Student Support Services

Preparing for Graduate School

Defining Graduate School
Graduate School constitutes an advanced program of study focused on a particular academic discipline or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been "academic" (centered on generating original research in a particular discipline), but it may be a "professional" (centered on developing skills and knowledge for a specific profession), or a combination of both (University of California-Berkley). >Watch a video
Graduate School vs. Undergraduate School
Graduate School                                

  • More focused studies
  • Higher expectations - if you receive less than a B, then you retake the class
  • No one is checking on your grades, giving out midterm alerts, or contacting you regarding grades
  • Collaborate with faculty
  • Publication
  • Thesis or Fieldwork
  • Smaller classes/More student interaction
  • Comprehensive Exams

Undergraduate School

  • Studies are more general in nature, less focused
  • Less collaboration with faculty and other students
  • Publication is rare and not expected
  • Thesis or fieldwork can happen, but it is not expected in every discipline
  • Finals come at the end of the semester, not at the end of the program

Readiness for Graduate School
Ask yourself: Am I ready?

  • Some disciplines lend themselves to graduate school
    • Example: Psychology and Sociology
  • Know your specific chosen career path
    • Attending graduate school should not be used as a way to delay getting a job
  • Are you financially able to afford it?
    • Working while attending
    • Federal Student Aid (complete the FAFSA!)
  • Consider the future outlook of your chosen profession
    • What type of degree is needed
    • What is the predictive job market
  • Prioritize life responsibilities
    • Usually, as a graduate student, you have more responsibilities (spouse, family, job)
    • Do you have enough invested interest in the subject to stick with it for two to six years?
  • Commitment and self-discipline are essential to doing well in graduate school
    • How do you want your life to look a few years after finishing your degree?

Evaluating Graduate Schools

  • Regional accreditation
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Professional organizations provide information on graduate studies, scholarships, career paths, licensure, and research opportunities

  • Peterson's Graduate and Professional Programs
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Library Association

Faculty Research

  • Journal Publications by faculty
  • Faculty reputation

Employment success of graduates

  • What is the percentages of graduates finding jobs in their field after graduation?

Course Selection

  • Breadth and depth


  • Library, computers, and other available technologies
  • Housing

Distance Education Programs
Application & Admissions Process
Application Packet

Personal Statement
Characteristics of Effective Personal Statements

  • Use your own voice
  • Reflect the passion you feel for the subject discipline that you're applying for
  • Your experience in the discipline thus far
  • What more you want to learn from the subject matter
  • What can the university offer you?
    • Are there specific professors there who you want to learn from?
  • If you tell a personal story, it must be related to the discipline you want to study?
    • i.e., personal experience with illness or poor healthcare leads one to want to study medicine
  • Impeccable grammar

Graduate Entrance Exams
Various entrance exams for graduate school

  • GRE
  • GMAT
  • LSAT
  • MCAT
  • Free Practice Tests for GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, DAT, OAT, and PCAT
  • >More Info

Financial Funding
Opportunities are available for funding your education!

  • Teacher's Assistant: Providing lectures and grading
    • It not only helps you financially, but it also gives teaching experience
    • Free tuition and modest monthly stipend
  • Graduate Fellowship
  • Loans
  • Employer Reimbursement

Graduate School Preparation Checklist (pdf)
Magoosh GRE Study Plans and Guides
Helpful Websites for Graduate School Funding Resources    
Federal Student Aid    
National Student Loan Data System     
Your Guide to Fellowships and Grants     
Summer Research Opportunities Program     
McNair Scholars Program

Helpful Websites for Writing Personal Statements
Purdue University's OWL: Writing the Personal Statement
Harvard University Personal Statement