Graduate School

Why attend graduate school?

As you plan your career, you might discover that advanced degrees can help you achieve your goals. Maybe you want to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in your chosen field, or maybe you hope to become a doctor, attorney, or psychologist. Either way, graduate school can be a useful, and sometimes necessary, way to land your dream job.

Before you apply

  • Before applying to grad school, it’s important to reflect on your career goals and make a clear plan. Grad school is an investment of your money and time, so it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
    • What are my goals?
    • Is graduate study necessary to attain those goals?
    • Am I simply delaying my career decision-making?
  • Schedule an appointment with Career Services for help with setting career goals and making an action plan.

Researching programs

  • Application procedures and deadlines can vary by institution, so it’s important to start thinking about grad school sooner rather than later. Generally, you’ll start the entire process about one and a half years before you wish to enroll.
  • Once you’ve identified your career goals and chosen the program or degree you’ll need to advance your career, you can start researching to find the right program for you. Note that not all schools will offer programs in your discipline. It sounds obvious, but figuring this out will automatically shorten your list of possible schools. It’s also helpful to consider the following:
    • Where you would be comfortable living, both during your time in grad school and afterwards as you launch your career
    • Ratings of each program and overall student satisfaction
    • School size and department size
    • Length and requirements to earn degree

Application materials

  • Admission requirements vary among schools and programs, so it’s important to identify the application materials required by each program. You will probably need some form of the following to apply:
    • Admission tests: You likely took the ACT or SAT before entering college. Many graduate programs also require admission tests (e.g. GRE, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT). Each program’s website should indicate which test you need to take. Plan to study for these tests and allow enough time to retake them if needed.
    • Transcripts: You may need to send official copies of your transcript as part of your application package. Instructions can be found on the One Stop website.
    • Resume: Grad programs generally like to see a list of your work experiences, involvement, and accomplishments. Check out our resources for building a resume or make an appointment with us to get started.
    • Personal statement: You may be asked to submit a written statement of your career goals or an essay on another topic. Career Services and/or faculty in your department can help you develop an effective personal statement.
    • Letters of recommendation: Grad programs will usually ask for at least two letters of recommendation, if not more. It’s usually a good idea to ask at least one professor for a letter of recommendation along with others who can attest to your academic or professional qualifications. Make sure to provide plenty of notice when asking someone for a letter of recommendation.
    • Writing sample: Some programs will require a writing sample. You can often use assignments from your coursework. Talk with faculty in your department or the Tutoring and Learning Center to get tips for your writing samples. 

Paying for graduate school

  • Tuition is just one of the many costs associated with graduate school, but financial support is often available. 
  • As you research graduate programs, remember to look for information about assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, work-study, student loans and other assistance options. This information is not always available on the internet, so you may need to consult with a financial aid counselor or program representative at each institution.
  • Don't forget to calculate cost of living (housing, groceries, etc.). The program or university website often provides this information.