Whether their motive is to further their education, shape themselves into a more prospective job candidate, or fulfill a requirement for their field of study, many students are choosing to pursue a graduate degree.
According to the Council of Graduate Schools, 688,000 master’s degrees and 69,000 doctoral degrees are awarded each year, and that doesn’t even include professional degrees like MD’s and DO’s. For Gannon students considering graduate school, there is ample assistance to help you make the decision to go or not and even more to prepare you if you decide to pursue it.
The first thing you have to do is decide if graduate school is right for you. While a graduate degree is rarely an absolute requirement for jobs, according to 2010 Census Bureau data, a master’s degree added an average of $14,500 to yearly salary, and a doctoral degree added $33,500. Even if you’re not in it for the money, there’s no doubt that a graduate degree makes you a more appealing job candidate, not to mention more knowledgeable as well.
Many teachers at Gannon hold graduate or terminal status (meaning the highest degree they can obtain) in their fields, and are great resources to help you discover what graduate school is like or if it is an option for you. For students trying to make personal discernments, the counseling in the Health Center or academic advising in the Student Success Center may be a good option as well.
Of course, financial concerns exist for many students – more schooling means more money, which often means more loans.
According to The New York Times, over half the amount of students pursuing a master’s degree will borrow an additional loan average of $31,000. Some students choose to work for a number of years before returning to graduate school, saving money and paying off their existing loans.
However, just like undergraduate education, many grants and scholarships are offered to assist students in funding additional schooling costs. Many PhD programs will even waive tuition, and provide a living stipend in exchange for teaching or research assistantships.
For more information on the cost of graduate education, students can visit the financial aid office, attend graduate open house, talk with prospective graduate schools admissions representatives or meet with a financial planner.
So, let’s say you decided to pursue graduate school – what do you need to do next?
Applying is a lot like applying to an undergraduate institution: you take a test (the GRE,) fill out applications, request letters of recommendation, possibly schedule interviews and then, wait.
According to The Princeton Review, most graduate school applications are due in December for doctoral programs, and are due in March for master’s programs. Each school will have their own individual due dates, and typically hold a graduate open house prior to the application deadlines.
If you want to stay right here at Gannon, 29 degrees and graduate certifications are offered within each of the University’s colleges. Even if another institution catches your eye, there are many resources on campus that will help prepare you.
For this process, professors along with the Student Success Center are your best allies, as they can proofread résumés, write letters of recommendation, help you prepare for the GRE and keep you on track to apply on time. Talk to your teachers and visit the Student Success Center to find out if graduate school is right for you, then get cracking on those applications!