OK, after Peace Corps service, you have decided to go back to school for a professional degree in public and international service — but big questions are only now presenting themselves. Here are some answers.

Should I apply to a name school?
Make sure you find the program that best suits you. There are literally hundreds of excellent programs for returning volunteers who want to pursue careers in public and international service. So, apply to some you are certain will accept you, some in the middle, and some that are the most highly selective. Remember, graduate programs are expensive and you want to shop not only for the program with the best fit but also for scholarship support.

What are the signs that a program is right for me?
Do they answer your e-mails? Do they have a clear web presence? Will they interview you prior to your application? Can you visit classes and speak with current students? Do they show they care about you and your career goals?

Where can I go with this degree?
The school should be able to provide you with a list of the fields their graduates have entered. Make sure the program is in keeping with your aspirations as a returning volunteer and that it will help you reach your career goals. At the very least, the program should help you secure internship experiences that let you test a career field and be a stepping stone to job offers.

Should I just go to law school or get an M.B.A.?
Maybe. But the best preparation for a career in public and international affairs may not be found in the more traditional curricula of law and business schools.

What should I look for in the faculty?
Are they available, even outside of office hours? Are their classes small and can you establish strong working and mentoring relationships with them? Do they have strong connections to the world of work in addition to their academic credentials?

Where can I get more help?
Contact the school’s office of admissions and see if they can answer the questions posed above. Send me a comment and I will be happy to give you answers in an upcoming blog.