53rd DPS Meeting

What to Look for in a Graduate School

DPS 2021
53rd Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences
Virtually Anywhere
3 – 8 October 2021


Meet with representatives from graduate schools in GatherTown.

  • Sunday, 3 October, 7:00 PM EDT - Grad Pavilion Hour
  • Wednesday, 6 October, 11:00 AM EDT - Graduate School Fair

Participating Schools:

  • Auburn University
  • Arizona State University
  • Boston University
  • Cornell University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Department
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • University of Texas at San Antonio / SwRI
  • University of Washington
  • Western University

What to Look for in a Graduate Program and School

Selecting a graduate school is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. Explore the information below, and come prepared for the DPS Virtual Graduate School Fair. 

  • Arrive early and give yourself plenty of time to visit with school reps.
  • Visit the schools you are most interested in first.
  • Visit school websites, download and read their content.

While you are browsing the various programs consider some of the following:

  • Career Goals
    • What is your career goal?
    • Where do you ultimately want to work?
      • Academia: (University or Small College)
      • Aerospace
      • Communication, Media or Science Writing
      • National Labs & DOD
      • Planetaria, Science Museums or Public Outreach
      • Policy
      • Observatory/Science Operations
      • Data Science
  • Research Interest
    • What courses are taught?
    • What type of research will you conduct?
  • Faculty
    • Who are the faculty and what are their backgrounds?
    • Are they attending the meeting? Can you meet with them?
    • Are they presenting their research at the meeting?
    • Are they published?
    • Do they collaborate with their students?
  • Internships
    • Are internships a required part of the degree program?
    • Ask where students have done their internships.
    • Does the school help with finding these opportunities?
  • Application requirements 
    • Find out the admissions requirements (GPA, test scores, etc.)
    • What is the application deadline?
  • Facilities 
    • Are the labs, research and computer facilities up to date?
    • What facilities are available to graduate students?
  • Reputation
    • Consider the reputation of the program and the faculty at each college.
    • Ask other people about the programs.
  • Location 
    • Where is the school located? (city, rural, ocean, mountains)
    • Where do you want to live?
  • Campus Environment 
    • What size is the school and the program? 
  • Placement information of Past Graduates
    • Ask to see the placement information for past graduates
    • What types of jobs have they taken?
    • Where are they working?
    • What are their salaries?
  • Cost
    • Ask about tuition, room & board, books, fees and living expenses
    • Are there fellowships, assistantships, stipends or financial aid available to graduate students?

Be ready to talk about yourself!

  • Prepare your elevator pitch, this is your chance to sell yourself.
  • Update your vFairs profile.
  • Have your CV ready to upload
  • Network throughout the week
  • Invite faculty from your top schools to your iPoster or Oral presentation
  • Follow-up after the meeting
  • Ask if it would be possible to arrange a campus visit in which you could meet with admissions representatives, current students, and faculty.