NAU Graduate College Explore the graduate programs at NAU
Continuing your education through a graduate or professional program is an option to consider as you work your way through your current degree. While many students seek professional employment upon graduation, some NAU students plan to immediately continue their education on a full-time basis after graduation. Many others will continue their education on a part-time basis and even more will continue their education at some point after they have started their professional careers. Below are some things to take into consideration when exploring the possibility of graduate school.
Making the decision Tab Open
Preparing for graduate school Tab Closed
The application process Tab Closed
NAU graduate school Tab Closed
Making the decision Accordion Open
Many students, at some point in their undergraduate (or even graduate) career, will ask themselves “Should I continue my education after graduation?” There are some key things that you should consider in order to help you reach the best personal conclusion.
Do I know why I want to continue my education?
Graduate and certificate programs are almost always very focused on a specific subject area. The students who get the most out of these programs are the ones who are passionate about their field of study and have specific plans about how they intend to utilize their degree upon graduation. Choosing to continue your education without a vision for how it will help you in your future can lead to participating in an unfulfilling experience.
Do my professional goals require more education?
Some careers, such as law, medicine, social work, teaching, and accountancy require state or national certification that can only be achieved at the highest levels through further education. If you desire to work in one of these types of fields it is imperative that you further your education at some point. You may be able to work your way up in other careers through a combination of your undergraduate degree and hard work without furthering your education.
Is the time right?
Continuing your education right after graduation is a tempting proposition. After all, you are a good student, you enjoy taking classes and applying for graduate programs may seem less stressful than applying for jobs. While starting a graduate program right after graduation is certainly right for some students, others find that gaining professional experience, not to mention earning a salary, helps them tremendously when they decide to start graduate school at some point in the future. Some graduate programs, such as business administration, actually require that students have a number of years of professional experience prior to starting graduate studies. This way, students can apply their newly acquired professional knowledge in the classroom.
Why pursue graduate school?
In many career sectors, a master’s degree is replacing a bachelor’s as the minimum requirement for employment. While holding a graduate degree is not guarantee of success, it opens many more doors for employment.
Earning a graduate degree is evidence of persistence, determination, intellectual prowess, and the ability to handle challenging environments- sought-after qualities for individuals filling manager and director positions. An employee who has demonstrated success in a long-term situation that requires stamina, discipline, leadership, and the ability to work well with others is going to be in line for growth opportunities within his or her organization.
According to the US Census Bureau, workers between the ages of 21 and 64 with a master’s degree or higher earn nearly 30 percent higher annual salaries than workers who don’t.
Recognition and credibility
An advanced degree makes a difference on a resume. It says something about who you are and the dedication you have to your chosen field.
Preparing for graduate school Accordion Closed
Think back to when you first applied to be a college student. What factors did you consider in choosing a school? Now that you are applying for graduate school, it is important to consider some of these same factors…and some new ones as well.
Find the right specialty
As a graduate student, you will likely have more of an opportunity than you did as an undergraduate student to research academic areas that are appealing to you. For example, while universities across the country have graduate programs in psychology, the area(s) of focus for many of these programs may be quite different. As a potential student, be sure to review the specialties and focus areas for the various schools you are considering.
Look beyond the obvious
You can learn a lot about a program from its website, but that shouldn’t be your only source. The institution is important but the details beneath the surface are bigger. In order to gain an understanding of the program that’s right for you, you should strive to identify the people you could have the opportunity to learn from while sifting through the fine details. Utilize your network and find the superstars or experts in your field. Who do you look up to? The people you’re surrounded by have a strong impact on your experience. It’s not about where you learn but who you could learn from.
Review the numbers, part I
Admissions committees review many factors when considering graduate applications. Two of the objective factors that most schools heavily consider are undergraduate GPA and standardized test scores. You may want to review the average admissions GPA and test scores for various schools. A word of caution: keep in mind that numbers are an important factor, but only one of many factors that schools consider. Your personal statement, letters of recommendation and reasons for pursuing a degree are also important.
Review the numbers, part II
In addition to the school wanting you, you should also want the school because of their track record. Most large graduate specialties such as law, business and medicine report graduation statistics like average salary upon graduation, placement rate and average student debt upon graduation. Compare the programs you are considering against each other to see how they measure up.
Financial considerations are typically a large part of the decision when choosing to attend graduate school, and what program to select. GradSense can help you navigate some of the financial considerations of furthering your education, including calculating what your degree may be worth, providing tips for small savings that add up, and navigating loan repayment.
Resources for support
Here are some ways that advisors, faculty, and others can help:
- How to identify skills and resources to help you to have a strong GPA
- How to build professional relationships with faculty
- How to find faculty mentors and how to work closely with one
- How to develop and demonstrate excellent leadership and professional skills
- How to set up and engage in undergraduate research
- How to disseminate research through conferences and presentations
- How to publish research in academic journals
Graduate coordinators exist in many of the NAU departments and can assist students looking to continue their education
Take some time to research graduate and other continuing education programs. Complete the Graduate School Research Worksheet to help you identify the best programs for you! Remember to consider your (and your family’s, of applicable) personality, values, skills and strengths, interests, life experiences, and needs and wants, similar to if you were searching for a job. Members of the LGBTQIA community may want to utilize the following resource to view summaries of laws that affect LGBTQIA individuals and their families on a state-by-state and issue-by-issue basis.
The application process Accordion Closed
The process of applying to graduate school is time-consuming and one that you’ll likely find more challenging than when you applied for your undergraduate degree. Admissions committees spend a great deal of time reviewing applications in order to admit the best class possible. As a result, they will ask for a great deal of information from you.
Most schools require applicants to take a standardized admissions test. Your results on this test help admissions committees compare all applicants on an even playing field. It is important you spend time preparing for your test. Some students enroll in a prep course through a company that specializes in test preparation; these courses can be quite expensive but some students find them beneficial. Other students will prepare through independent study which can be accomplished by taking multiple practice exams. Keep in mind that the test you will be required to take will vary depending on your intended program.
Letters of recommendation
You will typically be asked to provide letters of recommendation as part of your application. Letters should come from those people who can speak positively about your ability to successfully complete graduate studies. Past professors are usually good candidates. Former supervisors could also be good as long as they can write about your abilities as they relate to some of the skills that are needed in graduate school. Be sure to give your references several weeks to write your letter and always provide them with a resume ahead of time to help them with the process.
Writing your personal statement, or statement of purpose, can be quite time-consuming. Schools are evaluating two primary factors in this statement. First, they want to understand your unique reasons for pursuing a graduate degree. Second, schools will use this statement to evaluate your writing ability. In terms of content, you may want to make sure that your statement informs the reader about what led you to this point and how you intend to use your education in the future.
Application due dates will vary depending on the program, the terms in which students are admitted and the anticipated number of applicants. The process of researching schools, preparing for your exam and writing your personal statement can take several months so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
Resources for support
Here are some ways that advisors, faculty, and others can help:
- Identify graduate schools that are the best match
- Create a graduate school timeline
- Understand how to best complete application forms
- Prepare documents such as a graduate school personal statement and resume
- Identify specific faculty members and how to approach them for letters of recommendation
- Find resources to prepare for a graduate school entrance exam
NAU graduate school Accordion Closed
Northern Arizona University offers many graduate programs in fields as diverse as biotechnology, health, business, environmental and sustainable systems, and teaching. Many of the NAU graduate degrees can be pursued through the Western Regional Graduate Program, allowing students from participating states to earn their degree at the cost of in-state tuition.
For additional information on graduate programs at NAU, including dates and deadlines, workshops, and new graduate student orientation, you can explore the NAU Graduate College website. Students can visit the Graduate College to meet with a department representative and learn more about programs of study. For students interested in pursuing a premed academic track, the Gateway Student Success Center offers workshops, advising, and resources on preparing competitive applications and scholarship submissions.