Purpose of Graduate School
Graduate studies build upon the foundation of your undergraduate coursework by studying a particular topic in more detail. Graduate studies may be done in in any discipline or interdisciplinary topic.
Graduate degrees are required for certain careers. The type of degree and area of study needed will depend upon the profession.
Types of Graduate Degrees
Graduate degrees occur at two levels: Masters or Doctoral.
Studies leading to a Master's degree usually involves specialized coursework in a specific topic, and often laboratory and library research resulting in a thesis.
The Master's degree can be used in two ways:
- As a credential in itself, like the Bachelor's degree
- As a stepping-stone to doctoral work
Doctoral studies include even more specialized coursework and very involved laboratory, field, and library research activity. The degree awarded at this level is a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) for most fields.
- Laboratory or field experience is required for research-oriented graduate programs.
- Strong GPA. Admission to graduate programs normally requires a minimum grade point average of 3.0 for the undergraduate coursework. Many graduate schools will admit only those with a significantly higher GPAs.
- Relevant Coursework
- Build relationships and network. You will need strong letters of recommendation for graduate school.
When to Apply
To get the most from a graduate program, have clear career goals and ideas about what you want to study before you apply. Often it's better if you have a few years in the workforce before applying to graduate school.
Each school will set its own application deadlines. Applications may be due up to a year before you plan to start the program.
Search for Graduate Programs
Once you know the topic you wish to study, conduct a web search to find schools with relevant programs. Professional organizations associated with that discipline may list relevant programs. Read research papers in the relevant professional journals to find out who is conducting research that might interest you; then find out where that individual teaches and conducts research.
Each school will have its own set of admission requirements.
Cost of Graduate School
Tuition will vary according to the school you choose to attend. Many graduate programs offer stipends to eligible students. These stipends cover tuition and other expenses.