Is Graduate School Right for You?

Graduate-level education allows you to focus on a passion, or an area of study, that you just touched on in your undergraduate work.  It can give you a deeper understanding of a field, help you develop more powerful professional relationships, and increase your marketability in certain fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that over a lifetime, professionals with a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree, earn more and have a lower level of unemployment than the general population. However, graduate school requires significant resources; time, money, energy, and patience.

Graduate school preparation

Form a list of prospective schools

Talk to faculty/staff in your field for suggestions on the appropriate number of schools to which you should apply.

Take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

It is important to take a practice GRE test or GMAT (there are online for free or you can purchase study books). GRE test and GMAT preparation courses are also available. Make sure you check to see if your program requires a subject test.

Write your statement of purpose (also called “personal statement”)

This is usually 1-2 pages long and is an opportunity for you to discuss in more detail how you are distinctive from other applicants. It often includes why you are interested in the field, previous relevant academic/professional/personal experiences, career goals, and your personal characteristics/strengths that would be an asset to the program. Check to see if your program has specific questions for you to answer.

Contact the professors of interest at your prospective schools

This early networking shows interest in the program and professor and helps make you distinctive when the graduate college looks through piles of applicants.

Request official transcripts from your undergraduate/graduate institution to be sent to your prospective schools

Most require that is sent directly to them. There will be a small cost per transcript.

Polish your curriculum vitae (CV ) or resume

Check to see what your school/program prefers. Remember that these are different documents.

Request letters of recommendation from your professional contacts

Usually, 2-3 recommenders are required. Check to see if your school/program has specifications for their qualifications (i.e. faculty). Be sure to provide your recommenders with a copy of your statement of purpose and CV/resume.

Double-check the application requirements

Some schools/programs require other materials such as a writing sample, personal essays or portfolio.

Fill out the FAFSA online and look into private loans, grants and fellowships

  • Check out Peterson's to help you develop personal statements for graduate schools, navigate financial aid, and prepare for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT.