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I was reading this.

Now here's some advice that isn't silly: don't go to graduate school unless you get into a strong program.

What's the meaning of "program" in this case? What would be a strong program?

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  • The question may be silly, but I have portuguese as my native languange and this is the first time I see this word used in this context.
    – Red Banana
    Jul 5, 2012 at 22:33

3 Answers 3

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In this context, it is referring to the particular department or school, that is to say, "don't go to graduate school unless you get into a good university, or rather a good department." Don't go to graduate school for the sake of going to graduate school - make sure you're going somewhere which does good research, where faculty members publish frequently, has a history of graduates doing well for themselves, etc.

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One should interpret "program" broadly in this case to includes curriculum, faculty, and placement record.

More generally, consider what your objective is for entering the program. If the primary goal is to pursue research, the program strength is particularly important. If the primary goal is to obtain a tenure-track position -- pay particularly close attention to the placement record of the department, and to its reputation in the discipline. If the primary goal is to obtain credentials, overall program strength may be somewhat less important, if the school is accredited and has a good placement record.

Finally, as practical considerations, you may also wish to consider the completion rate, time to completion, level of student support offered, and RA/TA workload.

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  • What would be a strong program? I'm not sure if it has something to do with the university you are in or with the number of disciplines you are taking.
    – Red Banana
    Jul 5, 2012 at 23:15
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According to the thesaurus of my dictionary:

a program of study: course, syllabus, curriculum.

Basically, it's just another word for curriculum, although I've heard it mostly associated with graduate studies rather than undergraduate ones.

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  • 1
    The association with graduate rather than undergraduate ones is largely a phenomenon in the model of university education similar to those in North America. And that is for good reasons: in American universities, undergraduates don't declare majors until one or two years into the education, and there isn't so much a fixed program of study. In a lot of European universities (as well as in most graduate schools in the world) a program of study (I use this loosely when it comes to graduate school) is often fixed at admission. Jul 6, 2012 at 9:53

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