Depending on your career and life plans, graduate school will make sense for you at different stages – immediately after graduation, after a few years of professional experience, or much later in life. The resources below will help you clarify why you are considering graduate school, whether and when it would be the right path for you, and how to choose programmes that are a good fit.
At any point in your undergraduate or professional path, use these general guidelines to determine whether graduate school is the right choice for you.
|You SHOULD go to graduate school if…||Your chosen career path requires an advanced degree (e.g. medicine, education).|
|You are passionate about an academic field and would like to study it further.|
|You would like to change careers or progress faster in your current career.|
|You should NOT go to graduate school if…||You are not sure which career path to take and want some time to think.|
|You want to delay searching for a full-time job and/or going into the “real world.”|
|You are only doing it to please other people (family, friends, professors, partner).|
When graduate school seems to be the right choice, ask yourself these questions and discuss them with your academic and CIPE adviser:
1. What are your career or life path goals?
2. What type of advanced degree do you need to achieve them?
3. How does having a graduate degree affect employability in your field of interest – would it make you more or less likely to find a good job?
4. Can you afford to cover the costs of a graduate degree, including having to defer full-time paid employment for 1-5 years after graduation?
5. Is there a special circumstance (e.g. a scholarship bond), that makes it not possible to attend graduate school right after graduation?
6. Are you able and willing to commit to another 1-5 years of coursework that is often much more rigorous than that at the undergraduate level?
7. What are the prerequisites for a graduate degree in your chosen field (CAP, major, coursework), and how can you fulfill them by the time you graduate?
8. Have you pursued hands-on experience in your chosen field to gain a better sense of its day-to-day realities?
Find further considerations in the links below.
Peterson’s: The Graduate School Decision Basic Considerations
Pursuing Graduate School (DePauw University Hubbard Center for Student Engagement)
Idealist: How grad school is different from undergrad
Master’s vs. Ph.D.: Which is Right for You? (GradSchools.com)
Find a Ph.D.: How to Choose the Right Doctorate (Times Higher Education)
Vivek Haldar’s advice to prospective PhD students
Phil Agre’s Advice for Undergraduates Considering a PhD
After determining the type of degree and focus of study, begin to narrow down schools: do online research, speak to your advisers and professors at Yale-NUS, connect with faculty, current students, administrators and alumni of your chosen programmes. If you can, visit your schools of interest to get a sense of the overall atmosphere and meet face-to-face with faculty, students and administrators.
The Princeton Review: 4 Tips for Choosing Graduate School
Quintessential Careers: Criteria for Choosing a Graduate School
USNews: How to Narrow Down Your Business School Application List (applies to general grad school as well)
Throughout your pre-graduate school journey, you should stay in regular contact with CIPE, your major adviser, your academic adviser and Vice Rector, and any other people who are supporting you during the application process.
If you would like to visit CIPE to discuss your graduate school plans, please complete this survey first (LINK). Then, contact Zhana Sandeva (email@example.com) to schedule an appointment.
If you are fortunate to be accepted into two or more of your top choice graduate programmes, it can be difficult to decide which offer to accept. Consult with your advisers, family and friends, and don’t forget to update your recommenders on the outcome of your applications.
If you received no acceptances, there are many opportunities still open for you. Talk to CIPE and academic advisers about your options, including reapplying, full-time employment or a gap year. If you are set on reapplying to your chosen schools, reach out to their admissions committees for feedback and discuss your application with people who are familiar with it to identify areas for improvement. Most importantly, do not let the experience dampen your spirit – a “No” now can easily become a “Yes” in the next admission round. The extra time is also a good opportunity to reassess your goals and gain useful experience.