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How Should Graduate School Plans Affect Your College Major?

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Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Graduate school plans can play a large role in choosing a college major. In this lesson, we'll examine what graduate school is and how plans to attend grad school can affect major choices in two different scenarios.

Major & Grad School

Ari and his friend, Buddy, just finished their first year of college. They are both thinking about what major they should pick. A student's major is the course of study they follow in college. For example, Ari is thinking about being a history major, and he wants to go to law school after college to become a lawyer.

Law school is one of many types of graduate schools, or grad school, which is higher education beyond the bachelor's degree. For students like Ari, this means law school or medical school, which both results in a professional degree.

For other students, a master's or doctoral degree is what they go to grad school to pursue. For example, Buddy isn't sure what he wants to do, but he thinks that he might want to go to grad school and get a master's degree in business.

How does grad school affect the major you choose? Let's look closer at what Ari and Buddy, and students like them, should do if they know they'll be attending grad school, and if they aren't sure if they will or not.

If You Know

Ari knows for sure that he's going to attend graduate school. He wants to be a lawyer, and he's making sure that he's taking all the courses that law schools recommend he take in order to be ready. There's no doubt in his mind that he will end up in grad school.

If you know that you'll be attending graduate school after college, it's a good idea to plan ahead and choose your major wisely. Most grad school programs admit students from many different majors, so even if a student, like Ari, knows that he will end up in law school, he still has many choices to make about his major.

When choosing a major, Ari, and students like him, should first find a major that is aligned with graduate school. For example, many law students were history, political science or English majors in college. Ari might want to choose a major from one of those.

After finding a major that is aligned with graduate school, Ari will want to make sure that the major still offers flexibility. For example, if Ari is an English major, he can still do many things after college: he can teach, work for a publishing house, be a writer or many other things. On the other hand, he might be more limited with a major that is only about pre-law.

In addition to his major, though, Ari will also want to take classes outside his major to fulfill requirements for grad school. If Ari decides to be a history major instead of an English major, he might still need to take many English classes to fulfill the requirements to get into law school. So, even after choosing his major, he may still want to branch out somewhat, depending on graduate school requirements.

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