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Grad School Information

Selecting a graduate school is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. In addition to the info we have gathered for you here, we offer graduate school info sessions throughout the year and have an advisor, Carolyn DeHority (cbdoce@rit.edu), who can help provide information about the graduate school process.

Contents

  1. Why Consider Graduate School?
  2. Research Your Field of Interest
  3. Finding Graduate Schools
  4. What to Look For in a Graduate Program and School
  5. Graduate Admissions Tests
  6. Personal Statement Essay
  7. Grad School Checklist
  8. Financial Aid
    1. Assistantships
    2. Fellowships / Scholarships / Grants
    3. Work-Study
    4. Loans
    5. Employer Financed Schooling
    6. Links-Financial Aid for Graduate School
  9. Additional Graduate School Application Information

Why Consider Graduate School?

Some reasons to consider graduate school include:

  • Doing advanced work in a field you enjoy
  • Training for a specialized career field (law, medicine, social work, teaching, etc.)
  • Advancing your career and increasing your earning potential
  • Changing career fields

Questionable reasons to attend graduate school:

  • I don’t know what to do next
  • I don’t want to look for a job
  • I don’t like my current job and need a change
  • Someone else thinks I should do this

Research Your Field of Interest

Researching your field of interest will help to determine if the chosen career field requires a graduate degree. An advanced degree may help you get a job or advance in your field. It can help you earn a higher salary, and achieve other goals such as specializing in your field, publishing, consulting, etc. Research carefully; sometimes an advanced degree can make you overqualified.

Most people study a field that is of interest or will allow them to continue in their field of undergraduate study. Think about what you are interested in and what gets you excited. Talk with faculty in your undergraduate program to get some ideas. Do informational interviews and talk with people working in fields that interest you to learn more about those careers. Do research on various career fields and do some self-assessment to learn more about your skills, interests, values and goals.

Finding Graduate Schools

There are many resources, including on-line directories, college web sites and internet search sites.  Speak with faculty members, alumni and other students to learn about schools that have the type of program you want.  Talk with family members and friends who may have attended some schools worth considering.

Some helpful sites:

Business School:

Law School:

Medicine:

What to Look For in a Graduate Program and School

When you are looking at schools and programs, consider some of the following:

  • Career Goals - What is your goal and will a graduate degree help you?
  • Degree Program – What courses are taught? What type of research will you conduct?
  • Location – Where are you willing to live while attending school?
  • Faculty – Who are the faculty and what are their backgrounds? What kind of research have they done and how many publications do they have?
  • Facilities – Are the labs, research and computer facilities up to date? What facilities are available to graduate students?
  • Reputation - Consider the reputation http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/rankindex.htm of the program and the faculty at each college. Another ratings site is phds.org
  • Campus Environment – What size is the school and the program? Try to visit the campus and speak with faculty, current students, admissions and financial aid representatives. Does the campus environment feel comfortable to you?
  • Graduate Internships – Are internships a required part of the degree program? Ask where students have done their internships. Does the school help with finding these opportunities?
  • Application requirements – Find out the admissions requirements (GPA, test scores, etc.) What is the application deadline? Is a personal statement or essay required?
  • Placement information - Ask to see the placement information for past graduates of the program to find out the placement rate, the types of jobs and which companies graduates worked at upon graduation, and salaries graduates received.
  • Cost – Create a budget for each school, including tuition, room & board, books, fees and living expenses and determine if you can afford to attend each college you are considering.
  • Financial Aid – Check with the Financial Aid Office at every school to learn what they offer to graduate students. Learn more about Financial Aid here

Graduate Admissions Tests

Check with every college to find out which admissions test is required. This will depend upon the college and the program to which you are applying. Some programs do not require a graduate admissions test. You can find out what is required by reading the application materials for each college or by calling the Graduate Admissions Office. Make sure you practice the tests before taking them! Practice tests are offered by the web sites for the different tests, as well as books that you can purchase or borrow from the library. Part of the decision for acceptance to a program will likely depend upon your test scores.

Common Tests

Many graduate admissions tests are offered throughout the year and can be taken on-line. It is good to take them early, to have the scores to submit with your applications or if you want to take the tests over to improve your scores.

Personal Statement Essay

Most graduate schools will ask you to write a personal statement or essay as part of the application process. This is an important part of the application which will be read by an admissions committee in the academic department to which you are applying. The committee members will look for your well thought-out goals for pursuing graduate school and your passion for this field of study. They also will look for anything unique about you that will make you a strong graduate school candidate. It can be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted or not, so always understand the importance of this statement/essay.

In your statement, you can:

  • Show how well you articulate your thoughts. Are you a clear and logical thinker?
  • Demonstrate your writing ability and your communication skills
  • Describe your strengths, interests, skills and experience
  • Tell your short and long-term goals
  • Tell why you are interested in this specific graduate program
  • Provide more information about you as a person, which can give you the edge over other candidates
  • Be specific about your research interests and how that school’s program of study matches with your interests.
  • Explain any noticeable weaknesses in your records

Take the time to write your statement well. Make sure you have a professor read your statement and give you feedback before you submit it. The RIT Writing Commons can assist you with writing and editing your personal statement/essay. https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/writing/about-us

Grad School Checklist

Spring / Summer before Final Undergraduate Year (Note: earlier deadline for Medical School applications)

  • Start to identify programs and colleges of interest
  • Research college web sites for degree information & on-line applications
  • Make note of deadlines for each college
  • Determine graduate entrance exam requirements and begin to prepare
  • Investigate national scholarships

September / October before you start graduate school.

  • Continue to research programs
  • Take appropriate standardized tests.
  • Write draft of personal statement / essay
  • Research financial aid, assistantships, scholarships, etc.
  • Request letters of recommendation from faculty members and supervisors
  • Attend graduate school fairs and events

November / December before you start graduate school

  • Finalize personal statement / essay; have it critiqued by a faculty member.  The RIT Writing Commons can assist with writing and editing your personal statement/essay https://www.rit.edu/academicaffairs/writing/about-us
  • Complete applications
  • Submit requests for official transcripts to the Registrar’s Office to send with your applications
  • Continue to research financial aid opportunities
  • Submit applications at least one month before deadlines; earlier for colleges with rolling admission deadlines – this can help with early acceptance decisions and financial awards
  • Write thank you notes to each person who wrote a letter of recommendation for you

January / February / March / April before you start graduate school

  • Contact schools to set up a visit and interview with academic departments of interest
  • Fill out the FAFSA Financial Form. Fill out any other Financial Aid forms the schools require
  • Check with all colleges prior to their deadlines to make sure your application has been received and is complete
  • Review acceptances / wait list offers
  • Discuss opportunities with Carolyn DeHority in the Career Services and Co-op Office and/or faculty members if you need help
  • Make decision and notify college you have selected – send your deposit
  • Withdraw applications from all other colleges

Financial Aid

Graduate school is expensive and financial aid is an important part of the decision making process. Check with the Financial Aid Office at each college to determine the types of funding available for which you are eligible. Funding is often provided by the academic departments.

Assistantships

These typically offer a tuition waiver or reduction and some level of stipend for living expenses.

  • Teaching Assistantships: You assist a professor in class or you teach a class of your own. Typically involves working 10 to 20 hours per week.
  • Research Assistantships: You assist a professor with some type of research. The work is often related to your own research interests.
  • Other Assistantships: There may be graduate assistantships available working in offices such as Financial Aid or Career Services. You may help students, assist with office work or present to groups of students.
  • Resident Assistantships: Some colleges offer a stipend, room and board, or both to have graduate students work as assistants in undergraduate residence halls.

Fellowships / Scholarships / Grants

These are cash awards usually given to students with special qualifications, such as academic excellence, athletic or artistic talent. They do not have to be repaid. They typically include a stipend for living expenses and cover the cost of registration fees and tuition. The only requirement is that you typically must keep your grades up and make satisfactory progress towards your degree.

Work-Study

This is not offered at every graduate school. This type of financial aid is for students with financial need. Check with the Financial Aid Office about requirements and to determine if you are eligible if it is available.

Loans

A loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. There are several different types of student loans, including Stafford Student Loans, Perkins Loans and Plus Loans. Many private lenders offer loans. These are based on pre-set policies and formulas and on the student’s financial need. For more information check out https://studentaid.ed.gov/types/loans

Employer Financed Schooling

Some employers will provide partial or full tuition reimbursement, depending upon the relevance of the course work to the employee’s job and the grades that the person achieves in these courses. If you are employed, check with your employer or human resources department to see if this benefit is offered.

Links-Financial Aid for Graduate School

Additional Graduate School Application Information