Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tips for Applying for Graduate School

Written by a successful graduate student- Kristen Frese, Career Advisor for University Career Center @ BSOS!

Many BSOS majors pursue an advanced degree in their field upon graduation. Graduate school can be a great opportunity that can sometimes expand career possibilities, but it is also a big investment of time, hard work, and money! If you’re considering a graduate degree, stay tuned for our 10 tips for applying to graduate school, posted every Tuesday, and check out our timeline for applying to graduate school to stay on track! 

Want to get started today? Check out our resources HERE

2.  Choose the best degree for your goals.

There are different types of graduate school that you can consider, depending on your career aspirations and which skills you hope to obtain. Below, you’ll find a brief descriptions of degree options. 
·       Master’s programs are typically 2-3 years and are usually more focused on applied education. While some research is required (such as a thesis), there will be less emphasis on designing and conducting research than in a PhD program.
·       PhD programs are about 4-7 years and focus more on research and academia. This is the highest degree attainable in most fields. PhD programs are more likely to offer funding. Keep an eye out for Tip 8!
·       Professional degrees, such as the Doctorate of Medicine and the Juris Doctorate, take 2-5 years to obtain and focus on the application of specific skills. 
·       Read a more in-depth discussion here! Another interesting discussion: Choosing Between the PsyD and PhD Psychology Graduate Degrees

Still not sure about your options? Use the following resources or UMD offices to learn more. 

      1. Is grad school right for you? 

Graduate programs can range from one to seven years, so make sure that grad school is the right choice for you. Sometimes, students find it most beneficial to go directly from undergrad, while others take a few years off, gain work experience, and apply later on. 

Consider the following questions to help determine if grad school is right for you.
·       Does your dream position require a graduate degree? Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook for more information on education requirements for particular job titles!

Should I take time off before applying to graduate school?
Pros for working first:      
-        Take a year off, maybe through a gap year, and gain valuable marketable skills.
-        Land a full-time position with an employer who offers to pay for graduate degrees. Here are 15 organizations to get you started. 
-        Try out your interests by working in your chosen field first to ensure you want to pursue an advanced degree (and maybe meet more professionals to write your recommendation letters). 
-        Idealist.org offers even more reasons to wait a couple of years before pursuing graduate school. 
Reasons for applying to graduate school immediately:
-        You know that your career field requires a masters or PhD (i.e. hearing and speech areas, counseling, therapy, medical fields, etc.) AND you are certain that field is for you!  
-        You have unlimited financial funds, or know that there are available funding opportunities for your program, and you want to continue learning (kudos to you!).
·       Are you prepared to apply this year? Many graduate programs have December 1st deadlines, which means you’ll have to take any required tests (i.e. GRELSATMCAT), request transcripts, complete applications, etc. by this date. Look at this timeline to see if you are on track!