Graduate and Professional school overview
If you don’t get accepted, talk to a career coach to determine the reasons you may have not been accepted, to revisit your goals, and to strategize a new plan. Don’t give up--many students are accepted on their second, third, and even fourth tries after gaining more relevant experience.
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Common Graduate Degrees
Graduate school provides for specialized study in an academic discipline. The two common degrees offered are the Masters of Arts/Masters of Science (MA/MS) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The MA/MS is normally a 2-3 year program, which includes coursework and either a comprehensive examination, thesis, or practical experience. The Ph.D. may take 4-10 years to complete (depending on the discipline) and the focus is on independent, original research. In addition to these academic graduate degrees, there are professional degrees such as the MBA, MD, and JD.
Components of the Application
Components of the Application
Most graduate school applications require the following:
- Application – online or hard copy
- Personal statement (statement of purpose)
- Letters of recommendation - normally three are required
- Transcripts – required for all schools attended after high school
- Test scores – GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, etc.
- Resume or CV – for some programs
- Portfolio – for art programs, journalism, film, etc.
- Financial aid forms
Most application deadlines fall between December and February of the preceding year (professional programs such as medical and law school have earlier dates), however, leave plenty of time to research programs and gather application materials (16 months is recommended). The following is a guideline:
|Spring:||Assess whether graduate/professional school is right for you
Research programs by talking with faculty
Open a Graduate Reference Letter Service file (GRLS) if appropriate
Take a free practice GRE (sponsored by the Career Center-check web site for dates)
|Summer:||Continue to research programs; read research articles, narrow choices
Collect graduate admission materials from programs
Register for the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.
Begin studying for the entrance exam (take a prep course if needed)
|Take the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.
Request letters of recommendation from faculty
Apply to programs
Draft personal statement (have faculty and career adviser review)
Apply for financial aid
|Decide on area of study by:||___________||Order transcripts by:||___________|
|Select programs by:||___________||Begin work on statement
of purpose/essays by:
|Request information from
|___________||Take drafts to faculty for
review and critique by:
|Take a practice test for
GRE or equivalent on:
|___________||Approach letter writers by:
*Deadline for letter writers
|Take a prep course or study
|___________||Open GRLS file (optional):||___________|
|Take GRE or equivalent on:||___________||Fill out and complete
*These deadlines should be well in advance of the actual application deadline so you have time to follow-up and make sure they've completed the letters.
Introspective Research to Select a Clear Career Goal
The reason for attending graduate and professional school is to prepare for a specific career. Clarity about this is essential for a strong application, including a strong statement of purpose! Knowing your own values, skills, interests and work characteristics is crucial to choosing which fields and programs to pursue. Without this self-awareness, it will be more difficult to make your decisions and complete a program once you're facing the demands of graduate study! If you need assistance, come in for drop-in advising. You can use the Career Center's Career Advice Network (CAN) to find UCSC alumni who work in the fields which interest you. The Career Center library is a good resource to help you clarify your career objective.
Researching External Resources to Select a Degree and Programs
|Resources for finding out about grad schools and grad school programs:|
|Topics to research:|
|Questions to ask of faculty or students in the programs that interest you:|