Graduate school is not something to be entered into lightly. A graduate degree is a big financial investment and requires a great deal of your time for about a 2-year period. It also prepares you for the next stage in your career. Choose your program wisely to set yourself up for success! Here are some important things to consider before you make the big leap:
1) ONLINE OR IN-PERSON?
Do you want to take your classes online or in-person? If you prefer to take classes in-person, think about commuting time, parking logistics, and be sure to get find out their Covid-cancellation policies. If you want an online experience, inquire about whether the program is synchronous (students attend online class with the professor at a set time), asynchronous (classes can be done on your own time), or a combination of the two. Graduate school will be one or your highest priorities for a couple of years, so find a program with a format that works for your learning style.
2) PASS RATE
Graduate programs sometimes post their “pass rates,” or the percentage of their graduates who pass the BACB exam. The pass rate is not the be-all end-all, but it’s one indication as to how effectively the program prepares graduates to take the certification exam.
3) CLASS TIMES
When classes are in-person or synchronous, the course schedule will directly affect the times you are available to work. If you have a set schedule at work, be sure the class times won’t affect your availability. If you’re looking for a job that will help you meet the BACB experience requirements, knowing class times allows you to give potential employers accurate availability.
4) FIELDWORK: PART OF THE PROGRAM?
In order to sit for the BACB exam, you will need a degree and a certain amount of supervised fieldwork (check the BACB website for the specifics). Some graduate programs include fieldwork supervision as part of their course of study and others don’t. Programs that don’t support fieldwork are considerably cheaper, but students should understand that they will be responsible for finding their own supervisor. This may mean paying a BCBA to provide supervision, which makes the tuition savings less significant. Before choosing a program, take time to become familiar with the BACB fieldwork requirements and understand what the graduate program does and does not provide.
5) FIELDWORK: WHAT TYPE?
If the program you’re considering includes supervision, find out which type. The BACB allows applicants to do Concentrated Supervised Fieldwork (1,500 hours) or Supervised Fieldwork (2,000 hours), but most universities only support one of these options. Please note that these hours are subject to change per the BACB.
6) FIELDWORK: SITE
Will the organization you work for be able to fulfill the requirements that the graduate program requires of their field sites? You don’t want to get into a graduate program only to realize it’s not compatible with where you work. Find out if any of your colleagues have gone through the program you’re considering so you can get the scoop on how well the program fits into your job site.
Beyond looking at cost-per-credit and total tuition, you should also ask for cost estimates of books, materials, and fees. Keep all relevant costs of the various programs you are considering in a spreadsheet for easy comparison. Also, be sure to ask what scholarships, grants and discounts are available. At LEARN, we value our employees’ desire to pursue higher education. That’s why we’ve partnered with universities across the country to help make education for our employees more affordable and accessible.
Choosing to go to graduate school is a monumental decision that will open a lot of doors for you. Select your program carefully to ensure that it’s a fit for you and a great investment in your career!