Explore Graduate School

When to Attend Graduate School

Making a decision about whether to attend and when can be tricky and it is entirely individual. Is it right for you? Should you go now or take some time off? Take time to consider your options and your goals. Research both your future career as well as potential programs before you jump into a commitment to pursue a graduate degree.

  • Does graduate school seem like a great solution because you don’t know what to do after graduation?
  • Does the career your are interested in require a higher degree?
  • Do you have the energy and stamina? Or do you need some time off?
  • Are you ready to engage in more formal education?
  • Is it advantageous to get hands on experience prior to attending graduate school?
  • Do you have a solid idea of the career path you are headed?

Selecting a Graduate School

Utilize rankings (e.g. US News or World Reports), but with a critical eye. Consider research options and what experience you’ll need. Find out whether you should (or want to) enter a full PhD program versus a Masters. Contact potential graduate departments and Career Services to learn of post-doc opportunities!

Create a check list of “deal breakers”

Start with a list of those things that are most important to you, that you don’t want to compromise (such as location of the school), in relation to graduate school. As you begin researching keeping your “deal-breakers” in mind will help you to sift through all the information and narrow in on your options.

Some criteria to consider:

  • Where do you want to be living geographically?
  • If you are very open geographically, allow yourself to select a region at least for the sake of the search process. You can’t search “everywhere”
  • Do you want to be in or near a city?
  • What is the maximum cost you are willing to invest?
  • How long do you want to go to school?
  • Do you want to work and go to school or attend full time?
  • What is your GPA & standardized test score(s)?
  • Do you want a program that will focus on research or practical application?
  • Do you want to attend a highly ranked school?
  • Do they have faculty who are focused on your interest areas?

3 Ways to Stand Apart from the Crowd

  1. Write to faculty at schools of interest
  2. Visit the department of interest
  3. Submit an outstanding work sample

Start Early! In an ideal world students should start the process a full year and a half prior to the anticipated start date of professional school.

Application deadlines vary, from August before your senior year for early decision programs of medical schools using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to later Spring/Summer (after your senior year) for a few programs with rolling admissions. Law schools tend to have February deadlines so taking the LSAT in the fall can prove fruitful. Most deadlines for the fall’s entering class are between January and March. Many schools with rolling admissions encourage and act upon early applications.


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TCNJ’s Georgian Colonial campus occupies 289 landscaped acres in suburban Ewing, New Jersey.

Nearby Cities: Philadelphia; New York City

Mass Transit Options: Rail access options to Newark Liberty Airport, New York City, and Philadelphia.

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