Grad School 101

How to Begin

  • Identify your true strengths, interests,and values to help you discover what is right for YOU, not your friends or parents.
  • Keep your grades up and sign up (and prepare) to take the required standardized tests.
  • Talk to faculty, friends and family who have gone to graduate school to get their perspective about the differences in time commitment between being an undergraduate and a graduate student.
  • Talk to faculty, friends and family who are in your targeted profession to get a realistic sense of the career path and the challenges associated with the work they do.
  • Investigate creative ways to finance your education; by planning ahead you may reduce your debt.
  • Research graduate schools to help you find the best match.
  • Investigate the admissions process and reach out to current graduate students at your targeted schools to evaluate your probability for admission.
  • Have faith and APPLY! Remember, you can’t get in unless you apply.

Credit: Roslyn J. Bradford, Assistant Director of the MBA Career Resource Center at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business.

Reasons for Going to Graduate or Professional School

  • A requirement for the career; e.g., law, medicine, social work, occupational therapy, counseling
  • To move up in a field of work or earn more income; e.g., nursing, business management, teaching, public administration
  • To prepare for a research career or to teach in higher education
  • To change careers
  • For personal growth

Types of Degrees and Formats

There are different types of graduate degrees one can obtain after graduating with a Bachelor's degree. Those types include:

  • Master's Degree - a high level of mastery in a particular subject area, usually 30-60 units.
  • Doctorate Degree - highest (terminal) degree you can earn in most fields, usually 60-90 units.

There are also different formats for graduate degree programs. Depending on the institution, the program might be only in-person, only online, or a hybrid of both online and in-person courses. For more information on the type of degree and program that best fit your needs and academic and career goals, schedule an appointment with a career coach.

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