Should You Enter a Doctoral Program or a Master’s Degree Program?

The answer depends on the area in which you hope to specialize and your own purpose for pursuing graduate study. If your primary goal is to teach at a college or be involved in high level research, than a doctoral program is for you.

In making this decision, consider these points:

  • It is better to apply directly for a doctoral program because it increases your chances of acceptance.
  • Acceptance into a doctoral program may require more specific research/thesis goals than you may be prepared to describe at this time.
  • Completion of a master’s program may enable you to be accepted into a doctoral program in an area that is different from your undergraduate study.
  • Successful performance in a master’s program may be useful if your undergraduate record is something less than convincing for admission to a doctoral program.
  • A terminal master’s program may be all that you need to achieve your career goals.

Should You Go Right Away or Postpone Attending Grad School?

The answer depends on your motivation and what you are interested in studying. Some professional programs require that you have work experience before they will accept you. In these situations, employer recommendations and the type of work experience you gain can compensate for a weak GPA. Other programs may prefer that you attend right after you earn your bachelor’s degree.

As you begin to research programs, you will become aware of what is the norm for your field. Drew professors are an invaluable source of information in this area.

If you are unsure about what you want to study, are being pressured to go to graduate school, or are going because you don’t know what else to do, then it is advisable to wait.

What About Going Part-time?

The number of part-time graduate programs at the master’s degree level has increased. If this option is available, it will be described in the graduate school bulletin. Usually, these are professional and terminal degree programs.

You are probably aware that many employers offer tuition benefits for graduate study on a part-time basis.

For most Ph.D. programs, going full-time is the more common approach. While it is possible to complete advanced work on a part-time basis, and in some cases this may be necessary for you, be warned that spreading this work out over years requires extraordinary patience and commitment.