Making the decision to go to graduate school is no easy task. In the coming weeks and months you will have to ask yourself a lot of questions, questions like: "Do I want to earn a master's degree or PhD?" "What field of study interests me most?" "What course of study will help me reach my long term career goals?" "How can I pay for this?" Since 1996 our team has been working to compile the most comprehensive listing of graduate programs available listing over 67,000 options, across master's degree programs, PhD programs, and certificate programs.
You can use our degree finder to search for programs by subject area, program format, and location. When you find programs you are interested in select the "request info" button next to the listing, fill out our simple form and your information will be sent to admissions counselors at that school. Then those counselors will contact you with more information about their program.
If you're interested in learning more about what it means to be a graduate student, or you are interested in finding out more about financing options, check out our resources section and blog. We have enlisted the services of several subject matter experts to help us bring you information and tips about the grad school application process, and how to survive and thrive once you enroll in a graduate program.
Reason #1 to Attend Graduate School: Career Advancement
Some professions do not require graduate degrees, but it may be helpful career advancement. After a few years working in various business fields, it is common for people to pursue a Masters of Business Administration. Some people may choose to specialize in certain areas of the business world and pursue a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) or a Master of Taxation (MTax), just to name a few. In education, a teacher cannot become an administrator without earning a Supervisors Certificate or a Masters in Educational Leadership1.
Reason #2 to Attend Graduate School: Potential Salary Increase
While advancing in a career could sometimes lead to higher pay, the attainment of a graduate degree also has the potential to increase a person’s earning potential in certain fields2. For example, in the education field, the level of schooling one obtains could determine the pay scale they are on in combination with the amount of years one has worked3. If you are considering going to graduate school for this reason, be very careful to weigh the costs of education (including the loss of earnings if you go to school full time) with your potential salary after graduation. In particular, research the career center of the program you are interested in, to get a feel for the job opportunities available.
Having a Graduate Degree PAYS!
Reason #3 to Attend Graduate School: Requirement for Employment
For some careers, in order to even be considered for employment, an applicant must hold a graduate degree in their respective area. This is not only applicable for doctors and lawyers, but for careers such as Physical Therapists, School Counselors, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Social Workers4.
Reason #4 to Attend Graduate School: Career Change
Despite an individual's level of educational attainment, very few people stay in the same career throughout their entire work life. Reasons for career changes vary from being laid off, burn out, or change of interest. However when the time comes to look for a new job, one's past experience may not be relevant enough to switch careers without training.
Fortunately, most graduate degree programs do not require an applicant to have majored in the same content area, which makes it easier for someone to pursue a graduate degree in a new field as long as they at least hold a bachelor's degree. Some do however have prerequisites that a student must take before matriculating. For example, no major is required for medical school, but an applicant might need to complete prerequisite math and science courses in order to have the foundation to handle the rigors of a medical program.
More and more careers nowadays require a college degree. As a result many jobs that used to not require a college degree now do, such as becoming a police officer. This shift has caused jobs that used to require a college degree to now expect more. It seems as if graduate school has become the new college. When considering the continuation of studies beyond one’s bachelor degree, there are several graduate degree options to choose from including certificates, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees.
Certificate Programs: Generally provide advanced training in a specific area. They are not often required to pursue a career, but give graduates of these programs added credentials that make them more marketable to future employers as well as become specialists in certain areas within their field.
Masters Programs: Require the completion of a bachelor's degree and typically take one to two years of full time study to complete6. Common types of master’s degrees are the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS), which can be applied to a wide range of content areas. Other common types of master's degrees include Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Social Work (MSW).
Doctorate Programs: Are often the highest degree in their field of study. Earning a PhD qualifies someone to teach at the university level as they are now considered experts in their field. PhD programs do not have a specified timeline but often take five to seven years to complete. Common types of doctorate degrees include Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
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Graduate School Admissions
Graduate school admissions are similar to college admissions in that a transcript, entrance test scores, essay, and letter of recommendations are all required. When considering graduate school, the first thing one must do is identify which entrance exam they must take. Unlike applying to college where either the SAT or ACT is accepted at all institutions, graduate school programs require different entrance exams based on the type of program one is applying to.
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)7 is a general skills standardized test similar to the SAT. Like the SAT there are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections each scored on a 200-800 point scale. For more specialized graduate programs, specific subject-related entrance exams are required such as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)8 for business school, Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)9 for law school, and the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)10 for medical school.
Once an applicant has built their list of graduate schools to apply to, the application process is fairly similar to the college admissions process. Fill out the application online and send your undergraduate transcript, personal essay, and letter of recommendations. Because there are far fewer graduate programs than undergraduate programs they tend to be more competitive. If an applicant passes the paper round then they are often times brought in for an interview round. These interviews may be one-on-one or in groups. Many times graduate work involves extensive research and the admissions committee wants to ensure that you will work well with others in their respective departments.