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What is Graduate School?

Graduate school constitutes an advanced program of study focused on a particular academic discipline or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been "academic" (centered on generating original research in a particular discipline), but it may be "professional" (centered on developing skills and knowledge for a specific profession), or a combination of both.

How is Graduate School Different from Undergraduate Education?

Compared to undergraduate studies, graduate school is a more concentrated course of study and expectations regarding the quality and quantity of your academic work are greater. Graduate programs also entail:

  • focused studies in a specific discipline with fewer elective possibilities
  • rigorous evaluation of your work by professors and peers
  • smaller classes with much student interaction
  • work experience via internships, teaching, or research
  • production of original research is often required

What Graduate Degrees are available?

Graduate degrees are available in almost any subject and come in three levels-Master, Specialist, and Doctorate. Depending on the graduate school program and degree level you desire, your program requirements and length will vary.

  • Master's degrees are offered in many fields of study. Some are designed to lead to a doctoral degree while others are the "terminal" degree for a profession (e.g., Master of Library Science; Master of Business Administration). For full-time students, completing a master's degree usually takes 2 years.
  • Specialist degrees are usually earned in addition to a master's degree and will require additional coursework, training, or internship experience. This type of degree usually prepares students for professional certification or licensing requirements (e.g., Ed.S. for school principal).
  • Doctoral degrees are the highest degrees possible. They usually require the creation of new knowledge via independent research - be it basic or applied. Including the time it takes to write and defend a dissertation, this degree may take anywhere from 5-7 years to complete.

For information on locating graduate programs that meet your needs, see: How do I choose a school?

Back to Grad School Home

 
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This page last updated 11/23/2010 (jw)