Graduate School Planning

What Does Graduate School Involve?

First of all it depends on what type of degree you are looking to pursue and what your long-term career goals are.  It involves specialized knowledge and in-depth study in one area.  Remember that all programs will be different, but in general they all involve extensive reading, writing, presentations and research.  Graduate study at the Ph.D. level is also different from that at the Masters level.  For example, a Masters degree is limited in scope and requires a much shorter time. 

Is Graduate School Right for You?

The only person who can answer this question is YOU!  You need to consider all of your options and take a serious look at what it means to go to graduate school in order to answer this question.  A good place to start is with your MOTIVATION for going to graduate school.  Ask yourself lots of questions like: 

  • Are you considering graduate school because you really don't know what you want to do and you just want to postpone a job search?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Do you need a graduate level degree to get where you want to be?
  • What are your employment opportunities?
  • Will you attend on a full-time or part-time basis?
  • Might your employer assist with finances?

How do I find the Right School?

Remember that graduate and professional programs are very specific in focus.  It is essential that you know what field of study you are interested in.  What do you expect from your program?

Although your main goal is to be in the right academic program, it is important to consider the location of the program.  For example, do you want to live in a big or small city?

Know how much financial assistance you are going to need and where you can look for assistance.

Check out what resources are available at the school with respect to your major, i.e. library and lab facilities.

Don't forget to ask trusted and knowledgeable faculty who know you and your objectives to make recommendations! Click here to view some of the recent graduate schools attended by UMM graduates.

At Princeton Review online you can:

  • research graduate schools
  • take a free practice GRE/GMAT
  • apply to graduate schools
  • learn about the financial aid process

Visit Peterson's online for information on searching for graduate programs, including distance-learning programs.  Here you will find additional information on:

  • getting startaed
  • preparing for tests
  • paying for school

Or....if you are thinking about graduate school in a biological field, you can visit:

Everything Bio an all encompassing biology resource.

Masters in Education Guide  offers a comprehensive guide to graduate programs in education.

Business Degree Online for both online and campus-based business degree programs. offers the latest advice on how to apply to graduate school successfully, both in the arts and sciences, and includes regularly updated articles on the application process, interviews with graduate program directors, and more tips straight from the experts.

Other useful links include:

Graduate Schools
Online Graduate Schools
Graduate Guide
Graduate Source
Essay Edge
Find the Best

Applying to Graduate School

Applications will be different for most schools.  Most importantly, you should adhere to deadlines and make sure that everything is filled out properly and that anything asked for is provided.  Remember that your application is a representative profile of you. The Purdue Online Writing Lab  offers excellent advice, tips and samples for all your writing purposes.

The top ranked credentials (in no particular order) needed for graduate school applications are:

  • The Statement of Purpose, also known as the admission essay, is an important part of your application; it is used to tell the admissions committee who you are, what has influenced your career path so far, your professional interests and where you plan to go from here. Additional guidance for statement of purpose.
  • GRE (or other required test) scores.
  • Academic achievements/experience
  • Undergraduate GPA (major and cumulative)

Graduate Record Examination (GRE):  Most graduate schools require the General Test and many require the Subject Test.  The GRE General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking and analytical writing skills.  The GRE Subject Tests gauge undergraduate achievement in 8 specific fields of study.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT):  The GMAT is required for most students seeking an MBA degree.  The GMAT exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills that you have developed in your education and work.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT):  The Law School Admission Test is a half-day standardized test required for admission to LSAC-member law schools, most Canadian law schools, and many non-ABA-approved law schools.  It provides a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills that law schools can use as one of several factors in assessing applicants. 

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT):  Almost all U.S. medical schools require applicants to submit MCAT scores.  Medical college admission committees consider MCAT scores as part of their admission decision process.  The MCAT measures abilities in chemistry, physics, biology, reading and quantitative and analytical skills.  There is one test in the Fall and one in the Spring.  Applicants are encouraged to take the MCAT 18 months before entering medical school.

Dental Admission Test (DAT): Required by all dental schools in the U.S. You may download a copy of the DAT guide and register to take the exam at this site. The Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) lets you apply to 56 participating dental schools with one online application.

Miller Analogies Test (MAT):  The MAT uses verbal analogies to test reasoning ability.  Some graduate schools will accept the MAT in lieu of the GRE.  The MAT is administered at UMM by Jo-Ellen Scribner.  If you wish to make arrangements to take the MAT, you may contact Mrs. Scribner at

Financial Aid

Financial Aid comes in many forms.  Some examples are:

  • Fellowships and Grants:  Awards based on scholastic merit.
  • Assistantships:  A stipend or tuition assistance given in exchange for 10-20 hours of work.
  • Resident Assistantships:  Working in resident halls for benefits.
  • Educational Loans:  Based on financial need, loans are available such as Perkins and Stafford.
  • Employer Assistance:  Some employers offer full or partial tuition reimbursement for employees who continue their education.
  • Scholarships:  Awards based on scholastic merit and/or financial need.  Fast Web and offer the largest and most complete sources of scholarships available.


The American Muesum of Natural History has a new Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program with a focus on teaching earth science. Full-time, paid program beginning in June 2012.

American Psychological Association: Scholarships, Grants and Awards.

NBCC Foundation Program: Rural and Military Scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in professional counseling.

The NORTHEAST AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT SOCIETY is offering scholarships to students who are, or may be interested in, pursuing a degree in Aquatic Plant Management.

The National Science Foundation awards fellowships to outstanding students in various NSF-supported fields.

Institute for Broading Participation (IBP) ~ Pathways to Science ~ Examples of Funding Sources for Undergraduate and Graduate Studies.

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fellowships

NASA related interships, fellowships and scholarships.

Help is available but you need to research and apply early!

Graduate School Timeline

Ideally you should begin the process one year in advance--Junior Year!

It is a good idea to have your applications in by November or December of your senior year, but pay attention to deadlines because they are different for every University.

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