Your friend might also want to talk to either recent graduates or current
students at the programs under consideration. Since I hold degrees from both
University of Iowa and University of Wisconsin-Madison, I get calls from
people asking me to compare the two programs. I would be glad to talk to
your student or respond to her e-mail. In addition to Mark's list of criteria,
I would recommend looking to see what types of archives or other research
facilities are attached to the program (such as the Selznick collection at
the University of Texas-Austin, the United Artist collection at UW-Madison,
the George Eastman House in Rochester, or the many holdings in the L.A. area.)
 These materials can be important in shaping what type of dissertation you
write. You should try to see what kind of track record the program has in
placing its graduates in the job market, since whether we like to admit it or
not, we want to get some kind of employment when all of the education is
done. Some programs have solid track records, some well regarded programs
are little more than diploma mills with limited commitment to their students
when their coursework is finished. You might also want to look for opportunities
 to participate in the editing of journals, such as the Velvet Light Trap
which is edited by students at UW and UT-Austin, or the Spectator out of USC.
These journals give you a chance to gain professional skills apart from those
in the classroom and to make broader contacts within the discipline.
Henry Jenkins
Ast. Prof, Film and Media Studies