Graduate/Professional School Options
What Is Graduate School?
Graduate school is an advanced program of study on a particular subject or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been geared more toward generating original research. However, there are also programs that pertain to developing skills and knowledge to acquire a specific profession.
Graduate school is different from undergraduate study for a variety of reasons. Graduate programs tend to have smaller, more intimate class room settings, where discussion and participation is even more important. Many students work during graduate school not only to pay bills, but to gain experience in their field of choice. Because of this, many programs will offer night classes to accommodate those who work during the day. Before applying to graduate school, weigh the costs and benefits by using this tool on how major and degree affects lifetime earnings and reading this guide on Are You Ready for Graduate School?
Types of Graduate Programs
Some master's degree programs will lead to doctoral degree programs, but many are "terminal" master's degrees, meaning they do not segue into a doctoral program. These programs typically take a full-time student two years to complete. For example, a Master's of Business Administration and Master's of Arts in Education.
Certifications and Credentials
Certifications and credentials can earned in addition to a bachelor's degree to advance or enter a specific profession, such as a teaching credential.
A doctoral degrees is the most advanced degree one can receive. It is typically focused on one specialty area of study and involve unique individual research which leads to the defense of a dissertation. The typical length of a doctoral program is five to seven years.
Choosing a School
When choosing a school, consider factors such as the programs and specializations they offer, length of program, location, cost, and research opportunities. Check out the graduate programs that SJSU offers.
- Find a Graduate School That's Right For You! search utility
- Grad Programs Search from The Princeton Review
- Check out Grad School rankings at the U.S. News and World Report
A curriculum vitae, or CV, is a detailed record of your education and employment history. For more information and examples, see the Resume Guide.
Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement
This is your opportunity to showcase who you are and your interest in the field of study in which you are applying to. It is important to use examples and stories to enhance your points. It is also important to state why you are interested in the program you are applying for and why you chose that particular school. The selection committees also like to read about your future career goals and how your graduate education will lead you there.
Depending on the school that you are applying for, they may ask for a Statement of Purpose, a Personal Statement, or sometimes both. It is very important to read the prompt(s) carefully and ensure that you answer all parts of the prompt in your writing. Not following page limits, or failing to answer all parts of the prompt, can send the message that you can't follow instructions or that you weren't taking your application seriously. For writing help, visit the Writing Center. Below are some resources on the Statement of Purpose and Personal Statements.
- Video: 10 Steps to Writing an Effective Statement of Purpose
- Drafting your Statement of Purpose
- UC Berkeley's guide to Writing the Statement of Purpose
- UCLA's guide to Writing the Statement of Purpose
- Sample Guides from other CSU campuses: Fullerton, Long Beach, Fresno
- Check out the UC Guide on writing your Personal Statement
- UC Berkeley's guide to Writing the Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Assessment Worksheet
- Tips on Writing a Personal Statement from the SJSU Writing Center
- Personal Statement Examples and Critiques
In doing your research, it is important to determine what admissions tests, if any, are required. You will then want to sign-up for the test in a time frame that will get the scores to the school(s) you are applying to before the application deadline. There are a variety of different tests that pertain to various different graduate school programs. Below are some of the various tests and what they are traditionally used for:
- M.B.A. (Master's in Business Administration) - the GMAT
- Medical Schools - the MCAT
- Law Schools - the LSAT
- Most other Graduate Programs - the GRE
- Additional tests - Graduate School Testing Resources
In order to adequately prepare for your standardized test, check out some of these common test-prep resources to get you started. Many students choose to take a test prep course, get tutoring, utilize online preparation resources, or purchase a test prep book to prepare themselves for their test.
Applying to Medical School
If medical school is a goal of yours, then take a look at the Association of American Medical Colleges website.
A couple of things you should know are that you do not need to major in a science in order to attend or be accepted into medical school. However, you do need to meet certain course prerequisites. Many schools require that applicants have one year of physics, biology, english, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.