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Applying to Graduate School 101

University at Albany downtown campus

As senior year begins to come to an end, the questions that often come up are: Am I going to attend graduate school? Or will I begin my career? These are common things that many college students often ask themselves. If you’re one who finds themselves leaning toward graduate studies, the question of “am I going to attend” grows much bigger. While this large question can become very difficult to answer, it becomes a little easier if you break it down into four smaller, separate questions: Where (would I go to graduate school), When (would I attend), Why (am I applying), and How (do I get accepted)? Graduate school is an opportunity to continue your studies toward an advanced degree with possibilities for advanced research and discovery. Answering these questions will help you to come to the conclusion of how to prepare yourself for a new journey in your collegiate career!


Are you set in your current local area? If offered, in what location would you wish to complete your graduate studies? Different graduate programs vary in the amount of qualifications needed to be accepted, which allow you to filter which programs to consider. Based on the field work in which you are interested in pursuing, look for the school with your desired program in an area that has connections to your field. This can have an impact on your job and internship opportunities, so make sure you don’t forget to think about this. Also do you want to commute or reside inside or near campus?


Are you trying to decide what would be the best time to actually go and pursue a graduate degree? Well generally there are two routes that you could embark on:

1. Immediately after undergraduate:

  • Your preferred occupation requires an advanced degree
  • You’re accustomed to being a student for years!

2. After spending some years working:

  • Accumulate more knowledge in your career and peruse a graduate degree in the field work you become most interested in after gaining work experience
  • Some graduate programs require work experience

Regardless of when, be familiar with the deadlines for submitting your applications. You don’t want to miss out on your desired start date.


For some, a graduate degree may be required for their desired professional field but for those who do not fall under the same category, there other great reasons  to pursue a graduate education. A graduate degree helps advance your ability to succeed in the career you are considering. It’s also great opportunity to gain more knowledge and skills to become a better job candidate. Furthermore, some careers offer a higher salary for those with the credibility of attaining a Master degree.


If you’ve made it to this question then you’re one step closer to actually going on to complete your graduate studies! By now you should have looked into exactly which schools your are intending on applying to. Next check if you need to take the GRE, which is the Graduate Requirement Examination in which some Master programs require you to take. Begin writing your personal statement, which is one of the most important components of your application. It’s your chance to introduce yourself to the school and let them know exactly why you wish study your chosen major. Also work on getting strong letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors at your school or job.


SUNY even has a graduate search tool on its website that helps you search for graduate program offerings available across the system, whether combined or standalone degree programs. Good luck!



James Sanchez

Written by James Sanchez

James is a University at Albany graduate student assistant with the Office of New Media at SUNY System Administration.

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  • Prakhar Todaria says:

    I feel its better to gain some work experience before applying to Graduate school. Its gives you a hands on experience of what you have learnt in your under grad stint. Also, another benefit of working is that it gives you a insight of what’s going on in the market, what’s your value and what exactly your interest is in terms of what you actually like to read and what you like to work on. Experience of dealing with the people who are more experienced than you will come along with the package.

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