Career Services - Considering Graduate School

Considering Graduate School

I’ve made my decision; Graduate School is right for me. What do I do next?

This is where your homework begins. Don’t assume that you’ll automatically be accepted to the school and program of your choice. Speak with instructors and professors to use the knowledge they have to find out what may be available to you. Visit the Lourdes Career Services Office to explore information on graduate programs. There is also a wealth of information available online. Use the websites listed on the Career Services homepage to explore a variety of programs.

Should I attend Graduate School? Is it for me? Should I get some job experience first?

So many questions! This important decision should be made with much thought and consideration. The more homework you do to investigate your choices and educate yourself, the more capable you will be in making an informed decision. It is never too early to start thinking about graduate school. Speak with a career counselor, instructors, advisor, and colleagues. Each can provide you with information and personal experience that will be helpful in your decision-making process.

Your decision to attend gradate school should be based on a strong vocational interest, a passion for further knowledge, and a desire to increase your income potential -- not to avoid getting a job or because you're not sure what you want to do. To work or not to work prior to graduate school really depends on your situation and field of study. Some graduate programs strongly encourage people to have work experience. You should explore what is expected in your field of study.

How many schools should I apply to?

It is usually recommended that you apply to 5-6 schools. Don’t be afraid to apply to schools outside of your local area. Apply to programs for which you meet all of the requirements, but also to those for which you do not. Most schools use more than just one criterion for admission; so while you may not have the highest GRE score, you may stand out in your essay. Select a program that meets your personal and professional interests and needs. The program should match your career interests and goals. It is not as important to choose a particular College or University, but the reputation of that particular program that is important. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone -- you might be pleasantly surprised.

Online graduate school directories:

How do I apply?

Be aware of the specific requirements for the programs you are interested in pursuing. Criteria may include undergraduate grades, admission test scores, Admission Essay/ Statement of Purpose, letters of recommendation, and completed application forms and all stated requirements.

Graduate Admissions Tests

Most programs require a graduate admissions test. Make sure you check the school's requirements. Scores on these tests are not only used for admissions purposes, but also for fellowships, grants, and assistantships. Some programs waive the graduate admission test if your undergraduate GPA is high enough. Again, this is an individualized thing; check the program requirements to be sure. The websites below offer study tips and sample tests along with details about registering for tests:

Application and Fees

Make sure that your application is complete, free of errors, and mailed by the deadline. If at all possible, send your application 30 days prior to the deadline. If the school has a rolling admission, you should apply as early as possible. Rolling admission means that they accept applicants continuously and review applications as they are received until there are no more openings.


Official transcripts of your undergraduate work and any other course work you have completed must be sent to the graduate school with your admission file. If you have attended more than one college, you must include copies of transcripts from each school that you’ve attended. Contact the registrar’s office or go to the college website to find out where your transcripts should be sent.

Letters of Recommendation

Most programs require three letters of recommendation. Recommendations should come from members of the faculty or staff at your college or from past employers who are in a position to assess your attitude and motivation for graduate study. Be selective in who you ask and make sure that person can write you a strong letter of recommendation attesting to your abilities, accomplishments, and character. Provide the writer your resume and a statement of your career and academic goals. They may be asked to complete a form provided by the school. Always provide your writer a self-addressed stamped envelope. It is important to follow up with each writer prior to the deadline to see if they have completed and sent their letter.

Graduate School Essays

The application essay is also known as the “statement of purpose” or “personal statement”. The essay is used as an indicator of your writing ability, and also to provide an opportunity for you to articulate your goals and reasons for applying to graduate school. Be sure that your essay meets the school's requirements.

How much will Graduate School cost?

This is important to everyone. Consider the following: tuition and fees, assistantships and fee waivers, fellowships, and scholarships.


Career Services
MAH 128A

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