All of our faculty have successfully completed advanced degrees in Biology. If you are curious about Graduate School be sure to ask your advisor how to best prepare now to get accepted to the program of your choice later. The following information comes from the University of California Berkeley's Career Center:
What is Graduate School?
Graduate school constitutes an advanced program of study focused on a particular academic discipline or profession. Traditionally, graduate school has been "academic" (centered on generating original research in a particular discipline), but it may be "professional" (centered on developing skills and knowledge for a specific profession), or a combination of both.
How is Graduate School Different from Undergraduate Education?
Compared to undergraduate studies, graduate school is a more concentrated course of study and expectations regarding the quality and quantity of your academic work are greater. Graduate programs also entail:
- focused studies in a specific discipline with fewer elective possibilities
- rigorous evaluation of your work by professors and peers
- smaller classes with much student interaction
- work experience via internships, teaching, or research
- production of original research is often required
What Graduate Degrees are available?
Graduate degrees are available in almost any subject and come in three levels-Master, Specialist, and Doctorate. Depending on the graduate school program and degree level you desire, your program requirements and length will vary.
- Master's degrees are offered in many fields of study. Some are designed to lead to a doctoral degree while others are the "terminal" degree for a profession (e.g., Master of Library Science; Master of Business Administration). For full-time students, completing a master's degree usually takes 2-3 years.
- Specialist degrees are usually earned in addition to a master's degree and will require additional coursework, training, or internship experience. This type of degree usually prepares students for professional certification or licensing requirements (e.g., Ed.S. for school principal).
- Doctoral degrees are the highest degrees possible. They usually require the creation of new knowledge via independent research - be it basic or applied. Including the time it takes to write and defend a dissertation, this degree may take anywhere from 5-7 years to complete.
How Do I Choose a School?
Once you have made the decision to go to graduate school, the next step is to research programs that match your interests and fit your needs. Don't limit yourself at this point, but instead gather information on a broad range of programs.
- Consult sites such as these for researching graduate and professional schools:
- Visit UL's Graduate School to see how we do things here.
- Contact programs directly to get more detailed program information such as courses, professors, costs, financial aid and application forms.
- Conduct informational interviews with current graduate students, professionals, and faculty in the graduate programs you are considering to gain insider information.
Evaluate Programs - Factors to Consider
- Reputation of the Faculty - What are their academic degrees/credentials and research specialties? What is the student/faculty ratio? Look at faculty websites if available.
- Quality of the Program - This is measured by many different factors, many of which are mentioned below. You may choose to look at graduate school rankings to help you assess a program's quality; however, the rankings may be based on criteria that are different from your own. What's more, many scholars, deans, and advisors question the validity of such rankings.
- Financial Costs - What are the opportunities for fellowships, assistantships, or scholarships? What other sources of financial aid are available?
- Admission Requirements - GPA test scores, undergraduate coursework, specific entrance examinations, etc.
- Available Course Offerings - Are courses you need to fulfill degree requirements frequently offered? Will the course offerings help you meet your professional or educational goals?
- Employment - Where are graduates of the program working, and how much are they earning?
- Facilities - Consider the quality of on-site facilities such as libraries, computer labs, and research facilities.
- Geographic Location - Will studying in a particular location help you meet personal or professional goals?
- Student Life - Consider the diversity of students, student organizations, housing, and campus support services.
Outstanding Senior Students Program
If you are considering graduate school, you may be interested in getting graduate course credits while still a senior at UL. Qualified seniors have the option to take a maximum of 6 hours of graduate credit per semester while finishing their bachelor’s degree. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit the Graduate School webpage.