Graduate School Planning

Are you interested in pursuing further education after you graduate from Emmanuel? There are a variety of things to consider when determining if and when graduate school is the right career move for you.

The first and most critical step in determining whether graduate school is right for you is to understand your career goals.

Some goals are straight forward:
Lawyer = Law School
Doctor = Medical School

For many however, selecting a degree program is more nuanced. Having a firm understanding of what career you are pursuing will make selecting a degree program more clear. If graduate school is your next step, you should be able to answer the question:

What career are you trying to unlock with a graduate degree?

If answering this question is difficult, meeting with your Career Advisor is recommended.

Deciding to go to graduate school is a big decision, it is a lot of work and you will be in a specific program. It isn’t like undergrad where you can change majors or are unsure of what you want to do. If you want to go to graduate school take the time to consider the pros and cons and necessity.

Will this benefit you in the short or long term?

Does your career require you to return to school or get an advanced degree?

If not, you’ll want to think about your motivation and the reasons why you want an advanced degree. It should be a well thought out and planned decision and don’t forget about the cost!

  • You are on a career path that requires you to gain a Master’s degree or PhD.
    • Common careers that require this include: Social Work, Pharmacy, Mental Health Counseling, Teaching, Biochemist, Biophysicist, Veterinarian & Physical Therapist.
  • You know your career path and how you would apply your degree to your career
  • You have a clear understanding of what you want out of a graduate program
  • You are willing to invest the money or your company is covering the cost
  • You want to continue your education and gain skills that would benefit your career
  • If you had a GPA of 3.0 & above in college

Timing is everything, once you have determined that graduate school is right for you, the next question you should ask yourself is, “when?”

Is your goal to pursue additional education directly after graduation, or is it to wait a few years? There is no correct answer, but it is important to remember that the timeline should be determined by your career goals. For many programs, working in the field for a few years will make you are stronger candidate. While others are frequently pursued after graduate.

Pros of going straight to Grad School from Undergrad:

  • You’re already used to studying, writing papers and course loads
  • You may not yet have financial worries such as a mortgage or family at this time
  • Motivation to learn is still fresh (unless you had senioritis)

Cons of going straight to Grad School from Undergrad:

  • You may already have a good amount of debt, taking on more could be difficult in the long term
  • You miss out on experience and time breaking into the field, you miss out on networking and connecting to other professionals already working
  • Without relevant work experience in the field you may not be able to apply what you learn to real life work experiences making your degree less useful

Pros of going to Grad School after gaining some work experience:

  • Prior work experience can give you better understanding of your work and career goals
  • You may be considered more competitive in the application process
  • Your employer may reimburse some or all of your tuition

Cons of going to Grad School after gaining some work experience:

  • If you plan to attend full time you may find it hard to live on a student budget again since you will only be able to work part time

Other points to consider:

  • Work full time and take graduate classes at night or online (consider this if you have taken online classes before or if your schedule allows for it)
  • Completing a degree part-time could take a long time and can rack up costs
  • Some colleges offer graduate assistantships/fellowships, research or teaching assistantships – (Keep reading for more info on that!)

Once you determine the time frame you would like to begin graduate school, the following timeline can be implemented:

# of Months Prior to Application DeadlineActivity
12-18Research and Identify programs
12-18Study and sit for entrance exams
6-9Begin Application

Request Recommendations

Start working on Personal Statement
3Finalize Application

Finalize Personal Statement
1Ensure all application materials have been submitted including Recommendations and entrance exam scores.

  • Test scores (if applicable)
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation (3)
  • Personal Statement or essay prompts to follow
  • Resume

  • Carefully research the cost of graduate school or figure out funding for it before committing, usually its financed by loans and you want the program to be worth it
  • Consider how long the program will take, where will you be 5 years from now? Where do you want to be? Programs can range from 1-3 years (depending on the program) if you find a program with 4 years or more really consider if its worth it for your career…
  • Attend info sessions or graduate fairs to find out more
  • Ask to sit in on a class or speak with a graduate admissions office to get more info
  • Speak to professionals, alumni, friends, family and professors who have attended
  • Consider volunteer services, internships or additional experience in your field
  • Speak with your Career Advisor!

The McCafferty Career Center can help you to:

  • Determine if graduate school is right for you
  • Develop an application timeline
  • Prepare for a graduation school interview
  • Review your resume if required

The writing specialists at the ARC can help you to:

  • Develop and review your personal statement
  • Each school you apply to will usually have its own prompt for a personal statement
  • Create an outline for ideas/topics and what points you want to make in your essay
  • Personal Statements should speak to why you’re applying, your short- & long-term goals, why this specific college/program is a good match for you and how it will help you reach your career

Faculty in your Department

  • Identify programs related to your field
  • Give insight and perspective into attending graduate school

Similar to applying to college or a job there are many factors to consider! When you’re ready, use the next few pages to track your research and narrow down programs, costs & schools you’re interested in.

Places to search:


  • What type of graduate program do you want to apply to?
  • Read through each program and the curriculum, timeline, cost and application requirements
  • List the application requirements and materials for each program
  • Make a list of schools, consider location (Keep in mind many schools don’t offer housing)
  • Attend an open house or info session (Sometimes you can get an application fee waiver that covers the cost of the application.)
  • Deadlines for each program
  • What tests will you need to complete & what are the testing sites/dates?
  • What is the cost of each program? Look at the application fee and tuition & fees per year
  • List any additional financial aid requirements/scholarships you’ve found & want to apply to

Graduate Research, Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships are other options you may want to consider.

What is it?

Similar to scholarships and fellowships, Graduate Research/Teaching Assistantships are a great opportunity to gain skills and work while also attending school with some financial coverage. These roles are for students to perform work at a college/university in order to receive tuition remission, a stipend or other funding in exchange for their work from the college/university. These amounts vary by institution.

Teaching Assistantships: Work in the college classrooms. Their duties include assisting the professor with the class, leading discussions, teaching their own classes and holding office hours or tutoring sessions.

Research Assistantships: Collaborate with professors on research projects, common in STEM fields and students may be required to help in the lab.

Graduate Assistantships: Responsible for tasks related to school administration. They can work in different departments in Higher Education such as Student Affairs, Athletics, Student Activities, Multicultural Centers and more.

Tell me more!

Sometimes you may receive benefits such as parking/food/insurance. If interested, check out a college’s website to apply. They are competitive! Ask your Career Advisor for more info!

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Leslie Ferrick McCafferty Career Center
WSC 316
400 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


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