Graduate School FAQs
How do I find the best program?
When picking the best school, students should consider key criteria to narrow down their choices. Some aspects to consider include the area of specialization, location, ranking, cost, campus life, accreditation, and academic resources. For example, the U.S. News & World Report ranks Harvard University as the best business school. Determine whether the program offers any experience opportunities, such as assistantships or helping with research.
Where should I apply to graduate school?
Students should apply to graduate programs that offer their area of interest, considering the qualifications of departmental faculty and their expertise. Potential students should also research the format of the program, such as whether a program has a cohort model, requires a thesis, or allows students to attend part-time. Students can contact the school to gain more information, and it may be helpful to get in touch with actual students whose contact information can often be found on the website.
What are the requirements for graduation?
For master's degree programs, students are required to complete all core course requirements and a minimum amount of credits. Many programs require a thesis, written or oral examination, and practical experiences. For doctoral degrees, students must complete both the required courses and a dissertation/dissertation defense.
How much does graduate school cost?
In general, graduate school costs more per credit hour than undergraduate education. Many state institutions charge an average of $300 per credit for graduate courses, while private colleges and universities often charge more than $500 per credit. Students should look for financial aid opportunities, such as employer benefits or federal aid or grants. If classes are part-time, students may be able to work throughout the program.
Is financial aid available for graduate school?
There are a variety of financial aid opportunities available to graduate students, such as remission credits where tuition costs are defrayed, assistantships to help with teaching or research, graduate scholarships, graduate student loans, or fellowships. There are an array of financial aid resources available to graduate school hopefuls, and students should learn about them and apply for as many as possible.
What is a graduate fellowship?
Fellowships are similar to scholarships received for undergraduate education. They are generally awarded based on merit and provide funding for tuition and living stipends. The majority of fellowships do not require a commitment to work in return for the award. Fellowships are commonly awarded by academic programs, graduate schools, or outside organizations.
I don’t want to go to grad school right away. Should I tell my potential employer about my plans to go to grad school in the next year or two?
It depends. Some jobs are tailored for gap years and specifically state they are seeking someone who intends to work before attending graduate school. In that situation, you can share your plans without reservation. If that is not the case, and you volunteer that you plan to limit your time at your potential employment for any reason, you risk being ruled out of a job because the employer might be concerned about your longevity. And, if you did receive an offer, you may be limiting your potential for a raise or other advancement opportunities because the employer has limited incentive to reward your hard work or invest in your professional development.
You are obligated to answer a direct question truthfully. You are not obligated to answer a question you have not been asked. Remember that your plans and goals may shift over time, and thinking you’d like to apply to grad school is not the same as having been admitted.
What criteria determines admission into graduate school?
While admissions committees vary, graduate schools typically evaluate students based on undergraduate GPA scores as an indicator of how students will perform in the graduate program. Other factors include GRE or GMAT scores, because they provide insight into how applicants rank among their peers, and answers to essay questions and letters of recommendation, which help admissions committees gain a better understanding of an applicant as a person.
What is the typical workload for graduate school?
While graduate programs vary significantly, it is a common rule of thumb that graduate students should expect to spend four hours per week per credit hour of advanced courses. Many courses include reading assignments, papers, presentations, and extensive final examinations. Graduate courses often culminate in a capstone, thesis, or dissertation project.
What should I do if I’m waitlisted?
Being waitlisted means that you are considered qualified, but currently there is not enough room to accommodate you in the program. This is a great time to reflect on if the program truly meets your goals and you want to wait it out, or if you are willing to walk away. Before you decide, find out when they will finalize their admissions list, and if your financial aid will be impacted.
If you decide to continue your pursuit of this program, contact the admissions office to let them know you remain excited about the program. Keep them updated with new information that might enhance your appeal and stay in touch to express your continued interest. Schedule an appointment to discuss your waitlist strategy.
When should I ask for letters of recommendation if I am planning a gap year?
Before you graduate and while you are still fresh in their mind! Follow proper etiquette about asking for a letter of recommendation, let your professor know about your gap year plans and ask them how they would like to proceed. It would be best to have the letter written at the same time as your application, so plan to keep in touch with your professor. If needed, use a site like Interfolio to store the letter until you are ready to submit.
Should I retake the GRE or GMAT if I am not happy with the score?
It depends. Was there a mitigating factor which affected your performance such as being sick or dealing with an unexpected emergency? Do you have a plan to improve or change your preparation? Only retake your entrance exam if you have a reason to believe that your score will improve and you are convinced that your current score will negatively impact your application. Refer to the Magoosh Decision tree and schedule an appointment before making your decision.
What is the difference between a Personal Statement and a Statement of Purpose?
The title of the essay will vary from school to school (Personal Statement, Statement of Purpose, Personal Essay). The title is not important; the prompt is key to properly prepare your essay to address the subject the school is seeking. Be sure to read the directions on each school’s application. Most important is to follow the instructions given to you by each particular program.
Should I write an addendum essay?
Writing an addendum essay is a good idea if there is an aspect of your application that may cause the Admissions Office to question whether or not you will be able to succeed in their program. Some reasons include a low grade in one particular class, a semester where you encountered difficulties that affected your grades, or an entrance exam that does not reflect your academic abilities.
This essay should be one page at maximum and focus on explanation rather than excuses. Speak with a Hiatt counselor to help consider if you should write an addendum essay, and to have your essay reviewed.
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