With an increasingly competitive job market, more students are considering post-baccalaureate education as a means to achieve their goals of higher education and higher-paid positions. Graduate study options are available for students with a wide variety of majors and intended careers. Caution, as the decision to go to graduate school shouldn't be taken lightly. Graduate programs require a lot of work and if you enter immediately after receiving your undergraduate degree, student burnout is a common issue. Many employers look for real-world experience just as much as a graduate degree, so you may want to consider employment. To decide whether graduate school is right for you, you should first research employment in your prospective field and see what employers want and don’t want.
Post-baccalaureate education comes in many forms, from one-year certificate programs to doctoral degrees, which require many years of work and dedication. There are different time commitments and workloads for graduate and professional programs, as well as a variety of goals. Also consider whether you’re seeking an academic or professional degree program, if you are pursuing a terminal degree- a degree that is at the end of its discipline. For example, many art programs stop at a Master of Fine Arts degree, or MFA. Some careers may require a terminal degree, while others might want you to hold off on receiving one until you’re ready to apply for top-level positions.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between academic and professional, which are directly relevant to your career choices. An academic degree generally prepares you for further study in the field, often moving towards a teaching or research profession. The emphasis is on subject matter, especially theory and research. A professional degree, by contrast, prepares you to work in a particular field. Often, a professional degree is required for a particular occupation or job title. Examples of professional degrees include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), law degrees and medical degrees.
Graduate education options are expanding, as new programs are added and more institutions now offer post-baccalaureate degrees. While this is very much helpful, it broadens your education options, which can be overwhelming. Everyone has different factors to consider, but here are some general things to keep in mind while searching through lists of graduate and professional programs and deciding which is right for you:
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