Course identification - the first step.
Back in 2016, when I decided I wanted to pursue my Masters in the US, the first question I had was what do I want to study?
To a large extent, I sort of had figured the broad themes of topics/areas that I wanted to pursue but the number of niche courses focused on specific super specializations didn't make my job easy.
Below are the steps I followed, it may not be the best method but it is something that worked best for me.
STEP 1: The hunt begins.
I will take a step back and look at identifying themes.
I ideally went to course offerings from few of the top schools in the country : Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Michigan, MIT and downloaded the list of courses they offer.
Printed them out and took this big bold marker and started crossing out courses/areas that I would never want to get into.
That left me with a few areas that I knew I would like to venture into. In my case - Business Strategy, Data Science, Marketing Research, Marketing, Digital Marketing being a few broad areas.
STEP 2: Making the theme list.
Once you have shortlisted your list of potential areas of study, now is the time to deep-dive.
Go through your marked areas and read more about the courses. You could read from the course details from the top schools that you have shortlisted. This would give you a high-level information overview about the course.
One could always talk to someone from each of the shortlisted areas as well to understand more about the work one could expect
The next thing would be to look at jobs one would expect getting it after completing the course (would say, look at the larger organizations - Fortune 50/100)
The outcome of this step would be that you would have narrowed down to a list of fewer areas of focus (maximum of 2-3 areas).
STEP 3: Taking the deep-dive.
Once the list has been shortlisted, its time to deep-dive. I would say, a maximum of 2-3 areas of focus.
Time to open the spreadsheet.
1. Time to deep-dive! Research information about the colleges/course.
Link to the course
3. I started going through the specifics of every course and this helped me narrow down to the top courses/colleges I wanted to apply.
Deadline for package in college
Deadline for Online Applications
Link to the course
GRE Score/Average Prerequisites
TOEFL Score/Average Prerequisites
Evaluation of prerequisites
4. Talk to Alumni, talk to international students.
Once I finalized the list of courses I planned to apply, I started connecting with alumni and current students specifically international students to understand more about the course, post-job prospects, internship prospects etc.