Graduate and professional schools can be a satisfying and often necessary way to pursue career goals or learn more about an area of interest. If you have given yourself wholeheartedly to a particular subject, have a strong academic record, and feel you can maintain the motivation for another 2-6 years of academic work, you should consider graduate school.
1. Know your career goals. Seek career counseling at SCS if you are unsure what area or degree to pursue. Check out the SCS Career Exploration Library. Talk to your professors and advisor.
2. Ask faculty which programs they recommend and their reasons for recommending - remember their selection criteria may be different from yours.
3. Familiarize yourself with the current research in your interest area. Where are the people who are publishing interesting work? If you identify particular people you wish to work with, call or e-mail them to find out if they will be accepting new students to their lab, and whether your personalities match. It is often better to choose a prestigious person or program rather than a prestigious university.
4. Find information and application on the university website.
5. After receiving an application and more detailed information, find out what resources are available. Talk or e-mail with current students about their experiences to see how you would fit in. Ask about degree requirements, how long it takes to complete the program, and how major advisors are selected.
6. Find out about funding opportunities such as teaching, administrative or research assistantships. Assistantships are usually 20 hour a week jobs for which you may receive a salary, tuition waiver, or reduced tuition. Fellowships are outright grants of money, and are sometimes renewable for more than one year. You can research sources for national fellowships in the SCS library.
For more information on applying to graduate school, click here for the Application guidelines [PDF].
Applications to graduate and professional school often require a personal or autobiographical statement. Although your grades and test scores are probably more important criteria for acceptance, your personal statement can influence whether you are considered a valuable candidate for the program.
For more information on how to write your graduate school application essay, click on this PDF file.