Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate School
Students considering an advanced degree usually have many questions about how to apply to programs and 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 they are about admissions, tuition, financial aid, or a typical student workload. Below are our top 10 questions and answers regarding graduate school.
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 credits. Many programs require a thesis, written or oral examination, and practical experiences. For doctoral degrees, students must complete both the required courses and a dissertation/dissertation defense.
What Is a Graduate Fellowship?
Fellowships are similar to scholarships received for undergraduate education. They are generally awarded based on merit and provide funding for tuition and living stipends. The 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.
Is Financial Aid Available for Graduate Education?
There are a variety of financial aid opportunities available to graduate students, such as remission credits where tuition costs are defrayed, assistantships to help with teaching or research, graduate scholarships, graduate student loans, or fellowships. There are an array of financial aid resources available to graduate school hopefuls, and students should learn about them and apply for as many as possible.
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 for graduate courses, while private colleges and universities often charge more than $500 per credit. For example, Temple University charges $687 per credit to Pennsylvania residents. Students should look for financial aid opportunities, such as employer benefits or federal aid or grants. If classes are part time, students may be able to work throughout the program.
What Is the Typical Workload 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. Graduate courses often culminate in a capstone, thesis, or dissertation project.
What Criteria Determines Admission Into Graduate School?
While admissions committees vary, graduate schools typically evaluate students based on undergraduate GPA scores as an indicator of how students will perform in the graduate program. Other factors include GRE or GMAT scores, because they provide insight into how applicants rank among their peers, and answers to essay questions and letters of recommendation, which help admissions committees gain a better understanding of an applicant as a person.
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, and academic resources. For example, the U.S. News & World Report ranks Harvard University as the best business school. Also, keep in mind that you may need a smaller course load if you have work obligations. Finally, determine whether the program offers any experience opportunities, such as assistantships or helping with research.
Where Should I Apply to Graduate School?
Students should apply to graduate programs that offer their area of interest, considering the qualifications of departmental faculty and their expertise. Potential students should also research the format of the program, such as whether a program has a cohort model, requires a thesis, or allows students to attend part time. Students can contact the school to gain more information, and it may be helpful to get in touch with actual students, whose contact information can often be found on the website.