Why Go To Graduate School and When Does Graduate School Make Sense?

Students earning their graduate degree often do so to advance to positions of higher responsibility within their field or work, or to increase their salary potential. However, others may seek to earn their graduate degree to simply further their subject knowledge without a specific career in mind.

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There are a variety of reasons why students may want to enroll in graduate school. There are also many graduate degree options available.

When It Makes Sense to Earn a Graduate Degree

Overall, students should base their decision on whether or not to earn a graduate degree upon their career and educational goals. Many professionals, including doctors, professors and pharmacists, require graduate education. A graduate degree may also increase salary potential, especially in the field of business. Another reason to attend graduate school is to get a more thorough education than the one provided during a bachelor's degree, which may better prepare students for future career success. Advanced studies can also lead to an academic job in teaching or research.

Depending on their career goals, undergraduates may want to keep graduate school in mind as an option. However, when it comes time to apply, it is important for students to make sure that the program is consistent with their future goals. Students without concrete goals should defer entering graduate school until they have set goals in mind.

Master's Degrees

There are a variety of master's degree options available in a wide range of topics. Here are some of the options, along with subjects in which students can choose a major or concentration:

  • Master of Arts
    • English
    • Philosophy
    • History
  • Master of Fine Arts
    • Painting
    • Creative Writing
  • Master of Business Administration
    • Marketing
    • Accounting
  • Master of Science
    • Computer Engineering
    • Microbiology
    • Chemistry

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  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral degrees are the highest graduate degree a student can earn. Students can earn a research-focused Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree or a professional degree that provides specific career preparation, like a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. A PhD in a subject like English or philosophy usually takes five or more years beyond a bachelor's degree to complete. Graduates typically work as professors in university settings or as professional researchers. MD degrees prepare graduates for work as licensed healthcare physicians. This degree requires four years of academic study past a bachelor's degree. Graduates must fulfill residency requirements before they can start their careers.

Choosing a Graduate School

All universities, though not all colleges, offer graduate programs. Students may want to conduct research beforehand, not just on where it'd be convenient for them to take their graduate studies, but which competitive schools offer the degree subject they may be looking for. Students may find master's degree program rankings in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings. The Princeton Review also provides valuable graduate school information.

Students who need graduate training in order to fulfill their career goals should enroll in master's or doctoral degree programs, depending on their future objectives.

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