Graduate School Questions & Answers

What is Graduate School?

Graduate study is an advanced program of education pursued after a bachelor's degree. It offers an opportunity to specialize in an academic discipline and can also provide the education needed for a specific profession. Graduate or professional programs typically offer work experience through a required internship, teaching or research. These programs range from 36 - 54 credit hours depending on the academic calendar that is followed. Upon completion of a graduate program, a Master of Arts (M.A) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree is awarded.

Consider when and how you'd like to pursue an advanced degree. Some choose to attend graduate school full-time immediately after obtaining an undergraduate degree or while others return to school several years later. A variety of part-time and online programs are available for those who would like to work full-time while pursuing their degree.

A note to Social Work Students: Recent graduates of Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree programs may qualify for Advanced Standing programs, which can allow students to complete their master's degree in as little as one year.

What are Graduate and Professional Programs?

Graduate programs offer an in-depth study of a concentrated area such as English Literature or American History. These programs are typically 36 credit hours and upon completion, a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) degree is awarded. Some individuals go on to obtain a Doctorate (e.g. Ph.D., Ed.D.), particularly if they are interested in conducting research or teaching at the college level. Professional programs emphasize the practical use of knowledge or skill such as business, law, or medicine. While some professional programs award a master's degree such as an M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration), or an M.S.Ed. (Master of Science in Education), other degrees are also offered. For example, a J.D. (Juris Doctorate), is awarded for law, and an M.D. (Medical Doctorate), is awarded for medicine. Professional programs vary in the number of credit hours required to complete each program.

Is Graduate School Right for Me?

Consider and clarify your motivations and goals for pursuing an advanced degree.

Right reasons for pursuing graduate school:

  • You are eager to study in the discipline.
  • You have a specific career goal that requires this graduate degree.

Wrong reasons:

  • You're undecided about a career path and are thinking graduate school will allow you to "find yourself." It may be better to explore short term 'gap year' experiences and invest time in some self-reflection and career research to clarify long term goals and then decide if a graduate degree supports those goals or not.
  • You are getting pressure from friends, family, or professors. Try to go back to what personally fulfills and motivates you. After all, you are the one who must pass the courses and repay the debt.
  • You think you have no choice because there are no jobs for someone with your undergraduate major. This is a common myth, and many employers seek students from a variety of majors and with a variety of skills.
  • You do not feel ready for the working world. This is a common fear. Think about the experiences you have gained throughout your college career. Campus and community involvement, part-time and full-time jobs, internships, research, study abroad, and other experiences all help to develop transferable skills that employers seek.

Career & Professional Education

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