Graduate and

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Making the choice to attend graduate school and sift through hundreds of programs in your field can be very complicated. We are here to simplify. Use the FAQ below to get your burning questions answered. Don’t see an answer to your question, email us at CSLD@sfsu.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Take some time to investigate your field of interest before applying. Talk to alumni or professors in the field and read resources on the subject. Enthusiasm about your field will help you keep up with demands of graduate life.

Some careers in medicine, law, psychology, education and science/technology require an advanced degree. A graduate degree can also enhance your earning power—and can influence how far and fast you will advance—in a variety of fields. Determining why you would like to obtain a graduate degree (e.g., more knowledge, increased pay, greater advancement potential, etc.) in the beginning can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration in the end.

Saving money for a few years, or obtaining loans, grants, fellowships or assistantships, are a few options to pay for graduate school. Undergraduate students should note that, although costs of attendance may be significantly higher, often FAFSA awards will much greater for graduate study. You may even find certain foundations that provide funding for graduate school in your field. Make sure to inquire about funding through the graduate department you are interested in applying to, as well as professional associations and the SF State's Financial Aid Office.

Some people find that taking time off after college to "discover themselves" and/or gain work experience helps them to more clearly define their career goals. They may also develop a better perspective on life and have renewed energy to invest in more education. Moreover, some graduate schools, such as business, won't accept students without some prior work experience in the field.

Some students want to continue school because they don't feel ready to meet the demands of "real life" or are not clear as to what career to pursue. Graduate school is a large commitment of time, energy and money. Most bachelor's graduates who continue school because they lack career direction will only find themselves that much more lost when they finish. You would do best to take time to evaluate your reasons for graduate school before committing to a program.

Some programs require you to attend full-time and it may be difficult to get some types of financial aid without attending full-time. Attending school part-time does allow you to work in the field, earn money and complete your degree, but over a longer time period. You may even work in an organization that is willing to reimburse your graduate school costs, so keep this in mind when looking for employment while you are in school.

Intelligence, initiative and self-discipline, as well as time management skills, focus and persistence are critical to graduate work. Most graduate programs will require that you maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. The ability to establish good working relationships with fellow students, faculty and internship mentors is also important.

If you decide to attend graduate school directly out of college, you will most likely still be in 'study mode.' Many students also find it easier to finance graduate school when there aren't other major financial obligations such as marriage, mortgages or children. Undergraduate loans can be deferred when attending graduate school, too. Going to graduate school after a few years of work, on the other hand, allows time to earn some money and gain some experience in your field. Both decisions are good depending on the time, money, experience and energy you have to dedicate to graduate school.

Online Resources

  • Princeton Review: For general information about grad school programs, admissions, and entry exams.

  • Gradschools.com:: For a directory of graduate schools and programs.

  • US News and World Report: For graduate program ranking information and statistics.

  • GoGrad: For general information about online graduate school programs in various fields.

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