Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Thinking about Graduate School and How to Begin the Process?

Posted on December 03, 2016 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

Mary Sloan, Director of Graduate Studies

Recently, your faculty or professional advisor may have introduced you to the many reasons to choose graduate school. A graduate degree may help you further study in your major, prepare you to change fields completely or help you get a job promotion. Some professions require a graduate degree for licensing or certification. Or you might choose to pursue a doctoral degree and do research in a field you love.

Graduate study is different from undergraduate study in a number of ways. Being a graduate student means  you will be working toward increasing your knowledge in one particular discipline  instead of  being exposed to a number of different disciplines as you are while an undergraduate. Graduate classes tend to be smaller than many undergraduate classes, so your opportunities to interact with faculty are much greater.

Whatever the reason for attending graduate school, it is never too early to start thinking about the application process. Many graduate programs have November or December deadlines for students wishing to start the following fall semester. Some graduate programs require a standardized test while others require a portfolio. Some require specific undergraduate degrees and some are open to all undergraduate majors. Many students believe they can only go on to graduate school in the same field as their undergraduate major. That is not correct.

It can feel like a daunting task to find the right graduate program, or even to decide if graduate school is the right choice for you. One way to get started is to attend the Graduate School Information Session run by the Office of Admissions. You will learn valuable information on how to think about graduate school and receive helpful guidelines for applying to graduate school, whether here at USM or elsewhere. You can also learn about USM’s graduate programs. Details can be found on the Admissions website.

If you want to earn a graduate degree in your major, it can be very helpful  to talk with the faculty in your department. They are a valuable source of information on graduate programs in their discipline. This is particularly true if you want to go on to a doctorate in your major. They can help you identify the best programs in their area of expertise. If you are thinking of going on to study in a different field it can be beneficial to talk with someone who has completed a graduate study in that field and ask for their advice.

USM offers a wide variety of graduate degree programs and graduate certificate programs. These include offerings in healthcare, education, social work, public health and other fields . If you want to talk with a graduate admissions counselor, Lisa Sweet’s office can be reached at The staff members in the Office of Graduate Studies, located in 124 Wishcamper, are also available to answer any questions you may have about graduate studies.


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