Center for Career & Professional Development

Graduate School

Is grad school right for you? How do you figure it out? The Center for Career & Professional Development can help you explore your graduate education options and tackle the nuts and bolts of the application process. Don’t forget that our faculty in your desired area of study are also excellent resources.

Graduate School


At the Center for Career & Professional Development you can meet one-on-one with a professional staff member to get advice about your graduate/professional school search process and get help with resumes, cover letters, personal statements and applications.

The decision to attend graduate school can be a difficult one. You should consider a variety of factors, both internal (your own motivation/ preparation/ ability) and external (cost, location, job market, etc.). For a printable copy of this information and to take a brief assessment in order to better understand if graduate school is the right choice for you, download Should I Attend Graduate/Professional School?

Why to Go to Grad School
  • Passion: A strong desire to pursue your vocation/subject
  • Vocational Interest: Some vocations require grad/professional school (e.g. law, medicine), others require it in a timely manner for career advancement
  • Money: Average salaries for graduates with Master’s and PhDs are higher than those of Bachelor’s-only graduates.

Why to NOT Go to Grad School

  • Don’t know what else to do next
  • Avoiding the job market
  • To please someone else

How to Select a Potential Graduate Program

  • Target by subject (e.g. English Literature, Microbiology, Law, etc.) and degree (Master’s program usually takes 1-3 years; PhD takes 4-5 years minimum)
  • Consider each level of “fit”: School as a whole > appropriate department > individual faculty
  • Identify 20 programs in which you would be happy (1/3 “Safe”, 1/3 Probably, 1/3 “Reach”)
  • Poll your professors, alumni, and currently enrolled grad students about graduate programs.
  • Do research:,, The Gourman Report, academic journals, professional associations, practicing professionals
  • Identify faculty members who have the potential to be future mentors: Write to faculty and currently-enrolled students via email; try to visit campuses; ask questions.

What to do if you Don’t Get Accepted

  • Apply earlier
  • Apply to more schools
  • Apply to more safe schools
  • Visit and “wow ‘em”
  • Go to summer school in the targeted subject and “wow ‘em”
  • Take one class at a time in the targeted subject and “wow ‘em”
  • Get volunteer or internship experiences in the targeted field
  • Work in a “real job” in the targeted field
  • Get an intermediate degree
  • Try again

Click one of the following links for more information on graduate schools, law school and medical/health professions schools.

Through the Internet Links section of our website you can find links to numerous sites to help you with your graduate/professional school search. In our Career Cafe, you can read suggestions for writing personal statements, taking entrance exams, finding funding for your studies and more!

Other questions? Call us at 512-863-1346 or email.