Center for Career & Professional Development

Graduate/Professional School

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 faculty in your desired area of study are also excellent resources.

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.

To Go or Not to Go to Grad School

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.). You should attend graduate school if you have a strong desire to pursue further studies in your vocation/subject of interest. Some vocations require grad/professional school (e.g. law, medicine), and others may require it down the road for career advancement. While average salaries for graduates with Master’s and PhDs are higher than those of Bachelor’s-only graduates, those salaries vary by discipline/industry. An advanced degree alone is not a guarantee of higher pay. Don’t pursue grad school just because you don’t know what else to do next, want to avoid the job market, or just want to please someone else. 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?

How to Select a Potential Graduate Program

Graduate study can be very narrowly focused. Begin your search by identifying the target subject (e.g. English Literature, Microbiology, Law, etc.) and degree level (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 for ideas about specific grad programs. Do research:, The Gourman Report, academic journals, professional associations, practicing professionals. Note where the authors of research you read for your classes are working or where they studied. 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

See the links to the left for more specifics on graduate school, law school, and health professions schools.