Steps to Graduate & Professional School

Applying to graduate school is no easy task. It requires careful planning and consideration to make a sound financial and academic decision. Visit the Career Center website for more in-depth information regarding graduate school preparation and admissions. The considerations below can help you get started:


Start with, “Why?”

  • Is an advanced degree required to enter the particular profession you’re interested in or in order to advance within the field?
  • Do you have the financial resources or know of options to cover the cost of graduate school?
  • Are you burned out academically, and do you need to take time off?
  • Do you want to go to school full-time or part-time?

Compare reasons to attend graduate school.

Some good reasons to enroll in graduate school include:

  • Your career goal requires an advanced degree, such as being a professor, lawyer, or doctor.
  • You want to specialize in a subject that is important to you.
  • You want to advance in your career or change career directions.

Some bad reasons to enroll in graduate school include:

  • You don’t know what you want to do.
  • You don’t want to get a job, or you don’t think you can get a job (but you haven’t tried yet).
  • You want to postpone paying student loans.

Pro Tip

Contact the Career Center to explore post-collegiate alternatives and discuss if graduate school is right for you.

Research and select schools.

Consider all of the following when choosing a program:

  • Geographic location
  • Cost of program
  • Cost of living in program location
  • Duration of program
  • Areas of emphasis and certificate options
  • Accreditation
  • Courses
  • Faculty
  • Program and school's approach toward diversity and inclusion
  • Research opportunities
  • Practical field experiences/internships
  • Application process and requirements
  • Program deadlines
  • Job placement rates and career support
  • Availability of assistantships

Career Center Tips

Gap Year Options

If you are considering spending a year or more to gain experience before attending graduate school, you can review our "Gap Year Options" page for help considering your options. Alternatives to immediately pursuing a graduate degree include:

  • Intermediate education and skill development (e.g., certificate, credential, licensing, etc.)
  • Employment that offers relevant experience
  • Internships or volunteer positions in your field

Some organizations within certain industries may provide rewards or incentives related to graduate study after working for them for a set amount of time (e.g. non-profits or educational institutions). Consider sites like idealist.org or higheredjobs.com to broaden your search.