Many Terps consider graduate studies, but do you know if further education is right for YOU? There are good and not so good reasons to attend graduate school. You may also debate the positives and negatives of going straight to graduate school versus working for a few years first to earn money and gain experience.

Reasons to attend graduate school include:

  • You want to be a doctor, lawyer, professor or work in another profession that requires a post-secondary education
  • You have a passion for and interest in a particular subject and wish to gain additional expertise on the topic
  • You have appropriate time and financial resources to devote to further education

Reasons not to attend graduate school include:

  • You hope to postpone the “real world” for another two or more years
  • You wish to stay in school longer to avoid a poor job market
  • You lack defined career goals

You may also struggle with the decision to go straight to graduate school or work first. There are positives and negatives to both decisions. Working first can be a good way to gain real-world work experience and confirm your career goals while saving money. Some graduate programs prefer or require prior work experience. On the other hand, going straight to graduate school may be a better idea if you know your dream career requires further study or you are concerned you won’t be able to return to school in a few years for financial or motivation-related reasons.

Set aside time to reflect on your goals and reasons for pursuing graduate study. You may want to talk through your reasons with a faculty member, career advisor, academic advisor or other trusted resource. 

Before applying, do your homework:

  • Review program options at Peterson's 
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your options, review each program’s website
  • Contact the directors of your programs of interest
  • Speak with a current student in the program
  • Contact and visit potential programs with specific questions
  • Attend graduate school open houses and fairs
  • Speak with faculty, alumni, current grad students, friends and family who are in your targeted profession
  • Seek guidance from UMD’s Pre-Law Advising Office or the Reed-Yorke Health Professions Advising Office, if appropriate

Things to consider when researching your options:

  • Type of program/ degree (PhD, Master’s, professional degree, and more!)
  • Academic prerequisites
  • Size and reputation
  • Location and networking opportunities
  • Job placement rate
  • Curriculum, course load, and concentrations
  • Faculty and staff support
  • Cost and available funding (your own and from the programs)
  • Timing- Is this the right time in your life for graduate school? For my field, is it better to gain work experience first?
  • Full-time vs part-time enrollment
  • Admissions requirements and your eligibility

Take some time finding a program that is a good fit for your long-term career goals. Invest in your future before diving in! Good Luck! 


of 2017 UMD graduates who are continuing their education are pursuing a master's degree