Graduate School Preparation

grad-quote.jpgAre you thinking about applying to graduate (M.A., Ph.D.) or professional (M.D., J.D.) school? This page is not an exhaustive resource, but it should get you started on your journey.


Is Graduate or Professional School Right for You?

There are important differences between undergrad and graduate study: grad school is much more focused and intense than undergrad, for instance. Graduate school requires a significant investment of time and energy, beyond what you have experienced as an undergrad, and typically involves a combination of course work and independent study. If you’re ready for that commitment, then graduate or professional school might be a good choice for you.

Now, what kind of degree are you pursuing? Using the tools on the Getting a job site is a great way to help narrow your interests post-undergrad. If you are leaning toward a PhD, now is the time to get into undergraduate research to support your work and to prepare for graduate school.


Grad School Commitment Begins with Application Process

Luckily, the complex process of applying to graduate school is a great indicator of your dedication to the idea! David Shorter wrote a helpful article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "The Gentle Guide for Applying to Grad Schools." It's a great jumping-off point if you are just starting out.

Also check out our LALS Grad School Workshop Series--five 20-minute presentations on aspects of considering and applying to graduate school, led by LALS PhD Emilia Valenzuela Vergara, and tailored to LALS and first-gen students.


Look for Support from Existing Programs

There are free programs to help walk you through the application process from start to finish, such as the IRT (Institute for Recruitment of Teachers), a program that seeks to place students of color in graduate programs for leadership positions in education. Keep in mind they are looking for students applying in the Humanities and Social Sciences only.

UC Davis has this great resource on applying to graduate school.

Are you more interested in professional schools? UC Hastings (the law school attached to UC San Francisco) offers LEOP (Legal Education Opportunity Program), which we discovered by chance when we noticed a profile of LEOP's current director in the UC newsletter. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities that work for you!


Talk to Current and Former Graduate Students and Start Thinking about Letters of Recommendation

You know who went to graduate school and loved it? Your professors! Go see your instructors in office hours and get their personal recommendations and suggestions.

You know who has a really good sense of what graduate schools and programs look like right now? Your TAs! They are all graduate students. Take advantage of TA office hours to ask them about their experiences.

Please keep in mind that when drop-in office hours are busy and students are waiting, you may not get to have a long conversation about this. Ask your instructor or TA if you can make an appointment for 30 minutes for a longer discussion.

For more information on getting letters of recommendation, check out this resource from UCSC Career Success.


Career Success is a Grad School Resource

Your very own UCSC Career Success offers graduate and professional school resources and coaching. From making the decision to apply, to the application process, to how to pay for it once you're in: take a look at what they have to offer.