Career & Professional Development

Deciding to Apply

Attending graduate school entails a considerable commitment of time, money, and hard-work. It is important that you weigh the decision carefully and clarify your professional goals, the benefits of obtaining an advanced degree, and your preparation level. If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree, speaking with a career advisor, faculty, pre-professional program advisors, and graduate program alumni can help with your decision.

You have the option of attending graduate school directly after graduation or after taking time off to achieve other goals. Many programs offer full-time, part-time, or distance options as well as financial assistance including fellowships, assistantships, and tuition waivers. It is important to research schools, programs, and financial aid opportunities.

How To Decide If Graduate School Is Right For You

As you consider graduate school, ask yourself the following questions to gain clarity about whether an advanced degree is the right choice for you.
  • What are my short-term and long-term goals? Where does graduate study fit into these goals?
  • What will this graduate degree do for me that my undergraduate degree will not?
  • Do I have the interest, skills, and strengths for a particular subject? Am I prepared to undertake an extensive commitment?
  • How will I pay for graduate school? What financial obligations do I have?
  • Is this the right time to pursue graduate study or would another time be better?
  • What is my reason for pursuing graduate study? Am I going to graduate school to please others or avoid the employment search? Am I going to graduate school to pursue my career goals?
Faculty, alumni, and pre-professional program advisors are other people that can help you decide. You can ask them:
  • What is your career background? Where did you obtain your degree(s)? Why did you choose that discipline and program?
  • What was your experience like in graduate school?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking time off to work or travel before pursing an advanced degree? If I take time off, what experiences might I pursue to show my interest in the field?
  • What career options are available after obtaining this degree?
  • Who else should I contact for information or advice?
There are many resources to assist you in researching schools and graduate programs. The resources include program overviews and information about faculty, finances, and program rankings. In addition to the sites below, determine the professional organizations that are prevalent in your field to conduct further research.

U.S. News and World Report

Princeton Review


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