What Graduate School Entails

What is graduate school you ask? Should I go to grad school? Graduate degree programs refer to degree programs that follows a bachelor. These include degrees such as the doctorate degree program (PhD, EdD, EDS, DBA, MD, JD, etc) just to give a few examples. Graduate programs also include masters degree studies in a whole host of areas that include nursing, education, business, psychology, counseling, etc.

Graduate school include professional degree programs such as pharmacy, engineering, accounting, among others. Graduate programs are advanced programs of study that are specifically focused on a certain academic discipline or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been known to be academic. In other words it is centered on conducting original research, a graduate degree can also be a professional degree. That is, it is focused on developing skills and knowledge in ones discipline. Some programs may be a combination of both. What is graduate school in terms of how it varies for a bachelors degree? Graduate school is different from a bachelors degree or other undergraduate studies in several ways:

  • Graduate school coursework is more focused in specializing in a given discipline. For example one can pursue a masters in instructional design where the coursework is specifically geared at targeting skills and knowledge in the field. At the undergraduate level on the other hand, students are required to take a host of general education classes.
  • Expectations for both the quantity of your academic work are greater
  • Focused studies in a specific discipline with fewer elective possibilities
  • Rigorous expectations and evaluation
  • Smaller classes with authentic program experiences like case studies and group projects
  • Professional experience through internships, teaching, and research may be expected
  • Completion of original research in the form of a thesis, dissertation, portfolio, comprehensive exams, etc is often required

What is graduate school in terms of what is required for graduation? Program requirements and length of study will vary from program to program. Graduate degrees are available in many disciplines but may be organize into several levels: Master degree, specialist degree, professional degree, and doctorate degree.

Master’s degrees are available in multiple fields. While some masters programs are designed to lead to a doctoral degree, for instance a masters degree in psychology, others are terminal degrees, for example the master in fine arts or a masters of library science. It generally takes full time students about two years to complete the degree. Some degree requirements may include: internship, comprehensive exam, portfolio, thesis, etc.

Specialist degrees are often completed upon earning a master’s degree. They require additional coursework, research, or internship experience. Students may also be required to complete a research project. A specialist degree prepares students for professional certification and/or licensing, for example the Ed.S. that may be a requirement to apply for a position as a school principal. An EdS can take one to three years to complete.

Professional degree generally require licensure or certification. One must already hold at least a first degree for the application to be considered. Professional degrees include: Juris Doctor (JD), Medical Doctorate (MD), Doctorates in areas like psychiatry, psychology and pharmacology to mention a few. The length of study varies from program to program but can take anywhere from two to five years of full time study.

Doctoral degrees are the highest level of study. In other words they are the terminal degree in many disciplines. They require students to complete various requirements that may include completing residency requirements, comprehensive exams, and original, independent research in the form of a dissertation. A doctoral degree can take anywhere from five to seven years from enrollment to completion. So now that we have answered the question – what is graduate school – learn more about grad school programs throughout this site.