American professors at US graduate schools are their students’ lifelines, even outside of class. They advise, assist with research and can be a link to a job after graduation.
That’s why it is important to look at the qualifications and accomplishments of your American professors before you enroll in any graduate program. When you study in America, you want to interact with professors who not only have a good academic reputation, but who are also known for working well with students.
Search the university’s Web site for more information on those American professors. You may be able to learn more about their backgrounds, such as what schools they attended or what papers they have published. Are any of the professors nationally known? Have any won major awards?
After you have located a professor, examine the school’s Web site more thoroughly to determine if other professors at that college have similar interests. The more professors at the college whose work complements your own, the better fit the college will be for you.
Alternatively, look into the universities that employ faculty members whose work you respect. Whose papers have you read, and whose research have you followed?
American universities might tout their well-known professors. Before you commit yourself to a school simply because of that, find out if that person teaches classes or just conducts research.
If you have found professors you would like to work with at an American university you want to attend, it probably won’t hurt to reach out to them as you go through the application process.
A simple e-mail explaining your interests and showing that you have done your homework on that professor’s research could do the trick. The response also could give you an insight into the professor’s personality.
Establishing contact with American professors also could give you an edge when the university is making its admissions selections.
Find out the department’s student-faculty ratio. A low ratio – say, 10-1 instead of 25-1 – could mean smaller classes and better accessibility to professors.
Question current students about their relationships with the faculty and with their own advisers. Are they available and approachable? What types of reputations do American professors have among students?
Ask yourself what kind of American professors you wish to work with. Those who keep in close contact with students? Or are you more independent and want to work with someone who offers assistance when you ask for it?
You’ll be spending a lot of time with graduate school faculty members, and especially the one who becomes your adviser. Before you enroll, be sure that your personality and work style match those of the American professors you’ll be working with most closely.