Earning a graduate degree in such in-demand fields as public service, emergency or healthcare management can be a great way to jumpstart your career. But where you earn your degree can be nearly as important as what you earn it in – especially for busy working professionals.

“Balancing school with the demands of a career and family can be tough,” says Stephen Ostendorff, Director of Admissions at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY), a private nonprofit institution that offers programs specifically designed for working professionals. “It’s a question of finding a graduate program that’s the right fit for your life.” Ostendorff suggests five criteria as a good place to start.

Accreditation: While accreditation isn’t a strict indication of quality, with an unaccredited program you do run the risk that the credits earned may not be accepted by another institution or qualify you to sit for certain professional examinations. MCNY is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) so credits awarded in the school’s graduate programs are recognized by other accredited institutions as well as approved by, and registered with, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED). 

Flexibility and convenience: When and where are classes held? How long will it take to earn your degree? MCNY offers accelerated graduate degree programs with flexible evening, weekend and online schedules. A three-semester master’s program there can be completed in as little as one year while working full-time. MCNY also is relocating this spring to their new state-of-the-art facilities at 60 West Street in the heart of the financial district, which is home to many of New York’s human service and emergency management agencies and undoubtedly the business capital of the world.

Career opportunity: Will you get the hands-on experience you need to stand out from other candidates vying for that next promotion or job opportunity? All MCNY programs use a unique Purpose-Centered Education model that combines classroom instruction with applied knowledge and practice gained through Constructive Action (CA), a workable plan of action for a student's employer that seeks to resolve a particular workplace situation. This project illustrates how well a student has integrated theories from class into the work setting or internship in an effective, relevant, scholarly and clearly documented manner.

Cost/financial aid: Make sure you examine all costs associated with the program, including tuition, books and supplies, and miscellaneous fees. Then review the type of financial assistance available such as grants, loans and scholarships. At MCNY, an experienced financial aid advisor can sit down with you to make this process easier.

Culture: Just as organizations have corporate cultures, so too do graduate schools. You’ll want to identify one that fits your style, ideals, personality and comfort level so you’ll have a greater chance to succeed. At MCNY, our Learning Commons give s students access to academic support resources and the campus library as well as spaces to collaborate with their peers, faculty and staff.

There’s no better way to truly determine if the grad program “fits” you life, however, than seeing it for yourself. Attend the MCNY Grad Info Session on Thursday, March 24. RSVP at WhatsYourPurpose.NYC or call 888-414-4794 to speak to an admissions counselor.