Graduate School

You can begin a graduate program after completing your bachelor’s degree. A graduate degree or certificate can provide you with opportunities for career advancement, networking, research, and the development of specialized skills.

Types of Graduate Degrees

  • A master’s degree, such as an M.A., M.S., or M.B.A., usually takes 1 to 3 years of full-time study in a specialized field.
  • A doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. or Ed.D., is the highest level of education in most fields. It usually includes research and a dissertation. It takes many years (often 4 to 8 years) to complete.
  • Some professions require specialized degrees, like an M.D. for a medical doctor or a J.D. for a lawyer.
  • Graduate certificates are shorter programs in a specialized field.

Should You Go to Grad School?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Grad school can provide you with additional opportunities, but it can require a large commitment of time and money. Consider:

  • What are your career goals? Will a graduate degree help you enter or advance in your field? Will your salary increase after completing your graduate degree, and if so, by how much?
  • What do you want to study? Are you passionate about the subject?
  • How much time will you need to commit to the program? Will you study full-time or part-time?
  • How will the program impact your finances? Can you earn scholarships and financial aid? Would you need to take out loans? Can you work while earning your degree?

Preparing for Grad School

As early as possible, you will need to determine your goals. Figure out what skills, experience, and coursework you should attain during your undergraduate education. Most graduate programs expect you to earn high grades, complete certain foundational courses, and develop strong writing skills. Some programs prioritize students who have research experience.

Some grad schools require standardized test scores. The GRE is used by many graduate programs, the MCAT is common for medical school, and the LSAT is specific to law school. If your desired program requires one or more of these tests, prepare yourself by studying and completing practice tests. You will need to register and pay for the test in advance, then take it in-person at a testing center. The MSU Denver Graduate School Entrance Exam Program can provide financial assistance for entrance exams and study materials.

You will also need recommendations from your professors and other mentors, so be sure to cultivate positive relationships with them during your undergraduate years.

Choosing a Grad School

Research the options in your field of interest. Pay attention to the reputation of the school and faculty, the available research and work opportunities, the location, the cost, and the available scholarships and financial aid. Some grad programs are completely online, others are in-person, and others offer a combination of online and in-person options.

It is important to pick an accredited school. If your school is not accredited, you may not be able to transfer credits or be eligible for financial aid. Also, employers and professional licensing boards may not recognize your degree.

Did you know that MSU Denver has multiple accredited graduate programs?

Applying to Grad School

Once you have identified your preferred programs, it is time to apply for admission. Refer to the school’s website to locate application deadlines and materials. You may need to submit materials such as transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendations, personal essays, and/or a resume. Gathering these documents can be time-consuming, so begin as early as possible.

After you submit your application, track its status and make sure there are no problems or additional steps.

If you receive acceptance letters, consider all of your offers and financial aid opportunities before you make your decision. The school should then provide you with information about the next steps in your journey.

For support and financial assistance, refer to the MSU Denver Graduate Application Success Program.