Why go to graduate or professional school?
People choose to go to graduate or professional
school for numerous reasons. Understanding your motivation is important
in deciding whether it is the right decision for you and, if so,
which program will best meet your needs.
The most common reasons people choose to attend graduate
- Intellectual curiosity—they have a real
interest in an academic area.
- Career entry or advancement—they either
want to enter a field that requires an advanced degree or have
determined that an advanced degree will enhance their career
advancement or options.
- Postpone job hunting—some students continue
their education simply because they are afraid of the alternatives.
- Satisfy others' expectations.
There are, of course, other reasons
as well. Any or all of these may be factors in your decision
to continue your education.
Understanding your motivation is important
Knowing why you are considering
going to graduate school is important both in making a decision
about whether it is a good choice for you and in deciding which graduate
program best meets your needs. For instance, a student with an
interest in a particular area of molecular biophysics would want
to select a program where research in that field is strong and ongoing.
A person who needs a masters degree to meet a specific state's
certification/licensing requirements might want to explore programs
in that state that were designed to meet those requirements.
The individual who needs/wants to continue working while pursuing
an advanced degree may be limited to part-time programs in a
specific geographic area.
Other factors that may enter into your decision
- Are you confident enough in your decision
to make the necessary commitment in time, effort, and resources?
- Will this advanced degree lead you to where
you want to be professionally or personally?
- How will attending graduate school affect
your family or relationships?
- How will you finance it?
- Do the programs you are considering require
or recommend related experience prior to entry?