You are here

Three Ways University Content Can Help With Picking a Grad School

Three Ways University Content Can Help With Picking a Grad School main image

Many of you may be under the impression that world university rankings are mainly designed to help undergraduate students; young, spring chickens fresh out of high school, to select a university.

Whilst I agree that rankings are undoubtedly a great tool for them, some of you more experienced big-brained students may be thinking: “Yes that’s all very well, but I already have an amazing bachelor’s degree under my belt. How can university rankings help me pick the best place for my master's and PhD?”

Well, actually, the QS World University Content (coming out 11 September) is extremely grad school-friendly.

Whilst we don’t recommend placing a 100% weighting on university rankings when making important life decisions such as picking a university (or any other life decisions for that matter), here are three ways in which they could help.

1) High citations/faculty score = smart researchers

Citations/faculty is an indicator which measures the research performance of a university when factored against the size of the whole research body. Basically, if you’re looking to a research or science-focused masters degree or PhD, this indicator gives you a good idea as to the quality of the research produced by the academics at an institution.

A citation is a reference to one academic publication in a text to another. The more citations a publication receives, the better it is perceived to be, therefore the more highly cited papers a university publishes, the stronger it is considered to be. When factored against the size of an institution, the higher the score, the better.

2) It’s all about the academic reputation, baby

Now for those who are less interested in doing a science/research focused graduate degree, the academic reputation component is your Northern Star, shall we say.

This indicator is key to the QS World University Content. It asks academics around the world to identify their area(s) of expertise, then it asks them to identify the institutions which they believe to be excellent in their specialist field. Don’t worry, they’re not allowed to pick their own institution (there are ways to check this! ).

Looking at the academic reputation scores of subject-specific rankings is likely to be more relevant for grad school students because, for example, if you wanted to study psychology, a professor of psychology will have contributed to the academic reputation of the ranked institutions in the QS World University Content by Subject for pyschology.

3) Want more attention? (awwwww) student/faculty ratio is the key

If you know your research project requires dedicated professors and advisers to hold your hand for 2-4 year minimum, then the student/faculty ratio score is paramount to your decision. This measure is used in many ranking systems and evaluations in the world and whilst it may not be a perfect measure of teaching quality, it provides a globally available and accessible measure of commitment to teaching. So basically, the lower the student/faculty ratio (and the higher the score), the more likely you are to get the close attention from faculty that you need.

Bonus way: Go and see the grad schools

This is not directly related to university rankings, hence, only a bonus way. After you’ve exhausted my three suggestions, it’s time to go and visit the schools to see if they're right for you. You’ll be spending quite a bit of money and a large chunk of your life (you can’t take either back!) on your master's or PhD so it’s probably worth paying them a little visit to see if they live up to their place in the rankings.

If that’s not possible, here’s a little insider tip. Universities and grad schools are always travelling the world to meet students face-to-face. This way, they get to increase their international profile, meet some potential students as well as travel around the world, all in the name of work!

Some top-ranked universities with world-famous grad schools such as UCLA, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley College of Engineering, Northwestern University and others will be travelling to the US and Canada in September with the QS World Grad School Tour. Try and meet some admissions directors there; you never know, meeting someone face-to-face might help with your final decision.

Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Vickie C.

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

0 Comment