When To Go: Graduate & Professional

Office of Career Development

Now that you have decided to pursue graduate or professional studies, you will want to consider when the best time would be for you to begin. There are no absolute guidelines about when to go to graduate school.

There are pros and cons both with immediate and delayed entry of graduate study. Some feel that going directly into graduate school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree is easier because:

  1. there are many sources of information on graduate programs available while an undergraduate

  2. faculty members may be more likely to remember your achievements

  3. study habits are generally well developed and will help ease the transition into advanced course work

  4. some professional schools, especially medical and dental, prefer to recruit students directly from undergraduate programs.

On the other hand, many graduate schools, especially those with the more well-known programs, are tending to be more selective in their admissions process. Often, they will give preference to applicants with a few years of life/work experience. The argument given in favor of this selections process is that work experience tens to give students more knowledge on which to base their graduate school decisions.

What About Going Part-time?
The number of part-time graduate programs at the master's degree level has increased. If this option is available, it will be described in the graduate school bulletin. Usually, these are professional and terminal degree programs. You are probably aware that many employers offer tuition benefits for graduate study on a part-time basis.

For most Ph.D. programs, going full-time is the more common approach. While it is possible to complete advanced work on a part-time basis, and in some cases this may be necessary for you, be warned that spreading this work out over years requires extraordinary patience and commitment.