Graduate School Guide.
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with an overview of what is involved in the graduate school decision. Hopefully, as you continue to read the sections of this guide, many of your questions about going to graduate school will be answered. The Center for Internships and Career Development counselors and the Drew faculty are more than willing to share their knowledge and insights about programs with you.
For more information and resources, contact the Center for Internships and Career Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-408-3710.
Graduate degrees are either professional or research degrees earned at the doctoral or master’s level.
The Research/Academic/Graduate Degree focuses on in-depth study in a particular area.
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest academic degree. It requires the completion of course work as well as an original research project under the direction of a major professor. The candidate is trained to do research which results in the discovery of new knowledge, insight, or ways of doing things.
Admission to a Ph.D. program usually requires a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field. Sometimes, attaining a master’s degree first can be a way to prepare for the Ph.D. especially in a field that is significantly different or more specialized than your undergraduate degree.
First two to three years involves:
The next two to three years involves:
In general, it takes about one to three years of full-time study to complete a master’s degree. Master’s degrees can be earned in most fields. The emphasis in these programs of study is research and scholarship. Writing a thesis and/or taking comprehensive examinations is usually required. This degree can prepare you for a position of greater responsibility in your field than if you had the bachelor’s degree alone. The degree can be an M.A. (Master of Arts) or an M.S. (Master of Science.) This may be a final degree or be a step toward the Ph.D.
In deciding on a degree program, take into account that courses in a master’s degree program are not always accepted by a doctoral program at another institution.
The Professional Degree leads to the development of skills necessary for a career in a specific field, such as medicine, law, education, pharmacy, journalism, nursing, social work, or business administration.
These programs of study provide you with specific knowledge and skills to qualify or enhance your qualifications for a particular profession. You will probably be required to do some type of fieldwork or internship. In many cases, the professional master’s degree is all that is needed to enter a certain field and is frequently the highest degree in this field, for example, in social work, the M.S.W; in fine arts, the M.F.A.; in library science, the M.L.S.
The answer depends on the area in which you hope to specialize and your purpose for pursuing graduate study.
Advantages to Continuing Your Education Immediately After Drew:
Advantages to Postponing Continued Education:
Part-time study can be a good option for many people. Some master’s programs are offered online. However, most Ph.D. programs are full-time.
During the application process, you’ll need to think about:
The more you know yourself and the more you understand what you want from the graduate school experience, the easier it will be to identify programs that are right for you!
If you would like to meet with a Career Counselor to discuss the process and all your options, contact the Center for Internships and Career Development to schedule an appointment at email@example.com or 973-408-3710.
Since there are so many institutions that offer graduate degrees, locating the program that is right for you will take time and research.Consider factors such as: the scope and focus of programs, enrollment, size of the institution, and geographic location.Gather all the information you need by late spring of junior year (preferably no later than the summer before your senior year).
Here are suggestions to help you develop a tentative list of graduate programs. These are all useful sources of information and can provide direction for your decision.
When you have defined your areas of interest and made a preliminary list of institutions, get recommendations from Drew faculty, Drew alumni and recent Drew graduates.
Drew faculty – Meet with as many faculty members in your related field as possible.
Speaking with faculty members can:
Recent graduates – Graduates who are attending programs in your field of interest can provide you with insight about the realities of these programs.
Drew alumni – Alumni and other professionals who are currently working in the field are aware of the reputations of these programs.
NOTE: Graduate School advisement is a collaborative process at Drew. Use all of the resources available to you.
Requirements will vary from institution to institution and from program to program so read all the applications carefully and consider:
What do you hope to accomplish?
Are you interested in a particular area of research?
Do you need a specific credential to enter your future career?
How does each program fit your:
What do they look for in candidates? Do you meet these basic prerequisites? If not, what can you do?
Faculty are an extremely important factor because as you do your graduate research, you will be working closely with and monitored by the faculty. Consider:
If possible, visit the institution and speak with faculty members, currently enrolled students, and admissions and financial aid officers to get first-hand answers to your questions.
The number of schools you should apply to will depend on your own qualifications and the type of programs you are trying to enter. To narrow down your list:
Although applications are sent to the admissions office, usually a committee of faculty in the specific department makes the decision to accept a candidate into a graduate program. The application process is time consuming and detailed so, try to:
Admission and application requirements will vary for different graduate programs and institutions. Be sure to carefully review requirements for each individual program.
A complete application usually includes:
|The application||Submitted by you; Usually online|
|Application fee||You may be eligible for a waiver|
|A personal statement||Prepared and submitted by you|
|Transcripts||Request from Registrars’ Office; Registrar will submit to schools|
|Financial Aid application||Submitted by you. Deadline may be earlier than application deadline.|
|Letters of recommendation||Request from recommenders; Recommenders will submit to schools|
|Standardized test scores||Submitted directly by ETS or testing organizations|
Application deadlines will vary with each institution. Most are between January and March, but some are earlier. Many schools have a rolling admissions policy and will act on applications as they are received.
There are some important reasons to submit your applications early:
Scores on the required graduate admissions tests are definitely a factor that is considered in determining your acceptance into a graduate program. For some schools, only students with a certain minimal score will be given further consideration. Other programs look at the total background of candidates. Most programs will require you to take the GRE general test and some will also require a GRE subject test. Check websites for required testing and be sure to take these tests as early as possible.
The GRE has both verbal and mathematics sections as well as two essays. Specific subject area tests are also required by many universities. They are generally offered only a few times per year.
GRE scores are valid for five years, so you may want to take the tests even if you are not applying for acceptance immediately after Drew graduation.
If you are currently receiving need-based financial aid, you may qualify for a GRE fee reduction. Usually, you will need a letter from the Drew financial aid office confirming your eligibility.
Information about the tests, scoring, administration, fees, and fee waivers is all available from: Educational Testing Service at www.ets.org
Preparation can improve your test scores. Don’t take an actual standardized test just for practice as all scores may be reviewed by future graduate schools. Take practice tests online and/or through test preparations centers.
Consider a preparation course or a tutor particularly if you have anxiety about this kind of testing or your undergraduate curriculum did not include many quantitative courses.
Test scores are weighted differently by different programs and different universities, but scores ARE very important. Be sure that you are well prepared before you take the tests.
A special note for international students: Graduate schools require an indication of competency in English. This can be demonstrated by a satisfactory score on the TOEFL exam.
Do not underestimate the importance of the application form! Review the entire application form before completing it. Gather all the information you need and review it very carefully again before submitting it.
Often called a personal statement, essay or answers to specific questions, the personal essay is your opportunity to present yourself as an excellent candidate for a particular graduate program. It’s a critical part of your application because it gives the admissions committee a sense of who you are and what you have to offer.
Each institution will ask you to follow a specific essay format or will ask you to respond to questions. Although you may already have a general statement prepared, be sure to tailor each essay to that particular program.
Use your essay to show:
When writing your essay, remember to:
Not everyone is the perfect candidate for every graduate program. You may have lower grades or test scores that the institution requires. Or, perhaps you’re lacking a related experience.
When considering those negatives factors:
Be sure to have your essay reviewed by several readers. The Center for Internships and Career Development, the Writing Center, and individual faculty in your discipline can all help you.
Your official transcript is an important part of your applications to show your GPA as well as the type of courses you have taken. Your transcript is carefully reviewed to see if you have the potential to be successful and if you have taken the required courses necessary for admission to the graduate program. You will need to submit official transcripts from all undergraduate schools you have attended, even those for summer courses. Transcripts are obtained from the Registrar’s Office in each of the schools.
Most graduate schools require three letters of recommendation.
Choose tenured professors in whose courses you have done well and have demonstrated your potential for independent thinking. Generally they should be professors in your future field of study. Choose people who know you personally and who are aware of your work, goals, and academic abilities. Of course choose people who have a high opinion of you!
Your recommenders should have an understanding of the field you are pursuing and be able to compare you with other students who have had similar goals. It is suggested that you sign the waiver of your right to see the letter of recommendation. The confidentiality factor increases the weight the letter carries as part of the application.
If you pursue graduate study in such areas as art, architecture, or journalism, you may be required to submit a portfolio of your work as part of your application.
Graduate programs in music, theater and dance often require you to audition as part of the application process.
Prepare for the graduate school interview the same as you would prepare for a job interview. At the interview, you should be able to:
General questions that the interviewer may ask you may include:
They will expect you to have questions as well. Your questions will demonstrate your interest in the program, your analytical and inquisitive mind, and of course your personality and interpersonal skills.
It’s a good idea to formulate answers to sample questions and practice your responses out loud.
Typical questions that are often asked at interviews:
Questions that you might want to ask the interviewer:
This will vary from program to program. Your GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, undergraduate course of study, the reputation of our school, as well as your essay, extra-curricular activities and work experience will be weighed differently by the various institutions and programs.
Besides celebrating with your family and friends, call and advise the Office of Admissions as soon as possible about your plans to attend the program. Follow up with a formal note of acceptance.
If you have been accepted to an institution that you do not plan on attending, contact the school and let them know. You may be allowing another student the opportunity to attend that school.
During the “waiting to hear period” of January through March, take time to consider other options in the event that you are not accepted into your desired programs or you choose to defer admission.
Applying for jobs is an option. The Center for Internships and Career Development is happy to advise you and help you apply for positions.
It is important to be prepared for the possibility of being rejected. A change in a program’s direction or funding, cut-backs in staffing, or an increase in the number of applicants for a program can all account for not being accepted.
If you still want to pursue graduate school in the future, then take the time to reassess your credentials and evaluate how you can improve them. Speak with your faculty advisor or a career counselor to help you determine a new course of action.
Some common reasons that candidates are rejected:
If your GPA was the factor that prevented you from getting into the program, you may want to consider:
Assistantships are the most common form of graduate student support. They are usually sponsored by the university. Deadlines for applying for assistantships are often earlier than for normal admission. In some cases, graduate schools limit the number of acceptances they offer to the number of candidates they can support through assistantships. If you are awarded an assistantship, you will incur minimal debt for your graduate work.
Teaching Assistantships generally provide tuition benefits and a stipend in exchange for helping to teach undergraduate courses, grading papers, leading discussion sections, proctoring exams or monitoring laboratories. Besides providing financial aid, a teaching assistantship can be a major way to gain university teaching experience.
Research Assistantships provide tuition benefits and a stipend in exchange for assisting professors with a research project.
Most universities will award fellowships on the basis of merit and department recommendation. These usually cover tuition and provide a stipend. Additional fellowships and scholarships are sponsored by outside governmental or private agencies such as foundations, corporations, or professional organizations.
Students can learn about loans from the Financial Aid Office at the university and through the U.S. or individual State Departments of Education.
For the advanced planner, you can begin your graduate school search preparation by taking these steps:
As you know, your schedule will be very busy once you are back on campus. A head start will be very helpful.
Note: The competitiveness of programs and rolling admissions policies will determine how much time you really have!