If your eye is on graduate or professional school, it is wise to spend time considering your goals and career plans. Graduate study involves a significant commitment of time and resources, so it is important to pursue it with a clear vision. 

Graduate Degree Types

Graduate education delivers specialized knowledge in a concentrated area, with two basic degree types: academic and professional. An academic degree involves research and scholarship in a discipline; a professional degree provides training to acquire skills and knowledge for a particular profession. There are three basic degree levels:

  • Master’s degrees are offered in almost every field, although some universities only offer doctoral programs in certain fields.
  • Specialist degrees are usually completed in addition to a master’s program and often require additional training or internship experience. This type of degree prepares you for professional certification or licensing.
  • Doctoral studies usually require original research for an academic program or practical application of knowledge and skills in a professional program.

Is Graduate School for Me?

Before applying, familiarize yourself with employment prospects and other requirements of your field. Consult with faculty and Career and Professional Development to estimate your readiness, and whether your skills and abilities have prepared you for success.

Then ask yourself: "Is graduate study necessary to accomplish my goals?" If the answer is yes, the resources here will help you plan.

Research Programs

Before you apply to graduate school, it is critical to learn more about programs, their offerings, requirements and the application process. Here are some things to consider.


Connect with Graduate Programs

The annual Graduate & Professional School Fair in the fall is your opportunity to meet with admissions representatives to learn more about programs they offer. 

Top 3 Reasons You Should Connect with Admissions Representatives in Person

  • Educate yourself: Meeting with representatives from graduate and professional schools visiting St. Edward's University can help you identify programs that are the right match for you. 
  • Get Prepared: Ask specific questions about application procedures and find out what schools/programs look for in prospective students.
  • Connect Personally: Make face-to-face connections with school representatives and get the personal attention you can’t get online. 

Application Timeline

Below is a suggested timeline for applying to graduate schools — from starting your research  through acceptance. 

Application Process

Once you have narrowed your choice of graduate or professional programs, you are encouraged to start the application process as early as possible.

Get a Head Start

Applying early can be an advantage especially if a program has rolling admissions and can sometimes affect the amount of funding available. 

Assess Your Application Components

Certain application components tend to be standard from program to program. They include:

Some programs require supplementary material such as a writing sample, portfolio, resume or audition. Understand what is required, and prepare accordingly.

Explore Postgraduate Fellowships

Before your begin further study or become employed, you may consider short-term academic or workplace opportunities that last for one or two years. These unique and challenging opportunities can help you further discover your interests and differentiate yourself.

Exploring Fellowships & One- or Two-Year Options

There are two main kinds of postgraduate fellowships:

  • Academic: Include opportunities for graduate study or independent research.
  • Workplace: Many workplace fellowships and one- or two-year options that offer paid placement or funding for working in corporate, public interest or international organizations, among others. Visit Hilltop Careers to explore a range of options promoted through the University.

Deadlines for these options begin as early as September of your senior year, so start researching early.

Funding Graduate School

Financial support does exist for graduate study. Be sure to conduct a comprehensive research as well as follow-up on your part.