What is Graduate School All About?
Graduate School is similar to undergraduate school in that you continue coursework. Main differences are:
- Many more seminar type courses, especially at advanced level.
- More papers, projects, presentations, fewer tests.
- More research oriented approaches.
- Increased specialization of subject matter studies.
- More independent work requiring self-discipline.
- Less short-term feedback about how you are doing academically.
- Increased pressure to maintain high grades; generally B or above is the expected minimum.
Master's Degree (M.A. or M.S.)
Four typical types of programs:
- Coursework & thesis - A thesis is an independent research project which the student designs, carries out, writes and defends before a committee of graduate professors.
- Coursework and exams - Some programs give the student the option of not writing a thesis, but taking comprehensive exams instead.
- Coursework and internship - An internship is a supervised, experiential learning situation, usually on a part-time, voluntary basis. The student may spend one or two semesters working in a setting compatible with his/her area of study to develop knowledge and skills in that area.
- Combination of the above
Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.)/Other Professional Degrees
Usual requirements include:
- Preliminary coursework.
- Some programs require a master's thesis.
- A comprehensive examination covering required coursework which may be written and/or oral.
- Dissertation which is an original, independent research project. The student usually presents the project to a faculty committee for approval and defends the completed project before the same committee. Differs from a thesis in that it must be original, is usually more complex and in-depth, and must be judged to be a significant contribution to knowledge in the student's field.
- Requirements for applied programs such as counseling, clinical psychology, nursing or social work may invole some practical experience.
Some professions may require some licensing procedure, i.e. a bar exam or state license exam.