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Graduate School


Graduate school is an advanced program of study that involves obtaining specialized knowledge in a concentrated or specific field. Graduate degrees are offered on three levels: Masters, Specialist, and Doctorate.

Masters degrees are offered in multiple fields of study, however some universities offer only doctoral programs in particular fields. A masters degree program can take between 1 and 3 years to complete. Some masters degrees are designed to lead to a doctorate degree while others are terminal degrees for a given profession.

Specialist degrees are typically completed in addition to a masters program and provide additional training and experience beyond what is required for the masters degree. This type of degree prepares students for professional certification or licensing.

Doctorate studies typically require the pursuit of original research for an academic program and take anywhere from 5-7 years to complete.

For further information regarding professional schools such as medical school, law school, and MBA programs refer to the professional school section.


Questions to ask yourself...

  • What are both my short and long-term goals?
  • Are my goals personally realistic?
  • Is an advanced degree required to obtain my career goals?
  • Do I really love the field enough to narrow my studies and obtain an advanced degree?
  • Do I have the necessary academic ability and interest to be successful in graduate school?
  • Am I choosing graduate school to delay the process of finding a job?
  • Am I choosing graduate school because I feel there are no other options at this time?
  • Am I willing to invest the time, effort and expense to complete an advanced degree?

You may be interested in choosing to attend graduate school if you:

  • Have a clear intent of what career you want to pursue and an advanced degree is required for entrance.
  • Desire to immerse yourself in the study of a specific academic discipline.
  • Desire to practice in a specialized career.
  • Desire for a complete career change.
  • Desire for career/salary advancement that requires a graduate degree.
  • Desire to switch from practitioner to administrator.
  • Need for professional licensing in your career.


The following resources will help you in evaluating academic programs, financial aid resources, cost of study, application requirements, exams required for entry and other relevant information. Talk to your advisor or faculty members in your area of interest, they are an invaluable resource. Also check out some graduate guide school books and follow the links below:

Graduate Programs

Choose a program that fits your needs and interests. Consider the following when examining programs:

  • Prestige of the institution/Accreditation
  • Faculty reputation and interests
  • Size of departments
  • Specialization(s)
  • Special strengths and weaknesses
  • Student/Teacher ratio
  • Curriculum and services
  • Employment Statistics
  • Library and technology resources
  • Geographic location
  • Selectivity of admissions
  • Housing and facilities
  • Enrollment
  • Amount of financial support


This timetable is approximate, but offers steps that you need to think about no later than the summer before your senior year. It is a good idea to start as soon as possible!


Month Action Item
  • Begin researching graduate school
  • Take entrance exam practice tests
  • Sign up for a GRE/entrance exam prep course or buy your own practice material. 
  • Register for the GRE/entrance exam
  • Request information from schools that interest you. 
  • Consider visiting those schools. 
  • Reach out to professors who will eb able to recommend good programs. 
  • Take the GRE or entrance exam. If you do not like your score, sign up for another date. 
  • Begin drafting your statement of purpose
  • Finalize your list of prospective schools
  • Familiarize yourself with professors who share your research interests at each school 
  • Contact the professors who will be submitting a letter of recommendation. 
  • Continue editing and revising your personal statement
  • Request official transcripts from your undergraduate institution
  • Send your recommenders upplemental materials, like your resume/CV, personal statement, and writing sample that they can reference. 
  • Make contact with students and professors at your prospective school. 
  • Arrange a visit to campus if you can. 
  • Have someone in the field and a few smart (and honest) friends read over your personal statement. 
  • Send GRE/entrance exam scores directly to the school.
  • Complete and submit all grad application. 
  • Keep copies of every section for your records. 
  • Verify that your recommendations have been sent.