Graduate School FAQsStudents who are considering pursing an advanced degree at the graduate degree level generally seek the answer to a variety of questions to understand what to expect in graduate school. Attending graduate school is both a costly and time-consuming endeavor and students may feel overwhelmed and nervous about advanced education. Nearly all of the questions a particular individual asks have most likely been asked by other prospective graduate students, whether it is about admissions, tuition, financial aid, or workload. While we have answered some basic questions on our home page, discussed below are the top 10 questions and answers regarding graduate school.

Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate School

1. When Should I Attend Graduate School?

Graduate school is appropriate for students of all ages and life stages. Some students attend graduate school right after finishing their undergraduate degree, while others enter the workforce and pursue graduate education after many years. The most important thing is attending graduate school when a student is ready to get the most out of the experience.

2. Where Should I Apply to Graduate School?

Students should apply to graduate programs that offer their areas of interest. They should consider the qualifications of faculty and their expertise in the area of interest. Students can contact the school to gain more information about certain programs and it may be helpful to get in touch with actual students.

3. How Do I Find the Best Graduate School?

When picking the best school, students should consider key criteria to narrow down their choices. Some aspects to consider include the area of specialization, location, ranking, cost, campus life, accreditation, ranking and academic resources. For example the U.S. News and World Report ranks Harvard University as the best business school.

4. What Criteria Determines Admission into Graduate School?

While all admissions committees vary, generally graduate schools evaluate students based on undergraduate grade point average as an indicator of how students will perform in the graduate program; GRE or GMAT scores because they provide insight of how applicants rank with their peers; and answers to essay questions and letters of recommendation to gain a better understanding of an applicant as a person.

5. How Should I Submit my Application Materials?

The majority of graduate programs require students to submit unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and essays either by mail or electronically. If a school requests official transcripts and standardized test scores, students must contact previous institutions and testing organizations for the documents to be mailed directly to the graduate school.

6. What is the Typical Work Load for Graduate School?

While graduate programs vary significantly, it is a common rule of thumb that graduate students should expect to spend four hours per week per credit hour of advanced courses. Many courses include reading assignments, papers, presentations, and extensive final examinations.

7. How Much Does Graduate School Cost?

In general, graduate school costs more per credit hour than undergraduate education. Many state institutions charge an average of $300 per credit hour for graduate courses, while private colleges and universities often charge more than $500 per credit hour. For example, Temple University charges $687 per credit hour to Pennsylvania residents.

8. Is Financial Aid Available for Graduate Education?

There are a variety of financial aid opportunities available for graduate students, such as remission credits where tuition costs are defrayed, assistantships to assist with teaching or research, graduate scholarships, graduate student loans, or fellowships. They are an array of sources for graduate school financial aid and students should learn about them and apply for as many as possible.

9. What is a Graduate Fellowship?

Fellowships are similar to scholarships received for undergraduate education. They are generally awarded by a competition and provide funding for scholarships as well as living stipends. Majority of fellowships do not require a commitment to work in return for the award. Fellowships are commonly awarded by academic programs, graduate schools, or outside organizations.

10. What are the Requirements for Graduation?

For master's degree programs students are required to complete all core course requirements and a minimum amount of credit hours. Many programs require a thesis, written or oral examination, and practical experiences. For doctorate degrees, students must complete the required courses as well as extensive research for a dissertation and engage in a defense of that dissertation.

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