Question: “I’m considering graduate school, but don’t know where to start. Can you help?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Earning an advanced graduate degree is a great way to further hone your skills, advance your current career or as a tool to make a career change, and almost always as a way to increase your marketability and your salary potential. Graduate school, however, is a major commitment of time, money, and emotions. Most graduate programs will require at least one year (if not longer) of intense work.
So, where should you begin your graduate school journey? By answering these five questions.
- Why are you considering graduate school? Are you looking to further your career? Make a career change? Make more money? Be sure you do all the research before leaping into a graduate program. Make sure that a graduate degree will provide you with the leverage you need to get what you want. You’ll also want to make sure you have selected the correct graduate program, with all the right degree offerings, credentials, and accreditation.
- When should you consider obtaining a graduate degree? Should you leap into a graduate program immediately following your undergraduate program? Should you wait a few years and get work experience first? Should you try to continue working full-time while working on your graduate degree? Make sure you talk with mentors and industry experts before making such a major decision.
- What’s the best graduate degree for you? There are so many new and hybrid graduate degrees being introduced that you really need to take the time to research the best graduate degree to suit for short- and long-term career plans. For some careers, a master’s degree is sufficient for advancement, while in others a doctoral is required.
- What’s the best graduate school/program for you? As the U.S. becomes a more and more educated society, graduate programs continue to spring up everywhere, including both traditional and distance-learning programs. Numerous criteria can help you evaluate programs, such as reputation, costs/financial aid, career assistance, culture, faculty, location, resources, size, and more.
- Can you afford graduate school? Unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll want to take a long hard look at the total costs of graduate school — tuition, housing, fees (library, activity, research, lab, etc.), textbooks, etc. If you are not working while attending graduate school, you’ll also need to factor in the loss in wages. If you are working, you may be able to get some or all of graduate school reimbursed by your employer. And many graduate schools offer fellowships and scholarships.
Learn more in our article, Considering Graduate School? Answer These Five Questions Before You Decide.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
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Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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