What Are Graduate Programs and Should You Apply?
Higher academic standards than those required of undergraduates must be met by graduate students, according to experts. Additionally, they require a sense of direction, focus, and desire to succeed in graduate school.
Michelle Vakman, the admissions director at the New York-based Columbia University School of Professional Studies, stated in an email that graduate school is much more concentrated and specialized than college. “Students rarely switch their majors, and classes are focused on a particular field or area of study.”
Graduate programs draw students who are motivated to pursuing careers in fields where a graduate degree is useful and who are enthralled by a particular academic subject, according to experts.
“The main difference between undergrad and grad school is that the student has an opportunity to focus on the subjects he (or she) enjoys the most,” wrote Helen Godfrey, a senior career development specialist with a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, in an email. “The coursework is more demanding, but the student will find that he or she really enjoys the topics, so it can be an energizing challenge,”
According to Tamara Underiner, an associate dean for professional development and engagement at the Arizona State University Graduate College, graduate students are expected to do more than just take in information and learn new things. They are also expected to conduct their own research, come up with novel discoveries, and create compelling scholarship.
Underiner stated in an email that “in college you learn.” In higher education, as you go through the levels, you master a subject before turning into a knowledge creator. The development of wisdom is facilitated by this expanding sense of agency and experience.
Are Graduate Studies Right for You? What to Consider
This form of advanced education is not suitable for everyone, despite the fact that it can be rewarding and helpful.
Jillene Seiver, a senior lecturer in psychology and associate chair in the school of psychology at Eastern Washington University, wrote in an email, “If a student is not sure what they want to do, graduate school is probably not a wise idea, because it does not provide opportunities for career exploration like the bachelor’s degree does.”
It may be difficult for people to bear the demands of graduate school if they found the intellectual workload of their bachelor’s degree courses to be very difficult. But college alums who succeeded in their undergraduate studies frequently have a love of learning that can make them a good fit for a graduate program, say higher education experts.
Before submitting an application to graduate school, people—even those who did well in college—should consider if a graduate degree will advance their careers.
Jody Britten, a co-founder of SheLeadsEdu, an organization that offers career guidance and training to women working in the education sector, believes that having a sense of purpose is essential for success in graduate school.
Graduate students are most successful “when they know what they are very passionate about…. if they’re going to grad school because they feel like they need to go to grad school or they don’t know what they’re going to do or they just want a pay raise, that’s when it doesn’t pay off,” says Britten, who has a Ph.D. in education. We don’t see them finishing their degrees at that point, she said.
Which Graduate Programs Come in Which Forms?
There are several graduate credentials available, some of which are simple to earn and others of which take a long time.
Occasionally, universities will offer postbaccalaureate certifications and diplomas that can be earned without earning a degree and can be finished in a matter of months. Master’s programs, on the other hand, typically last for several years of study and last at least one academic year.
A master’s program of study expands on the knowledge acquired via a bachelor’s. Since the doctoral degree is normally the most prestigious degree offered within an academic field, a master’s degree usually comes before one.
Dr. degrees come in two varieties. Applying knowledge to solve problems in the real world and preparing future business leaders are the main foci of applied doctorates. Research doctorates prepare future academics while addressing unanswered topics in a specific field of study.
According to Pierre Huguet, CEO of the admissions consulting business H&C Education, “Graduate school can mean many things.” There is a significant distinction between beginning an M.S. or M.A. program, enrolling in law or business school, and commencing the five- to seven-year odyssey that is a Ph.D.
Following are a few graduate degree examples along with an approximate duration for full-time programs:
one to two years for a master’s in science, or M.S.
One to two years for a master’s in arts, or M.A.
two years for an MBA, or master of business administration.
two to three years for a master’s in fine arts, or MFA
Degree: three years for a Juris Doctor (J.D.
Four years are needed to get a doctor of medicine, or M.D.
degree: six years for a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.)
Occasionally, the phrase “terminal” is used to designate degrees, but the context determines how the term should be used. In general, the term “terminal” refers to a degree that certifies mastery of a particular subject and is generally the highest academic degree offered in a discipline. There is agreement among specialists that doctorates qualify, even though they occasionally dispute on which degrees fit within this category.
When a degree is referred to as “terminal,” though, it may just mean that it represents the end of a student’s academic career or that it may do so in the future.
Graduate study and employment
For some occupations, having a graduate degree is required or extremely advantageous.
Huguet explains that you must continue your education after college if you wish to pursue a career in medicine or law, for instance. “Aside from that, some post-graduate courses, like MBAs, frequently give students crucial networking opportunities that can be just as crucial professionally as the training they receive in business school. A Ph.D. is almost always required if you wish to work in academia or do advanced research.
Graduate study isn’t always the best option for “natural entrepreneurs,” according to Huguet. “I have a lot of friends who started lucrative enterprises in college and decided to go into business for themselves full-time after graduation. Graduate degrees, in my opinion, are a time and financial waste for people of this type.
Prior to submitting an application to grad schools, prospective graduate students should carefully consider their career objectives, advises Huguet. Start by considering the type of career you want to pursue, and then conduct some research to find out what sorts of degrees are required for your ideal position. Advanced degrees can often lead to higher incomes and better jobs even when they are not strictly necessary.
Prospective PhD students must to evaluate the employment situation in the area where they might pursue their research as well.
For instance, Huguet claims that a Ph.D. in biology can open up more career prospects than one in German literature. If you want to teach German at the college level, get a Ph.D., but be aware that it might not be very useful outside of academia.
When Compared to College, How Does Graduate School Compare?
That graduate school is comparable to undergraduate study is a frequent misunderstanding. But according to experts in higher education, graduate programs tend to emphasize independent learning more than undergraduate ones.
Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University in California and an adjunct professor at Stanford University in California, says that too many college students or people who have only attended college somehow believe that graduate school will be more of the same. It will have a completely new appearance. Students may be sick of taking tests and doing other things while sitting on cramped plastic chairs in vast lecture halls listening to lecturers drone on, but they may not be aware that graduate school is frequently nothing like that.