For many, graduate or professional school is the natural next step after obtaining an undergraduate degree. For others, graduate school may be required for entry into their chosen profession (e.g. doctors, lawyers, researchers, professors). Whatever your situation is and whatever your plans are, the Office of Leadership Development encourage you to prepare for graduate school admission.


When to attend

Many students choose to enter graduate school immediately after obtaining their bachelor’s degree, while some choose to wait before entering graduate school. Some advantages to both choices are:

Immediate Enrollment
  • Students are typically still in “learning mode” after graduation
  • Academic material is typically still “fresh” in students’ minds
  • Can result in faster degree obtainment and entry into a students’ desired career
Delayed Enrollment
  • Some programs require professional experience prior to admission to the program
  • Students may choose to develop other personal or professional experiences

Why attend?

Students may choose to attend graduate school for a variety of reasons such as intrinsic interest in the subject, an advanced degree may be required for one’s profession, or an advanced degree may help a person do his or her job more effectively. One not-so-good reasons for choosing to attend graduate school include a lack of knowledge of one’s career plans and aspirations (e.g. “I’m going to graduate school to figure out what I want to do”). Remember, graduate school is very rigorous, so your reasons to attend need to be solid enough to motivate you through those years of challenging study.


Graduate Degrees

There are three main types of post-baccalaureate degrees: the master’s degree, the doctoral degree, and the professional degree. The most common master’s degrees are the master of arts (MA), and the master of science (MS). These types of degrees provide in depth information beyond the baccalaureate level and usually require a thesis. Some doctoral degrees include the doctor of philosophy (PhD), and the educational doctor (EdD). These terminal degrees provide an understanding of how to do advanced research. Recipients of doctoral degrees are trained as researchers; they complete a dissertation and contribute new knowledge to their field of study. This degree is typically required to teach at the collegiate level. Some professional degrees include the juris doctor (JD), medical doctor (MD), and the master of social work (MSW). This degree provides specialized instruction for a particular profession, and it is this clinical or practicum aspect that differentiates professional degrees from other graduate degrees. Visit the Discussion Forums on the Student Leadership Forum for more details about graduate school and the graduate school application process.