Graduate School

How Can Career Services Help You Prepare for Grad School? 

If you are considering continuing your education, congratulations!  With an advanced degree, you have the ability to apply greater depth of knowledge to your field, and to create more personal options for career growth and earnings potential along the way.

Career Center will assist you as you plan your graduate program. We will help you:

Schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor on TritonTrack

Students are also encouraged to work with faculty members in their disciplines to prepare for graduate school.

Application PROCESS

What Goes Into an Application?

The elements of your application can vary by school and/or program, but often include:

Use these timelines to guide your application process. 

How to find funding for your program.

How to reach out to a potential advisor to express interest in joining their lab.

decision factors

If you are not sure of the career options or diversity of possible “specialization” directions within your target occupational area, you should explore options further before looking at graduate programs.  

Admission committees will look for the right match between what you are looking for and what their program is designed to deliver. You will have to "articulate" this in your Personal Statement portion of your application. Recruiters may reject your application if they don't see a match between their program and your goals.

Check out What Can I Do With This Major for insights on career options for your chosen field of study. 

If you’ve already completed at least one internship and still aren't sure, additional exploration can include “information interviews” or job shadowing with individuals already working in the field where you have the opportunity to appreciate a “day in the life,” and learn about steps others have taken to get to the goal you seek. 

If you're still unsure, make an appointment with your mentor, your favorite professor, and/or Career Center for help in talking through the options.

Benefits & Costs

Depending on the field of study, your graduate degree can be another significant “investment” in your education. The first step of your planning should be to consider the costs, the benefits and the potential return on investment (ROI).


Give due diligence to considering your motivation to pursue a degree. Motivations range broadly with objectives including:


The costs of a graduate degree include money—and time!

The time amount and value varies widely by individual, but the ranges include:

The cost varies widely as well, but you should consider testing, tuition and cost of living:


Data on the value of attending graduate school is available from a number of resources. According to a 2015 update from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Those with a master’s degree had an unemployment rate of 2.4% (even lower for professional degrees and PhDs), compared to the national average of 4.3%.”

Consider: what's your desired role after completing your graduate degree? What is the median income for people working in this specific role, or the field at large? Use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to gather this information.

Take the time to jot down your “benefits” or pros, “costs” or cons and review those factors in light of current job market conditions and other factors that drive your motivation and calculate your projected ROI. If the math works for you, read on!

Degree Levels

Master’s or PhD?

The thought process about which degree is really an extension of the process of deciding whether to pursue grad school at all. Consider the “benefits” of a graduate degree along with your short and long term goals.

A Master’s Degree provides a solid education in a specialized field and depending on the program and your readiness, will take one to three years of study and can be pursued full or part-time.

A Doctorate can take multiple forms within a field of study. For example, in the Psychology field, should one pursue a PhD or PsyD? Regardless, a doctorate degree in general arms you with knowledge and experience in a specialized field and can require from five to seven years of work. A Doctorate is a given if you plan to conduct original research and/or pursue teaching at the collegiate level.

Gap Years

To “GAP Year” or Not?

The decision whether to continue on directly to grad school after undergraduate studies, or to take 1-2 years and work in an intern or entry level capacity in your target career area, is to a large degree dependent on your confidence in your career plans, financial resources, and whether you meet all the admissions criteria for the program(s) of interest to you.

If you are not sure of the career options or diversity of possible “specialization” directions within your target occupational area, you should explore options further before looking at graduate programs.  

Before you finalize a decision to take a gap year, remember that:

If you are confident and have already selected a program, make sure to identify all admissions criteria including course prerequisites and GPA.  Some programs, particularly science and pre-med, have very specific course requirements that may not have been required for your undergraduate degree. Perhaps your GPA is not as strong as you need to be competitive. If you find you need a course or two and cannot complete them in the time before the next available program start date, explore options, including starting at your target institution as a “non-degree seeking” student to complete those courses while working an internship or job in the area and building institution relationships.


There are two kinds of accreditation: institutional (college and university accreditation) and program accreditation. Accreditation is an assurance of quality in terms of the curriculum and instruction you will receive. 

Information is provided below on accreditation but you can also visit the website for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Institutional Accreditation

Many schools and some universities will claim to be accredited and some even claim to have national accreditation; however, only regional accrediting associations are recognized throughout the U.S. as having curriculum and instruction at acceptable levels of educational quality. Accreditation is determined on the basis of a rigorous set of criteria established by peers and reviewed on a regular basis by the accrediting board. Be sure that the institution you want to attend is accredited by one of these six U.S. regional accrediting associations:


A key decision is whether you can or want to relocate to pursue graduate study; this decision will define the range of options you consider. Geography, weather, and proximity to family and friends may be as important to you as the excellence of the program. Distance learning programs may be an option, given your aspirations, field of study, and learning style. A cautionary note: in some professions, a degree from a distance learning program is considered a hindrance to hiring or promotion, while in other professions the nontraditional program is considered a neutral factor. Consult with discipline faculty about the wisdom of choosing traditional or nontraditional graduate programs.