Graduate Study Guidance

Confused about whether to pursue a post-graduate degree? Pursuing a graduate degree reflects an interest in a more specialized field of study than your undergraduate education. Graduate school means an extensive commitment in terms of time, money and hard work. It takes an average of one to three years to earn a master’s degree and approximately four more years to earn a doctorate degree. Graduate study should not be your principal goal but rather a means towards a goal that you strive to achieve; a goal that would motivate you through the years of intense graduate studies. If being a graduate student is your principal goal, the real world can come as a nasty shock at the end of your program!

The Career Center offers students contemplating a degree in graduate studies the following services:

FAQ’s about pursuing a post graduate degree

+ Why are you pursuing a post-graduate degree? What do you hope to gain from it?

Prospective graduate students may wish to pursue a graduate degree to further enhance their career and gain an edge in the job market. For others, it is their chosen professions that dictate them to earn a graduate degree simply because it is standard within their field.

+ What are the types of degrees available?

  1. Master’s Degree – Master’s degrees come in many forms. These include a taught-master’s, exam-based, research and proficiency program requirements. A taught-type master’s entails students passing a program of studies and may include a thesis at the end. An exam-based program is one in which the student must complete coursework and pass a final examination. For the research-focused master’s, students are required to submit a research proposal and state the professor(s) s/he would like to work alongside. The student must submit a thesis based on research they conducted alone, with less or no focus on coursework. For creative majors such as art or music, students may undertake a proficiency program, which requires the student to demonstrate proficiency in their field in order to graduate.
  2. Professional Degree – This is considered an academic degree that may be awarded at an undergraduate or graduate level. It prepares the holder for a particular career or profession and when awarded at the graduate level, it may be presented as a professional master’s or doctorate degree.
  3. Doctoral Degree – A doctoral degree is usually considered the highest degree awarded and may either be a taught or research focused program, and usually requires completion of academic studies, comprehensive examination and dissertation.
  4. Post-Doctorate – These are advanced studies, training or research in a particular area and are not considered to be degrees.

+ How do I choose a program that is suitable for me?

A great deal of research is required when choosing an appropriate graduate program. Essential deciding factors to consider include the nature of the program – i.e. whether it is research-based or centered on applied work; whether it is accredited by a reputable society; cost of the program; whether the degree will effectively lead to the desired outcome; and what it will do to boost your career; as well as duration and location of the program.

+ How do I finance my program?

When researching your program, make sure you familiarize with internal and external financial aid and funding opportunities. Internal financial aid and funding are offered by the university or by an affiliate; whereas, external funding are provided by organizations, associations, or companies that have no affiliation with the university (e.g. Fulbright, Chevening, etc.). Financial aid and funding may include fellowships – achievement-based awards that are extremely competitive; assistantships – in exchange for part-time teaching, research or working in student affairs, a part-time or full-time tuition waiver is granted, loans – many loans are offered to graduate students with special interest rates and are available through the financial aid office of the university.

+ What is the application process like?

Applications for universities require fees and have deadlines. It is important to make a note of key deadline dates on your calendar. Check the university’s website well in advance to the date you wish to commence your studies to collect the required material including transcripts and recommendation letters, write the required application essays and register for the required tests. Complete the application form precisely as instructed and deliver it on time. Make sure the application fee is correct in currency and amount.

+ What do I include in my Personal Statement?

The Personal Statement is among the determining factors in the selection process. The decisions of the admissions committee rely heavily on the contents of the personal statement. In general, a personal statement must include your interest and motivation for joining this program, the qualifications you possess that make you a strong candidate, a description of obstacles you have overcome, your desired career goals and any personal characteristics that may enhance your prospects of being accepted.

+ What are the types of recommendation letters that I need to provide and how do I go about asking for them?

Part of the university’s required materials are recommendation letters. There are several types, including academic, personal and employment. As part of your research, you must be aware of the type of recommendation letters requested and the deadline for submitting them. Ask for your recommendation letters at least one month in advance from people who know your qualifications. Put your request in writing with detailed guidelines of the letter and attach any materials that may assist them in writing the letter. These include a CV, a deadline date for when the letter must be submitted, and a Thank You note for their help.