When comparing different programs consider the following aspects in the order they are presented.
The importance of this factor tends to be overestimated by students, I guess, this is mostly to our financial hardship here. Overall once you get financial support and it is said to continue during your period of studies, which is what you generally get if you get admitted, the exact amount of support does not matter that much. Universities will give you enough money to cover all your basic needs, thus I would suggest you not to prioritize this factor. You might consider whether you will receive Scholarship, TA or RA, though this is usually given only for the first year and then you will get RA. In some universities for some professors in theory (because they have less money than those in experiment) you might be required to teach (be TA) during all your period of studies, you might want to check on that with graduate coordinator or current graduate students.
University\’s and Program\’s rating
That is obviously important. The better the program, the better the faculty members and the higher level of the graduate students.
Faculty Members working in your chosen area
Importance of this aspect often gets underestimated. If you are unsure in what field you would like to work, then you probably do not need to bother about that. On the other hand if you have already decided that you want to work in the field of Theoretical Condensed Matter, for example, check how many professors at this university work in this field, how old they are (don\’t count those over 60-65), whether they take new students. Make sure that there are at least 2 professors (better 3-5) which you consider as your possible scientific advisors.
Location and Climate
This might seem of little importance at first .
Although American cities does not differ in living conditions, cultural attractions, etc it is still true that live in the coastal, Mid-Western, Southern and Northern states is quite different. The best states to live are costal. As a general rule mid-American states are more traditional, conservative and costal states are more diverse and active.
Also, do check for the climate, the month by month temperatures can be found for all major cities in US.
You might want to consider whether some of your friends are already at this university.
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