Going to Graduate School

Graduates waiting to enter Carver Gym wearing their caps and gowns

Graduate School FAQ

People pursue graduate studies for a variety of reasons. Some do it simply because they want to deepen their knowledge in a subject they are passionate about. Others require a graduate degree in order to prepare for their future careers, whether that is in an academic environment or a profession such as medicine or law. ​

Graduate school is different than undergrad in that it will give you an opportunity to really focus on a subject area with others who are also passionate about your field. Grad school is an intense experience and generally includes research and more in-depth study than undergraduate coursework. There are typically more financial support options for grad school as well, including working as a teaching or graduate assistant. You do not have to pursue graduate study in the same field as your undergraduate degree. ​

It is not necessary to apply to graduate school immediately following your undergraduate degree – in fact many programs prefer that applicants have some work experience before they begin a graduate program. In addition, you can pursue graduate study in a different subject area than your undergraduate degree, although having some related work and/or academic experience is very beneficial.​

For more specific questions about grad school, it can be helpful to talk to faculty on campus who work in your chosen subject area. Professors are often very helpful with identifying schools to apply to, finding letters of recommendation, and assisting with writing personal statements or writing samples. If you are pursuing a PhD, it is essential that you work with faculty in your chosen discipline to help guide you. ​

For more questions, schedule an appointment with a grad school advisor.

The graduate school advisors are generalists who can talk through your thoughts about pursuing grad school and provide resources about choosing a program, finding financial support, and understanding the application process. If your application includes an interview, consider scheduling a practice graduate school interview with the Graduate and Pre-Professional Programs Advisors at 360-650-4240. Please note that we may not be able to accommodate short notice requests. 

Applying to Graduate or Professional School​

Writing a CV​

A CV or curriculum vitae is essentially a biographical resume, commonly used among professionals in academic, scientific, medical and research settings.​ Learn how to craft your CV and have it reviewed before applying.​

Writing Personal Statements​

​The personal statement is a key component for application to educational programs and financial support and includes a brief history about yourself, your academic and career goals. Learn strategies to write an impactful statement.​

Obtaining Letters of Recommendation​

​Letters of recommendation are a critical component of an application and provide insight from another person’s perspective of your abilities and preparedness for the discipline. Find out the best way to obtain yours.

Graduate Entrance Exams​

​Many graduate programs require an admission test as a component of the application. Find out what to expect for each exam.​

Practice Interview​

​If your application includes an interview, consider scheduling a practice graduate school interview with the Graduate/Pre-Professional Programs Advisors. ​

Speaking with Graduate & Professional School Reps​

​Speaking with graduate and professional school representatives is a great way to learn more about a program and the application process. Here are some tips for having effective conversations.​

How is graduate school different from my undergraduate years?​

  • Grad school gives you an opportunity to really focus on a subject area with others who are also passionate about your field. 

  • Grad school is an intense experience and generally includes research and more in-depth study than undergraduate coursework. ​

  • There are typically more financial support options for grad school as well, including working as a teaching or graduate assistant. ​

  • You do not have to pursue graduate study in the same field as your undergraduate degree. 

When should I apply to graduate school?​

  • It is not necessary to apply to graduate school immediately following your undergraduate degree – in fact many programs prefer that applicants have some work experience before they begin a graduate program. ​

  • In addition, you can pursue graduate study in a different subject area than your undergraduate degree, although having some related work and/or academic experience is very beneficial.​

How do I start the process to apply to graduate school?

  • For more specific questions about grad school, it can be helpful to talk to faculty on campus who work in your chosen subject area.​

  • Professors are often very helpful with identifying schools to apply to, finding letters of recommendation, and assisting with writing personal statements or writing samples. ​

  • If you are pursuing a PhD, it is essential that you work with faculty in your chosen discipline to help guide you. ​

  • For more questions, schedule an appointment with a grad school advisor.

How can our Graduate School Advisors help you?

  • The graduate school advisors are generalists who can talk through your thoughts about pursuing grad school and provide resources about choosing a program, finding financial support, and understanding the application process.​

  • If your application includes an interview, consider scheduling a practice graduate school interview with the Graduate and Pre-Professional Programs Advisors at 360-650-4240. Please note that we may not be able to accommodate short notice requests.