Increased work load, i.e. reading 150 pages or more per class, per week.
Expectations of independent work and self-discipline.
Specific programs with set curriculums.
Academic standards that require a 'B' average or above.
Credits are usually not transferable from one institution or program to another. It is best to carefully research programs before enrolling.
Many graduate and professional schools now prefer applicants who have had some relevant experiences beyond their undergraduate years. Schools of journalism, law, business, social work, education, counseling, and others are notable examples (Figler). Take the time to explore all your alternatives. Before making a commitment, get practical exposure to areas of work that interest you. Summer employment, volunteer positions, informational interviews, shadowing, and internships are excellent exploration and enrichment opportunities. Be aware of the requirements of the graduate program you are considering. (Asher, 2002).
What types of degrees and programs are available?
According to Petersons Guide to Graduate and Professional Programs (2002-2003) master's degrees are offered in most fields. A professional master's degree provides experience in research and scholarship. An academic or research degree may be a terminal degree (meaning no further degrees are required) or a step toward the Ph.D. A Masters Degree usually takes one to two years to complete on a full-time basis (6-15 credits per semester). The total number of credits required for graduation will be determined by the program of specialization and the university requirements. The types of degrees include research-based programs, such as: Masters of Science (MS), Masters of Arts (MA), Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Masters of Fine Arts ( MFA), Masters in Library Science ( MLS), Masters in Social Work ( MSW), and Masters in Divinity (MDiv). Also, dual-degree options are expanding.
The three typical types of programs are:
Coursework & Thesis/Project - This type of program requires an independent research project which the student designs, carries out, writes and defends before a committee of professors.
Coursework & Exams - The format provides students with the option of taking comprehensive examinations rather than writing a thesis.
Coursework & Internships - These programs require an internship in a supervised experiential learning situation, usually on a part-time basis. The student may spend one or two semesters working in a setting related to the field.
Some institutions offer a master's/doctoral degree combination. This "package" is worth exploring.
A Doctoral Degree usually requires four to six years to complete. The type of degrees include: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), the highest earned academic degree requiring the pursuit of original research and a thesis; Doctor of Education (Ed.D); Doctor of Business Administration (DBA); Doctor of Medicine (MD); Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD - law degree).
Requirements for a doctoral degree may include:
Comprehensive examinations covering coursework.
A dissertation involving an original, independent research project. It must be judged to be a significant contribution to the student's field and is usually presented to a faculty committee.
Practical experience of a year's duration, especially in applied programs such as counseling, clinical psychology, nursing, or social work.
Some professors may require a licensing procedure, i.e., a bar exam or state license exam.