Grad School Search

Peterson’s Grad School Search allows you to sort and search for graduate schools by programs, area of study, state, cost of tuition, and more.

Online Resources

Online resources for adult students exploring the option of going back to college.

The Value of College

This calculator illustrates what your graduate degree may be worth in the future.

Consider Graduate School

For adults with bachelor degrees, earning a graduate degree may be the right step for you. In the ever-changing job market, the thriving employees seem to be those with advanced degrees – Americans with a graduate degree earn an average of 35-50% more than those with a bachelor’s degree. This may be one reason that more students are applying to graduate schools than ever before

Attending graduate school is as difficult as a real job and can often be more demanding and time-consuming. Plus, having a graduate degree does not necessarily guarantee you the career or salary of your choice. For this reason, it important to understand that graduate school is one-part education, one-part work, and one-part networking. These three distinct categories will round out your life as a graduate student. So why did over a million US students enter graduate programs last year?

Career Change – Some people decide to make a career change after having been in the work force for some time. You may find that your interests have changed and that additional schooling is required in order to transition into your new chosen career field.

Career/Salary Advancement – The upper level positions in your current field may not be open to individuals with only a bachelor’s degree.

Teaching – You may want to teach a class. A master’s degree is required of community college instructors and increasingly required of high school teachers especially for subjects requiring highly qualified status. To become a professor at a four-year college or university, a doctorate is required.

Professional Licensing – Social workers, therapists, psychologists, and others who directly treat or counsel patients generally need a graduate education to meet state and national licensing requirements.

Life-Long Learning – If you love to learn and have the desire to enhance your knowledge in a particular area of study, that’s a wonderful reason to pursue graduate study!

The Job Market – A slow economy and resulting trouble finding a job is a major reason that many choose to pursue a graduate degree. Keep in mind that many careers rumored to have more opportunities in the near future may not experience any change, so be sure to do your research and speak with people who are currently employed in the field that interests you.


You will often hear that graduate school is more than just taking classes and writing papers. A master’s or doctorate degree is considered preparation for your future career, but you often need more than just the degree to land a job. Throughout your career as a graduate student, you will be surrounded by professors, alumni, professionals in your field, and university workers with whom you will create connections and relationships. Ultimately, this network will be a community of contacts that are willing and able to help you advance professionally. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reports that, “60-80 percent of jobs are obtained through networking,” so be sure to practice your networking skills while in graduate school.

There is a common misunderstanding that networking involves meeting as many new people as you can or collecting as many numbers and business cards as possible. Not only is this ineffective, but this completely undermines the point of networking. The best way to go about networking is to develop strong relationships. People are more likely to help those who they have good relationships with, especially those who have helped them out in the past. In the working world, a lot of your success comes from who you know.

So, how do you network? Follow these tips to build and grow your network while in graduate school.

Get involved and take chances to create relationships with classmates and professors inside and outside the classroom. Be on the lookout for university events that align with your interests, both professionally and personally. Consider joining an organization on campus with people who share similar interests and philosophies. The connections you make with your peers and advisors are equally as important as relationships with professionals in your field; you never know who will hear of a job or opportunity that would be a good fit for you! If you’re an online student and do not live near your university’s campus, consider looking into online communities. Does your university have platforms for online student engagement? Many online universities offer clubs and organizations you can join, while not being there in person.

Reach out to your professors. Professors are a tremendous resource because they not only provide industry-specific expertise, but they also have a network of professionals at their fingertips. Make an effort to get to know each professor, either during office hours or over coffee. If professors know you and your goals, they are more likely to keep you in mind if they hear of opportunities for internships and job openings that match your interests and strengths.

Set up informational interviews. Work with your university’s career services office and find alumni working in your field. Alumni want to help students attending their alma mater and by having an immediate shared background, the conversation is easier to begin. Informational interviews not only help you learn about the field which you will enter, but also let you build a relationship with the person you interview. Your interviewee will also have a wide range of contacts in their network and will likely be happy to make introductions to others in your desired field.

Use social media. In today's world of social networking, there are several networking tools at your fingertips. Sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter allow users to stay connected and share information with hundreds of people in an instant and are a great resource for anyone trying to build a networking community or connect with colleagues. LinkedIn is a popular networking tool and many career service professionals will suggest students create an account; like an online resume, LinkedIn allows members to search for people based on work experience and interests. Facebook and Twitter have a more social aspect to them, but they do allow people to connect based upon interests. Although Facebook and Twitter are used largely for personal purposes, consider searching for groups and pages that connect people around a cause, business, or brand. These groups and pages bring hundreds of people together and you never know who you will meet!

Be authentic. Instead of attempting to meet everyone possible, concentrate on a few individuals and show sincere interest in your conversations—be authentic! Remember, you should be focusing on developing relationships, not collecting business cards. By actively engaging in conversations, you will show the other party that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Whenever you have the ability to help a contact, offer your help and then make sure to follow through. When the time comes and you need assistance, contacts will be much more willing to offer their support and resources.

Stay in touch. Once you’ve started to build your network, try to stay current with those you’ve met. By staying in touch, you are keeping your name in their mind for any opportunities they might hear about or find. Ask for advice, resources, and mentorship and don’t feel afraid to ask for help!

For more tips and advice on networking, check out this recent article from the experts at Careerealism.

New Hampshire has several young professional associations. These associations provide professional and personal development opportunities for young workers. Recent grads are always welcome to attend special events and network with other like-minded young professionals. Learn more about the professional associations in your area by visiting Stay Work Play – a statewide, independent marketing effort promoting what New Hampshire offers the 20 and 30 year-old demographic.

Currently, Stay Work Play lists website links for 14 young professionals’ networks in New Hampshire:

Another opportunity for young professionals in New Hampshire is the Granite United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society (ELS). This group is specifically designed for up-and-coming leaders of the community, ages 40 and under, and it provides a variety of social networking, volunteer, and professional development opportunities.

In job interviews, you will likely hear some version of this question: “Congratulations on your graduate degree, that is an incredible achievement. What real-world experience do you have that supports your degree?” Internships and summer jobs in your field are the best way to apply what you have learned in the classroom to what you will do as a professional in the field. Graduate internships and summer work also allow you to network and build a relationship with a potential mentor.

Generally speaking, an internship is a short-term learning experience that will help you develop hands-on work experience in a certain occupational field. As a graduate student, internship experiences tend to be more involved than internships you may have experienced as an undergraduate. Know that the tasks you receive will align with the work of full-time employees and the lines between intern and employee can become blurry. To avoid this, be sure to be communicative with your mentors, supervisors, and advisors by asking for help, advice, and clarity; transparency is key.

Ready to look for internships that complement your graduate work? Tap in to your network of professors, advisors, and the career services office on your campus. We also recommend going to the websites of organizations for whom you would like to work; many organizations will have their internship opportunities listed under their “career” or “work with us” pages.

Another opportunity for the summer may be volunteering. A little less structured than an internship, volunteering is working for a particular cause without payment for your time and service. This might be helping out at your animal rescue shelter, preparing food at a food pantry or soup kitchen, or reading to the elderly at a nursing home. Volunteering illustrates your involvement in your community and also offers you a great way of seeing different careers and environments. Whether you are interested in computer programming, graphic design, counseling or animal services, you can find a volunteer opportunity available for you at volunteernh.org.

Another great benefit of both internships and volunteering is networking. The opportunity to meet with various people is a wonderful way to build your network of people who may assist you as you not only apply for college, but look for employment opportunities down the road. When looking for an internship or volunteer opportunity, it is important to use all of your resources. Ask school counselors, teachers, family members, coaches and friends if they know of anything available. Whatever your goal, maximize your summer vacation time and make it work for you!

AmeriCorps is a National Service program that provides citizens with the opportunity to make a big difference in your life and the lives of others by applying skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.

Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for citizens of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you’ll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!

AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America. As an AmeriCorps member, you can:

  • Tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth
  • Fight illiteracy
  • Improve health services
  • Build affordable housing
  • Teach computer skills
  • Clean parks and streams
  • Manage or operate after-school programs
  • Help communities respond to disasters
  • Build organizational capacity
  • Promote college readiness for low-income students

As an AmeriCorps member, you’ll gain new skills and experiences – and you’ll also find the tremendous satisfaction that comes from helping others. In addition, full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. The amount of a full-time education award is equivalent to the maximum value of the Pell Grant for the award year in which the term of national service is approved. After completing your service you can use this award to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Members who serve part-time receive a partial award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.

There are thousands of opportunities to serve in AmeriCorps. Each one provides an incredible opportunity to make a difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. To search for an AmeriCorps national service opportunity that fits your interests and desired location, click here. Applications for any position can also be submitted online – all you have to do is create a user profile.

Resources to learn more about AmeriCorps:

The idea of work-life balance can seem elusive and hard to achieve for many graduate students, which is probably why a google search with the keywords, “graduate school work-life balance,” brings 18 million articles and websites. To realize success as a graduate student, it is important to consider how you plan to manage your coursework with life responsibilities.

The life of a graduate and undergraduate student look very different, largely because graduate students have more responsibilities than traditional-aged undergraduate students. As an adult graduate student, you likely have family and work responsibilities which you must manage along with your coursework and internships or assistantships. It can be overwhelming to be pulled in several directions by work, friends, and family, which is why we suggest these tips to manage graduate school and outside responsibilities:

  1. Find or create networks of support. Be honest with your friends and family about what you need and how they can help as you embark on your graduate school journey. Also be sure to take advantage of university offices designed to offer support, such as Academic Advising, the Wellness Center, or your faculty mentor. Graduate school is designed to challenge you, but when things get crazy, remember to use the resources in your support network to stay focused.
  2. Plan ahead and make a flexible schedule. When managing several responsibilities, it is important to keep track of the tasks on your to-do list and the items on your calendar. Although we do not recommend planning out every hour of your day because it limits your flexibility, it is wise to plan ahead so you meet deadlines. Use a google or outlook calendar and/or a weekly planner to list important deadlines, meetings, and events for your week and reference it often. If you like to make to-do lists, we recommend using the free software Asana to manage and coordinate important tasks.
  3. Have fun. We talked about the importance of creating a schedule to help you manage your time, but don’t forget to leave time for fun! You will find it is harder to focus and remain motivated if all you do is study and work. Find an activity that brings you joy and do it— graduate students are humans, not robots!

Adaptability

Once upon a time, people finished education early because most of life’s learning came “on the job”. On the job training is still important, but today there is a need for more sophisticated academic learning just to get an opportunity to learn on the job. As technology becomes more advanced and as the interrelation of bodies of knowledge becomes more complex, individuals must be able to use their training in as many ways as possible. It is imperative to be adaptable.

Mobility

It has been said that the average person will have several careers during his/her adult life. However you define a career, whether as a series of related positions or an entirely new direction, you can expect a lot of change. There is no question that we have to be more mobile than ever before. Few of us live in the same town or same state that we grew up in. Even if we do live close to our roots, change takes place around us and we have to be prepared to move with it. Being able to take advantage of the best opportunity means being ready to move to a new setting with confidence and ambition. Graduate school is a vehicle to greater mobility.

Specialization

Specialization is power. In addition to possessing 21st century skills, the student with specialized knowledge or training will automatically be more valuable in the workplace. Specialization allows a student to build a niché that will be valued and utilized by others in the organization.

New Skills

Graduate school puts you in the position to gain more skills. No matter what your initial degree or training program, graduate school allows you to build skills that transcend those you acquired in a more basic setting. In building skills, you set yourself apart and will bring training and ability to the workplace that will be immediately valued at a higher level and will allow you to become productive sooner by applying new learning.

Motivation

Your investment of time and money in graduate school not only generates knowledge and money, it proves something about you. You have applied your time and talent, and have invested money and personal resources. In doing so, you display motivation and ambition that will be important characteristics as people decide whether or not to hire you. Your work in graduate school will display your willingness to challenge yourself, to develop and to take risks to earn success. Those are important qualities in any potential employee.

Graduate degree programs (meaning anything after a bachelor’s degree) offer advanced instruction in one subject area. While an undergraduate degree introduces you to a variety of subjects along with your major, a graduate degree focuses solely on one academic discipline.

Graduate programs are split into two distinct degrees: the master’s and the doctorate. A master’s degree, either in a professional or academic field, typically requires one to three years of study and demonstrates mastery of coursework in a specific subject area.

  • The professional master’s degree is the most common advanced degree for students looking to advance in their career and can be awarded in the following subject areas: the fine arts (Master Fine Arts), education (Master of Education), nursing (Master of Science in Nursing), business (Master of Business Administration), or public health (Master of Public Health). Many professional master’s programs follow the same format for instruction: you will first choose a concentration of study along with your coursework, participate in an internship or professional experience, complete a special project and capstone, and take a final assessment.
  • The academic master’s degree is a close relative to the professional master’s degree because it also demonstrates mastery in one subject area, but often with a research or theory focus. These programs are often awarded as a Master of Arts or a Master of Science and follow a similar format to professional master’s program, with the exception of a dissertation proposal and defense.

Doctoral programs can also be either professional or academic, but take more time to complete—roughly three to eight years. Before pursuing a doctorate, you must have earned a master’s degree, but many universities offer dual master and doctorate programs.

  • Professional doctorates focus on the practical knowledge and skills required for a specific job. Common professional doctorate programs are in psychology, medicine, business administration, and physical therapy. Professional doctorate programs typically require students to take advanced courses, complete a practicum, internship, and/or fellowship, and take comprehensive final exams. Some programs will also require a dissertation.
  • An academic (research) doctorate, or PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), is a degree awarded to students who create an original dissertation which contributes new knowledge to their subject area. Doctorates in academic fields follow a similar format to professional doctorates, but require a dissertation. Dissertations are the culmination of a PhD and typically requires three to five years of research, with the dissertation defense as the final exam.

So which program is best for you? To answer this question, it is best to do some research on your chosen career. If your dream job is to become a psychologist or a university professor, you will need to pursue a doctorate. If you want to pursue a career in library sciences or occupational therapy, you will need to earn a master’s degree. Look through job listings for your selected career path and read the education requirements. What does this job require? Will you need a master’s or a PhD? Also consider reaching out to individual departments and setting up an informational phone call to learn about their program.

  1. Get specific information from each graduate school to which you are applying. Inquire about the various campus services, like the library and career services offices, you will need to access.
  2. Most applications can be completed electronically. Get electronic confirmations of anything you submit. Keep hard and electronic copies as backup of the work you do.
  3. Put together an admission timeline so that you know exactly when each item is due at each school to which you are applying.
  4. Some schools require two copies of all forms—one for the admissions office and one for the department.
  5. Keep track of which, if any, of your graduate schools have supplementary materials that must be completed beyond the Personal Statement and application.
  6. Be sure to check the specific testing requirements of the departments you are applying to—never assume anything. Each department may have their own prerequisites.
  7. Your Personal Statement should be between one and two pages in length. Some are required to be between 500 and 1000 words. Be careful of length—writing too much will not impress the admission committee.
  8. Get three recommendations from colleagues, past professors or mentors who can speak to your likelihood for success in the program. Also, find out if recommendations must be sent directly from those who write them.
  9. Many graduate schools will require two copies of your official transcript. They should be official copies (sealed and/or sent directly from your undergraduate institution) to ensure content has not been altered.
  10. Most application fees can be submitted online with a credit card, or you can send a check through the mail. Be sure that you have your financial arrangements in place and that you account for any additional time for processing.

Graduate school standardized tests are designed to test general knowledge, reasoning skills, and ability to communicate. Some exams will often also ask for specialized knowledge pertaining to a field. An exam’s score can be a crucial component in the evaluation of an application. Testing is not the be-all and end-all of admission, but it can be a more important consideration at the graduate level than it was for undergraduate admissions.

GRE Graduate Record Examination
ets.org/gre
866.473.4373

  • Time: around 3 hours, 45 minutes plus short breaks
  • Structure: Three sections – Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing
  • Scoring: Verbal and Quantitative are each scored on a 130-170 scale in 1 point increments. The Analytical section is graded 0-6 in 1/2 point increments.
  • Testing: Registration can be done online, by phone, email or fax. Test is computer based with testing sites available across the country.

GMAT Graduate Management Admission Test
mba.com
800.717.4628

  • Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Structure: Four sections – Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning
  • Scoring: Each section is scored on an individual basis; the total score is then put into a 200-800 range.
  • Testing: You can register online and take the test online at test centers across the country.

LSAT Law School Admission Test
lsac.org
215.968.1001

  • Time: Half-Day
  • Structure: Five 35 minute multiple choice sections – Reading Comprehension, Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning, and a Variable Section. There is also a 35- minute unscored Writing Sample.
  • Scoring: Is based on the number of questions answered correctly (the raw score). There is no deduction for incorrect answers, nor are individual questions on the various test sections weighted differently. Raw scores are converted to an LSAT scale that ranges from 120 to 180, with 120 being the lowest possible score and 180 the highest possible score. This is done through a statistical procedure known as equating, a method that adjusts for minor differences in difficulty between test forms.
  • Testing: Though you may register online, the LSAT is not given online. You must sit for this exam at a test center. Plan to take the exam by December of the year prior to the fall you wish to enter Law School.

MCAT Medical College Admission Test
aamc.org
202.828.0690

  • Time: 7 hours 30 min.
  • Structure: Four sections-
    • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems,
    • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems,
    • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior,
    • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Scoring: You get a separate score for each section of the exam. The section is scored from a low 118 to a high 132. Your total score is the sum of the four individual section scores and will range from 472 to 528.
  • Testing: You may register for the MCAT online. The MCAT is administered online, and you must sit for this exam at a test center. Plan to take the exam in the year in which you apply for medical school. When you arrive at the test center, you will be checked in by a Test Center Administrator. You will be asked to sign a sign-in sheet, present a valid ID document, have your fingerprints digitally collected, and have a test-day photograph taken.

What is the Personal Statement?

The Personal Statement is the graduate school version of an undergraduate college admission essay. Almost all graduate applications have a required Statement in some form. While your grades and test scores are very important, the Statement provides the admission committee a chance to personally distinguish you from other applicants and the opportunity to see you as a person instead of as a number and a statistic. All things being equal, your Statement may be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted or denied admission as it reveals a great deal about your ability to write and communicate a unique perspective in an engaging way. And, it is one aspect you still have influence over at this stage in the process. The personal statement varies by institution. It can either be general – giving you freedom in terms of what you write – or it can ask specific questions. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions, while medical or law school applications often ask you to address your motivation or qualifications in more general terms.

Content. The majority of schools will ask you to explain why you want to study in the program, how you became interested, and how your previous academic work has prepared you for your graduate studies.

Writing. As you write your Statement, remember that how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. When we read a book, we can hear the author’s “voice.” The same should be true in your statement. The reader expects a polished piece of writing in your unique voice. Write a preliminary outline, make a first draft, redraft, edit your drafts, and have someone else review your writing. Continue to revise until you have a version you are proud to submit.

Attitude. Attitude is revealed through the combination of content, writing, and style. The Statement ultimately shows your passion for your studies, confidence in your ability to succeed, and pride in your accomplishments. Your style will help demonstrate that you will be a valuable and productive student in a particular program.

How Do I Write a Personal Statement?

How you structure and organize your essay can determine your fate. With a well-structured essay, the reader will not only be interested in the content of your essay, but will also know you have the capacity to create a legible essay – and thereby think clearly and logically. There are several different ways you can structure your essay but the most common format includes an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Write about who you are, why you want to continue your studies, what experiences support your application, and your previous academic record. Make sure you answer the required question(s). Your paragraphs need to have transitions and resolutions. Transitions start a paragraph by providing a statement that suggests the theme for that paragraph. This allows the reader to be aware of the direction the essay is heading in. Transitions connect paragraphs to other paragraphs (usually preceding paragraphs), which causes the essay to flow smoothly. Resolutions, on the other hand, are statements that end paragraphs and allow for transition to the next paragraph. The resolution should not be a general statement but rather a meaningful one that connects facts included in the current paragraph. Both transitions and resolutions are beneficial in terms of making your essay clear and understandable.

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