Getting into Grad School: The Basics You Should Know

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  • During the last year of pursuing a Bachelors degree, most college students begin to think about what their next step is. Some after graduation choose to get a job, others will volunteer abroad, or intern for a company or organization, while others will go off to graduate school. However, if you have decided to go off to graduate school after receiving your Bachelors degree, there are a few things you should consider before you apply.

    The Grad School Application Process

    The application process for Graduate School is very different than undergraduate school. First, applicants file an application directly to their department of interest, rather than to an admissions office. Once the application is received by the department, your professors review the items on your application to see whether or not you are a good fit for the program, if there are professors you can study with that share your research interests, and will assist with advising your thesis and/or dissertation. The application will also ascertain if you deserve financial aid, and are ready for graduate school’s academic rigors.

    Second, the Statement of Purpose should be about the applicant’s reasons for pursuing a Masters of Doctorates at the university they have chosen, and indicate potential research interests.

    Third, normally a writing sample or portfolio is requested so your department of choice will be able to see if your work shows promise toward graduate study.

    Fourth, you must take the GRE General and/or subject tests to qualify for admission. Law school, business schools, and medical schools normally require different exams from the GRE, which you can learn more about from your adviser at your current program, or from the graduate school you are applying to.

    It is important that you research carefully the department you have chosen to pursue your graduate degree in, and introduce yourself to the faculty both through written correspondence, and in person. The reason why this is important, is because you need to be able to persuade the department through your credentials, research interests, and career goals that you are a perfect fit for the program, and in order to do that you need to find out for yourself if the school is a good fit.

    Financial Aid

    Financial aid for Graduate Programs is a little different than for Undergraduate programs. Funding available includes job offers like teaching assistant-ships, fellowships, scholarships and research grants. To learn more about requirements for receiving financial aid, contact the department you are applying to.

    Choosing a Masters or Doctorates Program?

    If you are applying for graduate study in a field that requires advanced study like engineering, you will need to be careful about what graduate degree you choose, because it might impact your career choices later on. For example, some electrical engineering masters offer terminal Masters degrees, meaning that once you receive the degree you cannot go on to get your Doctorates, or enter a career in academia or research. A terminal Masters degree, however, works well for the student who wants to work in applied engineering after graduation, and wants practical skills needed to work in the field.

    In conclusion, if you are determined to go to graduate school, you need to research the programs you wish to apply to. This is important if you wish to pursue a career in academia, research, with a Fortune 500 company, or in a specialized field like medicine or law because certain graduate degrees are designed for different career paths. Therefore, study the information about the programs carefully to make sure they fit your career goals, research interests, and academic goals.

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