Wisconsin's Public Liberal Arts College

Graduate School

Graduate School

Career Services

Graduate School

Thinking About Graduate School?

Below you will find resources from deciding to financing. UWS Career Services has compiled helpful websites, tips, and tools to make your graduate school exploration and discovery a success.

Deciding To Go To Graduate School


Consider the following questions:

Why do you want to go to graduate school?  Is it for the right reasons?
What are your career goals?  Will graduate school assist you in meeting these goals?
What will you specialize in?  What are your interests?  What are you passionate about?
Do you have the motivation for another two to seven years of school?
Do you have the academic and personal qualities and discipline to succeed?
Do you have the money and time?
Do you need work experience before graduate school?
What have you done in undergrad to prepare you for graduate school?


Master's Degree (M.A., M.S., L.L.M., MFA, MBA, M.Ed.):                      

  • Master's degrees typically involve a great deal of classroom participation and interaction with colleagues
  • Take between two and four  years to complete, and your field of interest may require you to take a qualifying exam after degree completion
  • Such a degree is mandatory for some positions

Doctoral Degree (Ph.D, Psy.D, Ed.D, D.D.S., M.D., J.D.):

  • Doctoral degrees tend to be more research  focused with much less peer-to-peer and instructor interaction
  • Can take between five and ten years, so only  those truly dedicated and motivated individuals should attempt it 
  • Those pursuing these advanced degrees do so to participate in the world of academia, function as an expert in their field, or pursue a profession that requires it

Do your research when deciding to go to graduate school.
Know which path is right for you!

Selecting A Graduate School


If you decide graduate school is for you, the next step is to decide what kind of program and where. Choosing a graduate school involves finding a program that matches your academic interests as well as your personal preferences and needs. It’s your future, so find the best fit! School Comparison Sheet

Visit college websites to gather information and write to the Graduate Division of the schools that interest you for application materials, information on financial aid, a catalog, and information on a particular program or department.


General Considerations:

Geographical: Look at the size of the school/department, the city itself, transportation, geographical location, employment opportunities in your field, cost of living, opportunities to pursue extracurricular interests.
Admissions Preferences: Does the department prefer to have their applicant fresh out of undergraduate school? Or, do they tend to prefer applicants with work experience relevant to their field?
Attrition: Do students of this graduate department frequently fail to complete their degree programs? Visit the campus and ask both faculty and students.

Faculty Considerations:

Depth of Faculty: How many faculty members do they have? Does the departments’ reputation rest heavily upon the shoulders of just one or two professors?
Diversity in the Faculty: Is there a variety of points of view in the department, or are most of the faculty members’ approach to the discipline rather single-minded?
Faculty Publications: What have the faculty members published lately? This will give you an idea of whether the faculty’s interests are similar to your own.
Availability of Faculty: Are there several big names on the faculty? If so, ask the students how often they actually see or talk with these people.

Cost Considerations:

Internships and Assistantships: Does the program have any planned practical experiences? If so, where would you be likely to work and what would you do?
Fellowships and Funds: How much fellowship money is available? How many students receive fellowships? Are you likely to be among the lucky few?

Future Development Considerations:

Ph.D. Production: How many Ph.D.’s has this department produced yearly? What is the average length of time it takes to complete the degree.
Assistance in Finding a Job: What percentage of graduates and degree candidates in the department succeed in finding employment related to their degree?
Versatility: How broad/narrow are the employment opportunities with this degree? Is there much latitude for applying this degree to other fields?

Admissions Testing

Different fields and degrees request applicants to test into the program. This testing can show what level an applicant is at and also their potential for growth once in the program. Below are common graduate tests that you may be expected to complete (check with your prospective institutions for details). Follow the links to information on testing sites, dates, and cost.

Most tests will give you practice materials to utilize prior to your testing date. But for more resources on preparing for a variety of tests from the GRE to the TOEFL, please visit the following site:

Applying To Graduate School

Let Career Services help you navigate through the challenges of the application process. We have resources for time management, preparing for the interviews, and much more.


Interview Questions

Prepare yourself for your entrance interview.

Graduate School Timeline

Manage your time as you decide, search, apply, and interview.

Further Resources

McNair Scholars Program

Paying For Graduate School


Develop a Budget – Look at your personal financial situation.  What assets are available to you?  Personal savings, family contribution, etc.  Evaluate your living expenses.


Loans - Loans come from the federal government, state government, the college/university or a private agency.  They may be need based (subsidized - have interest benefits) or non-need based (non-subsidized - no interest benefits).  Examples are Stafford Loans (subsidized/unsubsidized), Federal Perkins Loans or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP) (subsidized/unsubsidized). 

Deferments – If your loans need a deferment, payments can be deferred for many reasons.  Common deferments are: in school half time or more, unemployment, economic hardship, peace corps, teacher in a teacher shortage area, etc.  Check with the financial aid office or your loan servicer for more information, forms and the maximum length of each deferment.

Grants - Money given to students that does not need to be repaid. Pell grants are not available at the graduate level.  Colleges/universities may award grant money to help students in financial need.

Fellowships – Money given to students that does not need to be repaid.  Fellowships generally pay for all your tuition and books, plus give you an annual amount to live on (Ex: $15,000/year).  These may be given in 4 year increments or 1 year – be sure to check how long the fellowship is for.  

Assistantships – Sometimes called TA’s (Teaching Assistantship), RA’s (Research Assistantships), GA’s (Graduate Assistantships) or PA’s (Project Assistantships).  These are paid positions where you work for a department teaching, doing research, correcting papers, etc.   

Scholarships  - Money given to students that does not need to be repaid.  These are given for reasons such as financial need, academic or athletic abilities, clubs/affiliations you or your parents are involved in (Boy Scouts, Religious or Tribal affiliations, etc.)

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