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How Do I Evaluate the Quality of a Science Program Before Applying?

Thinking about majoring in a STEM field? Here's some expert advice on researching your academic programs of interest before applying for admission.


Thinking about majoring in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field? Consider the following when researching your schools of interest to see if you’ll be getting the most out of your academic experience if you chose one of their programs to make your new educational home. 

  • Reputation of program or department: Is this school well known for your intended program? How long have they offered it? Is the program or college accredited by the appropriate agency? 
  • Faculty: Are professors active in the scientific community (conducting research, presenting at conferences, publishing their work, etc.)? Do they have the highest degrees in their fields? Are any classes taught by just teaching assistants?
  • Classes, labs, and coursework: What is the average class size for science lectures, labs, and other courses? Will you be able to dive into labs and major-specific coursework your first year, or will you have to wait for upper-level classes? Are any courses conducted out in the field? Are laboratories and equipment up to date?
  • Research, internship, and other opportunities: Does the school fund student research, and will you be able to work on your own or with faculty? Are there opportunities to present your findings or get published in academic journals? What internships are available in your field of interest? How often do internships lead to full-time jobs? What STEM-related extracurricular activities are there?
  • Graduate success: What are the graduation and career placement rates for students in your intended program? How many students are accepted to graduate or medical school? What grad schools do they attend, and where have they found jobs? Are there any notable alumni?

If you're not even sure the exact field you'd like to pursue in college, read our article How to Choose a STEM Major From All Your Different Options for advice on making the choice. 

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