What is a Graduate School?

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Are you a senior in college wondering what to do after graduation? Are you weighing your options for the next steps in your education? It is likely that if either of these is true, grad school has been in your head. However, what is a graduate school? We are here to answer just that and more.

In this article, you will not only find graduate schools defined, but you will also find information on the various types of graduate schools and what you should consider when you are thinking about attending.

Keep reading to find all of the essential information you need surrounding graduate school and the different types of graduate schools today.

What is the Purpose of Grad School?What is the Purpose of Grad School?

The graduate school offers students advanced degrees generally in a similar field of discipline to their undergraduate major. Where undergraduate degrees give students a more general education, graduate school offers students a more focused opportunity to study a discipline in depth.

Generally, a graduate degree aids a student in achieving upward movement within their career. Attending and completing graduate school can mean increases in your salary and, at times, additional responsibility in your workload. Though this is a reality, it is not the same for all professions. In IT or computer-centric disciplines, salary and opportunity are increased the more your degree advances.

For other students, attending graduate school is needed to break into their desired occupation. This is generally a reality for medical professions like a therapist and even social workers.

Graduate schools also place a considerable amount of interest in self-paced and thought-out work. Contrary to undergrad, you will spend more time researching and searching for answers rather than just regurgitating foundational knowledge.

What is Considered Graduate School?

What is Considered Graduate School?

A graduate school is an institution that offers master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, specialist degrees, or all three. Graduate schools are often known for providing master’s degrees; however, that is not the only degree that you can earn from a graduate school. A master’s or a doctorate degree are both received from graduate schools and are considered graduate degree programs.

What is a Goal Statement for Graduate School?

What is a Goal Statement for Graduate School?

A goal statement is also more commonly known as a personal statement. This goal statement is used as one of the criteria for your admission into graduate school. This document not only allows a student to demonstrate their literary abilities it also enables the admissions council to get to know you on a more personal level.

Graduate students often come from different backgrounds and are of varying ages. There is no distinctive grad school-age, and therefore, everyone’s journey is different. This short letter allows the admissions council to see you as human and more than just your educational statistics. Utilize the tips below to create a goal statement that is genuine and sure to aid in getting you your acceptance letter.

Don’t forget to proofread

Proofreading is essential for ensuring that your goal statement is correct. You must get a second set of eyes on the document, as you will likely miss typos and other nuances because you have been staring at the document for so long.

Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself

Your goal statement should be all about you and your experiences. It should highlight your strengths and bring light to your achievements.  Don’t waste too much time adding filler text. Your characters are limited, and therefore, every word is essential.

Make sure you are answering the prompt’s question

Often, schools will provide a prompt for students to answer in their personal statements. You must answer this prompt wholly and adequately. Your statement should be focused and concise. It should hit all of the necessary points and tell a complete story while providing all of the needed details.

Use your experience as support

Make sure that you are using your experience as support. This experience should support why you can answer the question and why you would be a good fit for the program. You should avoid making statements that sound cliché or sound like text fillers. Use experiences that will grab their attention and make them want to read more.

For example, if I am telling a story about bravery or strength, I would tell a story related to the time I was stranded in the wood over a time when I had a hard time at work. The story about being left in the woods is not only rare but seems exciting. It grabs the reader’s attention.

Look at examples

If you are unsure of what to do or how to start your statement, there are several examples available for you online. These can provide you with excellent examples of how to transition your thoughts, grab the reader’s attention, and so much more. Utilize these resources to the best of your abilities.

Highlight your strengths

One major thing that you need to make sure you are doing is highlighting your strengths. If you are unsure of how to incorporate these into your story, try creating a mind map. This will help you map out your thoughts and tie ideas together which make sense.

Check your word count

It is imperative that you know your limits and that you do not exceed them. Sometimes more is not always better. If the statement calls for one-page single-spaced essay, do not turn in a 3-page double-spaced one. These are small areas that can further prove your competency.

What are the Types of Graduate School?

What are the Types of Graduate School?

When looking into different graduate schools, there are several other options available to you. The first distinction is a public school versus a private school. One of the most significant distinctions that you will find between these schools is cost. Public schools are often state-funded schools that receive government funding. Private schools are often far more expensive and managed by the funds that individuals pay for tuition, classes, etc.


There is also a different type of graduate degrees that students can receive. For example, when looking to receive a master’s degree, there are a variety of programs. This includes a Master of Arts. This degree is awarded for disciplines like education, music, and more. This degree is often compared to a fine arts degree. Fine arts degrees encompass more creative fields like painting, writing, and event photography.


Another type of master’s degree is a Master of Science. This, as the name implies, is reserved for science degrees. This includes technology, mathematics, science, and more. However, depending on your undergraduate discipline, your distinction may be different. Master’s degrees in this field are more research-based than MA degrees. However, if you do not have a science background in the disciple, you are going into some opt for a Master of Arts degree.


Another popular option is an MBA. This degree has a wide range of possibilities and accompanies various disciplines like management, accounting, human resources, and more. With this degree, students can often choose a concentration.

Outside of receiving a master’s degree, there are two other options for degrees, including specialist and doctorate. Specialist degrees are a level above a master’s degree. They often come after your master’s degree. Common specialist degrees include those received in the education field. A Doctoral degree is the highest level that you can receive, is the most rigorous, and takes the longest to obtain.

What is a Graduate School GPA?

What is a Graduate School GPA?

Your graduate-level GPS is something that varies from your undergraduate GPA. As the name implies, this takes into consideration the courses you have taken within your graduate coursework. Depending on where you opt to attend graduate school, many advanced programs stipulate the minimum that your GPA can be. Though we cannot speak for all graduate programs, the average GPS that a student must maintain while in graduate school is a 3.0.

How Long is a Graduate School?

How Long is a Graduate School?

The length of graduate school can vary depending on your program type. On average, a master’s degree can take anywhere from one to two years to complete. If you attend graduate school to receive a doctorate, you will likely find yourself in school between two and six years. Several outside factors can further increase or decrease your time in graduate school.

This range can be influenced by several things, including:

  • Number of classes taken each semester
  • Workload inside and outside the classroom
  • Personal factors like children or outside responsibilities
  • Work ethic
  • Financial assistance
  • Program requirements
  • Transferrable credits

These are all factors that would force you to increase or decrease the amount of time you spend in graduate school. Accelerate programs are one option that allows students to speed up their time in graduate school. This acceleration often means taking on a heavier workload. This could mean a more significant number of classes during the semester or even taking summer courses.

What to Consider When Attending a Graduate School?

What to Consider When Attending a Graduate School?

You will want to think about several different factors when you have decided to attend Graduate School. Much like your undergraduate education, this is an investment in your future. It will take a significant amount of time and money to complete, and therefore, you should be sure that this is something you are willing to do. The list below contains many different factors that will be important when you begin graduate school and, more importantly, when searching for the right graduate school for you.

Undergraduate degree completion

The first stipulation to receiving a master’s degree is already having an undergraduate degree. Most times, the first degree that a person obtains is directly related to the degree they seek a master’s in. Though this is not a mandate, it is the most common.

Program Location

The program location is something you should carefully take into account when considering graduate school. Your college years are your chance to see the world without personal commitments holding you back. Though that may not be possible for some, you will still need to think long and hard about where you plan on spending the next few years. This could be a more significant driver in your career options once your program has been completed.

Degrees Offered

You will also need to consider what degrees different types of graduate schools offer heavily. It is vital to guarantee that the school you are considering offers the programs that you need to meet your end goal. No matter how much you fall in love with a school’s campus and atmosphere, if it does not offer the degree you seek, the chances are high that the school is not for you.

Learning Types

Your learning type must be considered when looking to start a new graduate program. For some, distance learning may be an option. Distance learning allows you to complete your curriculum where you are without being in the classroom. Some programs can flex between being virtual and in-person due to the nature of the world. This is something you will need to follow up with each respective institution you are researching to confirm or deny.


One major thing to consider is how you plan to pay for your education. Though some graduate programs are shorter than a traditional school, the cost of attendance depends on the organization. There are several ways for you to fund your education. This can include grants, work-study, fellowships, and so much more. These are all options that take research and, sometimes, applications. The earlier you can find these options, the better.

Why Do You Want to Attend?

Why Do You Want to Attend?

This is a fantastic question to ask yourself. Outside of asking that question about what a graduate school is, you should also know why you would like to attend. If you feel like your why is not strong enough to carry you through the program, it may be time to reevaluate if the program is for you at all.

Some students make the mistake of going to graduate school to hold off life for a little bit longer. If you have gone straight through your education, being in a classroom is something you are familiar with. Change can be scary, but it is essential to make sure you create the change you need and want instead of settling out of a place of fear.

Program Requirements

Different programs have different requirements for admittance. While some programs are only looking for a good GPA, other programs mandate that students take the GRE or other discipline-specific entrance exams, as needed.

Tuition Assistance/Reimbursement

If you are currently in the workforce, one awesome thing to consider and take advantage of is tuition assistance from your workplace. Though all jobs do not offer this benefit, many do. Finding this information can be easy and will save you a considerable amount of debt in the future. Most companies will match anywhere from 20% to 100%. It all depends on the company you work for. However, in choosing this option, several companies stipulate that you must stay at the company for the amount of time you attended school. If you do not see yourself staying with your company, it may not be best to use this option.

Transfer Credit

If you are bringing credits from other schools, you must make sure that your credits transfer. If you depend on your credits to accelerate your graduate degree, you must make sure that the graduate school of your choosing can accept them.

Accredited Programs

One major thing that you should also make sure of is that your school is accredited. If your school is not accredited, then your degree is invalid. This is not something you want to deal with and can be detrimental for transferring credits or getting institutions to accept your degree.

Accelerated Degree Programs

Accelerated degree programs offer students the ability to get their degrees in far less time than usual. These degrees can be coupled with undergraduate degrees or can boast a more robust workload to keep you on track for finishing quicker.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Graduate School?

Have you found your answer for what is a graduate school? In a nutshell, it is a school that offers programs for advanced degrees. These degrees include master’s, doctoral, and even specialist degrees.

Graduate school is where the training wheels come off. Instead of spending time doing bookwork, you will spend time researching and learning more about various areas within your discipline. If you are thinking about going to graduate school, there are several things that you must consider. These include cost, location, and even the reason behind attending.

If you think graduate school is for you, take your time and research to find a program that fits your needs. Happy Hunting.

Because you read this post, you may also like to read our other articles below:

> Is Graduate School More Expensive Than Undergrad?

> Do Graduate School Rankings Matter?

> Dissertation vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference?

> How Many Minors Can You Have?

> Medical School vs. PA School: What’s the Difference?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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