Before deciding to begin the application process for graduate school, it may be helpful to read the information below and ask yourself questions when considering and pursuing the path to further your education:
Graduate School Facts and Statistics:
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2014, individuals who possessed a Master’s degree or higher (Professional, Doctoral, etc.) earn a median income of approximately $325 or more per week than individuals with a Bachelor’s degree. That is nearly $16,900 more per year!
- Depending on the school and program, your GPA may not be as important as the training you receive in the program. However, this is not a “free-pass” to skip the books and lectures. Your grade often depends on your ability apply the information and material you have received through reading and lecture and use it correctly in a clinical setting.
While graduate school provides a wealth of opportunities and experiences for your future, it is important to consider the time, effort, and other aspects involved when evaluating your future desires. Finding a program that meets your expectations is imperative when taking the necessary steps to further your education. Below are important factors to consider:
- Do the schools you are considering have the program(s) you wish to apply to and/or pursue?
- Does the field you are pursuing require or encourage graduate studies?
- Is the potential for advancement in your field greater with a graduate degree?
- Do you need to take extra coursework to complete the requirements listed by schools? Do you need to take specific standardized tests (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.)? Do you need to have a certain number of logged hours of volunteer or relevant experience in your desired field of interest? Do you need to write a personal statement? Is an interview required?
- Every school requires different criteria to be accepted into their programs. RESEARCH the requirements and inquire about any questions you may have.
- This is especially important when considering your coursework. Some programs require a certain number of credit hours, specific criteria for the course descriptions, and additional lab-work to be completed for the course to be accepted.
The Application Process
- Start the application process as early as possible.
- 16-24 months before deadlines: research programs and schools that interest you; compose your personal statement and goals (Contact Student Career Development staff for help with edits and recommendations).
- 13-16 months before deadlines: speak with faculty about your goals and programs; obtain references to write letters of recommendation; receive application and materials; take any standardized tests required for admission; finalize your résumé and/or your curriculum vitae (CVs).
- 9-12 months before deadlines: give reference-contacts information about yourself so they can write your recommendation; complete and mail/submit applications and transcripts; contact schools about financial aid information.
- Be sure to thank your recommenders and follow-up with schools to verify that they have received your application.
- Graduate School is expensive. Save up as much as you can before applying.
- Although fellowships and scholarships may be available as financial aid in some programs and schools, often times Graduate Students must take out (additional) student loans to pay for expenses.
- There are usually costs associated with the application process. Submitting applications/fees, taking standardized tests, sending your test scores, purchasing transcripts, and traveling for interviews are common expenses during this process. This may cost upward of $1,000—be sure to budget these expenses and save up!
- Tuition and Fees are often more expensive in Graduate School depending on the program. Students could be paying between $5,000-$30,000 in tuition and fees per year depending on the location of the school and whether the school is public or private.
- Is your program and school located in a location that appeals to you? Is the cost of living (housing, food, utilities, gas, etc.) appropriate for your budget? Are there opportunities to gain additional experience for your program?
- Consider a program and school that allows you to make the most of your experience as a Graduate Student. Research and visit the school’s location to find out if it is an appropriate match to your expectations.
- Faculty members may one day become your colleagues; it is important to note their credentials and work (experience, research, etc.) within their field and the program.
- Consider a program and school that you feel would enable you to develop positive relationships with the faculty and staff involved.
- The application process may last 9 months to 2 years depending on your deadlines, admission date, and how motivated you are to complete the entire process.
- Typically, graduate-level degrees can be obtained in several months to several years depending on the program.
- Some programs require you to take courses year-round (including summer!)
- Is your desired program accredited? Is the graduation rate high? Where do graduates seek and obtain employment?
- Research a school and its Graduate Programs in-depth to determine if their reputation matches your expectations.
- Graduate programs often require students to complete an extent (small or large) of research projects.
- Be sure the program, as well as the school, has sufficient resources through Library databases and facilities to ensure your projects are thorough and well-searched.
Facilities and Size
- If you desire a certain type of campus atmosphere and program environment in regards to class size and facilities available, conduct a search to indicate the average number of applicants a program accepts.
- The student-to-faculty ratio and the facilities available are important when considering your personal learning style and study habits.
- Does your desired school and program offer sufficient opportunities to network and gain additional experience in your desired field?
- Be polite and build positive relationships with EVERYONE you come in contact with during the application process and once you are admitted into a program. You never know who could help in landing you a career one day.
Graduate Programs at SSU!
Shawnee State University has several Graduate Programs that could spark an interest when furthering your education. Check them out!