Applying to Graduate School
Have Questions About Graduate School?
Graduate school can be a great opportunity to move forward in your career and we are happy to help you through the whole process. Graduate school is a big commitment of both time and money, so you want to be sure it’s right for you before you begin.
Is Graduate School Right for Me?
To help determine if graduate school is right for you, ask yourself these questions.
- What are my career goals? Is a graduate school degree necessary to accomplish these goals?
Graduate school might be the extra thing needed to reach your career goals; however, it might be not worth your investment. Answering the above question will help you determine if graduate school is a valuable investment for you or not.
- Do I have the desire and willingness to dedicate time, effort, and money to studying an academic field in greater depth? Am I ready for more intense schooling or am I a little "burned out"?
If you are feeling burned out, a break from formal education may be just what you are looking for. A year or two of work experience may even enhance your graduate school experience.
- What do I expect to happen as a result of going to graduate school? Are these expectations realistic?
Some individuals with advanced degrees expect a higher starting salary, which may price them out of contention for a position. Graduate school does not always guarantee a better job or management position. Talk with faculty, friends, and employers to test your expectations.
- Am I considering graduate school for the appropriate reasons?
Graduate or professional school is not the place to go to put off a job search or entry into the real world or to help you figure things out. It is important to know why you are considering graduate school before entering in order to avoid making an unnecessary mistake.
What to Consider when Choosing a Graduate School
The following considerations can help you decide where to pursue your graduate degree.
- The focus and/or format of the program
- The number, quality, and expertise of faculty
- The geographic location of the school and community - housing opportunities, student demographics
- The overall cost of the school
- Financial assistance (fellowships, assistantships, grants)
- The reputation of the school - ranking, successful alumni, career opportunities
- Acceptance and retention rates
- Admissions requirements
Do I Need to Take a Standardized Test?
Most schools will specify which test(s) are needed for admission and what constitutes a competitive score. The most common tests are GRE, GMAT, Miller Analogies Test, MCAT, OAT, DAT, and LSAT. These tests are typically taken the fall of your undergraduate senior year.
How to Apply for a Graduate Program
5 steps to submit an application
- Application form
- Nonrefundable fees: Fees for graduate programs vary widely and can range from $25-$150.
- Personal statement: The personal statement carries a lot of weight in the application process. It needs to be well written and well thought out. It is your chance to state who you are, how you would make the school’s program better, and where you are going professionally.
- Transcripts: Generally, you will need to supply a transcript from each college/university that you have attended to the graduate program.
- Letters of recommendation: Most schools will ask you to supply either the names of three to five references or letters of recommendation. Generally, recommendations will come from faculty, internship or clinical supervisors, employers, or others who can discuss your potential for graduate work.
The personal interview is generally the last stage of the application process and represents the culmination of your efforts. For those schools that utilize a personal interview, it is often one of the most important criteria used in admitting students into the program. The interview process allows the school to learn more about you and allows you to learn more about the school. For a list of questions you can ask as a candidate, download the document on the top right column. Also, visit the Career Services Career Prep Resources page titled "Interviewing".
I was not planning on attending college because my husband and I are both self-employed, but when I realized that work for the courses would help me solidify our businesses and organize them in a more standard way, it was an easy decision.
University of Mary Online
Thinking about furthering your education? The University of Mary offers scholarships to help our students take that next step.