s writing, and tweets as @L_Eissler.

Mary Miller is a senior nursing major and off-campus news editor for Cedars. She loves her coffee, enjoys reading and looks forward to exploring the world after graduation.

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