When should I go to graduate school?
You should go to graduate school whenever it feels right to you. Some students finish their bachelor's degree and go straight into a master's degree program, while many others don't decide to go back to school until much later. Some work for a few years to get a feel for the field, while others work for many years, only to decide to switch careers or gain a new perspective on the industry. Only you can decide when the right time might be.
I am so busy with my job and my family. How could I even consider going to graduate school?
You may want to consider getting a graduate degree through an online program. Online degrees offer students a lot of flexibility and convenience and allow students to complete a degree program from home within their own schedule. Most online programs require students to check in online weekly, and the rest of the time, it's up to them to determine their own schedule for downloading lessons and completing assignments. Students with full-time jobs and other commitments find that online programs fit seamlessly into their lives.
Is it better to go straight to grad school after getting a bachelor's degree, or should I work for a few years first?
That all depends. Many careers require students to have a graduate-level education before they are able to work, such as lawyers, doctors, or architects. In those cases, students don't really have much choice. But most fields have work opportunities for students with bachelor's degrees, allowing students to work for a while, find a niche in the field, and then go back for more education if they so desire. Some programs, such as MBAs, prefer students with work experience, and set requirements, such as 3 or 5 years, for admission. As long as your particular field doesn't have a requirement for school, it really is up to you to determine which is right for you.
Will I have to take a test to get into grad school?
Most graduate schools require some sort of admissions test, such as the GRE for general admission, GMAT for business admission, LSAT for admission to law school, and MCAT for admission to medical school. For more information on the different types of admission tests required for graduate school education, please read "Graduate School Testing".
What kind of financial aid is available to grad students?
Graduate students can apply for a variety of financial aid programs, including loans, fellowships, and scholarships. Federal student aid programs include PLUS loans for students and Stafford loans, while institutional programs include teaching assistantships and fellowships. Working graduate students also may have a tuition reimbursement benefit at work. For more information on financial aid for graduate students, please visit FinAid.org, or search for scholarships at FastWeb.
Can I go part-time?
Many graduate programs are offered part-time. Some are exclusively designed as part-time programs to accommodate working students. Students interested in part-time study might be interested in online programs as well. Online programs can be part-time or full-time and progress at the student's own pace. Many online programs are also accelerated.
How long will it take me to get a graduate degree?
There is really no definitive answer. A full-time MBA program lasts about two years, while law school generally takes three years. Full-time graduate study is typically nine credits per semester, or three classes. The length of the program depends on the number of required credits. Many schools offer accelerated programs so that students finish faster than average, while part-time students can stretch a program across several years.