Is Grad School the right next step for me?
Graduate programs differ significantly from undergraduate programs. Whereas undergraduate programs allow for a great deal of exploration, graduate programs concentrate on specificity. You want to find programs that closely match your career goals and interests. Evaluate the curriculum, the faculty research interests and alumni outcomes following graduation in addition to asking yourself questions to determine if graduate school is the right for you either now or later.
- Ask Yourself
- Am I ready to be a graduate student
- What goals do I hope to accomplish by attending graduate school
- Do I need additional education in my field
- Is this the right time to pursue a graduate degree
- Can I afford to go to graduate school
- Does this program fit my career goals
- Choosing a graduate school
Why do I want to go to graduate school?
- To learn more about a field of interest.
- To add a credential to the résumé.
- To increase earning potential.
- To create more credibility in a chosen field.
- It is important to career advancement.
Am I ready to be a graduate student?
- Are you ready to invest substantial time, energy, and money?
- Can you handle living expenses while engaging in intensive study?
- Are you as comfortable working independently as in a group who relies on your input?
- Are you sure you want to study for two to seven more years?
- Have you gathered the evidence you need while you are in undergraduate school such as projects, research, good grades, internships, jobs and other avenues that demonstrate interest in the field?
What goals do I hope to accomplish by attending graduate school?
- Are graduate school goals aligned with your career goals?
- Begin with the end in mind. For example, if you want to be a teacher, evaluate the requirements to become one, research certifications and testing, and determine if they are attainable as a result of going through the graduate program.
Do I need additional education in my field?
Not all jobs require a graduate degree, nor does success in the job depend on it. Talk with Career Development to get an idea of whether or not you need a graduate degree. Often, graduate degrees are not necessary until career changes warrant them, such as moving into administrative roles. Other careers rely on them. For example, to be a Physical Therapist, you must pursue a doctorate degree.
Is this the right time to pursue a graduate degree? Would later be better?
There are many benefits to going directly into graduate school. The earlier you start, the earlier you will finish, and it may be easier while you are still in academic mode. However, waiting can be an option. Often, work experience gained prior to graduate school can enrich your experience. It can also be a good time to catch up on college debt before accruing more.
Can I afford to go to graduate school?
- Is financial aid available – if so, how much?
- Are there assistantships or fellowships available?
- Are there other funding streams recommended?
Does this program fit my career goals?
It is important to fully investigate the emphasis of faculty research and the nature of the coursework. Talk to professors about the themes that are dominant in their programs.
- What have faculty members published recently?
- What characteristics distinguish this program from others in the same field?
- How important are admissions test scores, undergraduate grades, internships, and research to acceptance into the program – is this a comfortable fit or a reach?
- Does the program prefer applicants right out of undergraduate school or with work experience?
- Where have past graduates found employment?
Choosing a Graduate School
There are great resources for researching graduate and professional schools:
After selecting several graduate schools that interest you, visit each university’s graduate admissions page. Explore the application process and the specific program’s page.
- Contact programs directly to get information on courses, professors, costs, financial aid and application forms.
- Check Handshake for upcoming Career Development events and workshops for graduate school
- Go to Center for Career Development-sponsored graduate school fairs. Meet grad school representatives and learn about programs they offer.
- Visit schools and speak with current graduate students, professionals, and faculty