What is Graduate School?

Grad schools or graduate schools makes an advanced program to shape students to focus on the field or career that they desire. It prepares you for future job placements.

Updated by Nchum Felic.Yan on 3rd March 2020

“Grad school or graduate school” is a higher education institution that rewards postgraduate degrees like masters and or doctorate (Ph.D.) programs.

The term “grad school or graduate school” defines a higher education institution that awards postgraduate degrees like masters and or doctorate (Ph.D.) programs. You will need to have an undergraduate degree(bachelor’s degree), also called as a first degree, before trying for admission to grad school.

Grad schools are also present within academic departments of universities, or separate colleges which offer postgraduate education. The grad schools constitute an advanced program of study on a particular academic discipline or profession.

Graduate schools have been only “academic” but maybe “professional” or a combination of both disciplines.

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How is grad school different from undergraduate education?

Comparatively, the graduate school focuses on the quality and quantity of your academic work more. The graduate programs also focus on the following

  • Focused studies in a specific area with little elective possibilities.

  • Continuous checking of your work by professors and peers.

  • Smaller classes with limited student communication.

  • Work experience via internships, training, teachings, and research.

  • Working and producing original research is often a must.


Where is the term grad school used normally?

The term grad school is preferably used in North America, although some of the universities name their postgraduate departments as graduate schools, such as the Graduate School of Law or Graduate School of Medicine. People also use the term graduate to offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses under the same faculty or administration.


Types of grad school

Listed below are the two types:

Professional school

If you have a certain career in life, such as turning to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer, you are welcome to join a professional school in order to get full training and be prepared for that career, to successfully get a professional qualification or a license. Courses under these schools involve more advanced learning styles and multiple opportunities for job placements.

Academic school

Apart from professional schools, the postgraduate degrees differ in the concentration given to vocational training and academic research as well. This depends on the subject with some areas lending themselves more to find out for (research purpose), while the others towards professional practice.

Most of the professional degrees offer a combination of both, which allows students to form many sets of skills applicable in a wide range of graduate careers.


Kinds of graduate degrees

Graduate degrees are available in any subject. Depending on the degree level/kind and graduate school program that you opted, the time duration differs. There are three levels/kinds of graduate degrees as follows:

Master of Arts

Provide training in humanities and social sciences to prepare students for professional certification or licensing. It takes 2 years to complete. For example, an MA in communication or anthropology, Humanities, or get specialized an MA in Folklore, MA in History of the Book.

Master of Science

Provide training in the sciences and quantitative fields. Some are designed to lead to a doctoral degree, some to a terminal degree ( such as Master of Business Administration, Master of Library Science.) It takes 2 years in four semesters to complete.

PhDs or Doctorates in Philosophy

These are the highest degrees be it basic or applied one. It provides a valuable advanced training available in an opted academic discipline, helps you to work in academia or other academic works. This degree takes 5-7 years to complete.


Benefits of graduate school

The benefits are:

  • A graduate degree is a must for work in terms of academia.

  • Depending on your fields/majors, some fields may offer you good earning potential and growing job prospects.

  • You can learn more knowledge and ideas in a new area/discipline compared to your undergraduate degree.

  • It can support you to get expert in research and publication credits.

  • It can strengthen your “request to apply” or application to a good professional school.


Main drawbacks to grad school

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • A Graduate school is expensive

  • They won’t give you higher job prospects or either a good income, leaving it as a poor investment at most.

Funding to get is also hard for graduate school apart from for a Ph.D. than a Masters’s degree. Most of the people avoid going to grad school as they are looking for a gaining career.


How to apply for a grad school?

Note the steps below;

  1. Try to get a good GRE score

  2. Have a good relevant experience, a good publication discipline.

  3. To have a strong undergraduate record/status

  4. To obtain a glowing recommendation.

  5. Clearly make an articulate order of your interests and goals in that discipline.