About Grad School
Graduate school is important. While a bachelor’s degree provides you with a platform to enter the professional world, it is a graduate degree that makes you an expert in your field. Many students find 1-2 years (medical and law schools take longer) of grad school to be more enriching, demanding and challenging than 4 years of undergraduate studies.
The decision regarding attending a grad school is not an easy one to make; you need to prioritize, pre-plan and start preparing well in advance. Make sure that you know exactly what you want; set personal and professional goals and evaluate the prospective degree in accordance with them. Give due consideration to the costs associated with attending a grad school. Make no mistake, grad school is extremely demanding and may also mean lost income for you. Before short-listing your prospective schools and starting the application process, acquire information about the schools. Graduate schools are likely to have different deadlines and requirements, which need to be kept in mind when choosing a program.
Grad School Admission Guidelines
Although the admission requirements vary across programs and schools, there are some basic requirements that apply to most grad school programs. These include:
· A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university
· A satisfactory academic record; usually a minimum of 3.0 CGPA on the 4.0 scale
· Adequate undergraduate training to commence the grad program of your choice
· International students may also need to present proof of proficiency in English language; this is done by scoring above a minimum range in the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
It is important to note that the fulfillment of the minimum criteria does not guarantee admission; there are various other factors that come into play while deciding your eligibility for the program. Most grad schools require their applicants to take a standardized test like the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT. In order to learn about the test relevant to your desired program, you will have to contact the admissions office of the grad school you are applying to, or visit its website. Some of these tests are offered year-round, so look up their dates well in advance so you can enroll in the relevant preparatory courses in time.
Another important requirement for grad school programs is the submission of two to three letters of recommendation. These are to be written by your previous instructors, mentors or employers in order to provide the school with information regarding your personality, professional skills, intellectual ability and aptitude in research. Most schools also require you to write a personal statement or essay, which is evaluated alongside your academic records.
Lastly, there is a mandatory application fee that you are required to submit along with your application. This also varies across grad schools and different programs.
Financial Aid for Grad Schools
Graduate studies require serious commitment. Graduate degrees are challenging and expensive, especially if you have decided to enroll in a private university. However, just as in undergraduate studies, financial aid may also be offered to those graduate students who qualify.
In addition to the federal student aid in the form of grants and loans, eligible graduate students may also apply for scholarships, exclusively reserved for them. Eligible PhD students may be offered financial aid in the form of tuition waiver and stipend. However, not every graduate student will qualify for a financial aid package. To maximize your chances of becoming a financial aid recipient, contact your school’s financial aid office.