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Graduate School or Not?

Do You Need to Go to Graduate School?


Woman walking up stairs to receive her Masters Degree, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Megan Q Daniels / First Light / Getty Images
For many of us, an advanced degree is a necessity. The field in which we want to work requires a master's degree, or more advanced degree, for licensure or certification. For example, in order to practice as a lawyer, psychologist, librarian, or teacher, an advanced degree is required. For other careers, however, the need for an advanced degree is not as clear cut.

People decide to pursue such a degree for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include career advancement, increased pay, skills development, and the love of learning. Regardless of the reason, one should take great care in making this decision. The demands of a graduate education are great, both emotionally, and financially. Sometimes the benefits do not outweigh the costs. If you decide to work your way through school, you must determine how you will fit classes and schoolwork into your already busy schedule.

Deciding What to Study

While helpful to many career paths, a graduate degree is not always the answer. In addition, an advanced degree in the same discipline in which you did your undergraduate work may not be your best choice. For example, an MBA may be the perfect compliment to your B.A. in Biochemistry. As in any other aspect of planning your career, you must take enormous care in choosing the area in which you will do your graduate study.

Choosing the Right School

Selecting what graduate school to attend is as important as deciding what to study. You want a school with a good reputation. You should ask others in your field, especially those in charge of hiring, which programs they respect the most. Of course, you must look for the school that is the best fit for you. In addition to quality, you must look at cost and location. To get the latest information on graduate schools both in the United States and abroad, you should investigate the following sites:

About Graduate School Admissions
Guide Tara Kuther, Ph.D. provides links and articles that cover topics such as getting into graduate school and surviving once you're in. You'll also find links to graduate programs.

A geographic directory of grad schools in the U.S. categorized by business, engineering, law, and medical schools. Claims to be comprehensive but some schools are missing.

Graduate School Guide
Search for graduate schools by fields of study and geographic location. Includes U.S. schools only.

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