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/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 done as an undergrad, and typically involves a combination of course work and independent study. If you’re ready for that challenge, then graduate/professional school might be a good future step for you.

In LALS, students have the option to write a thesis as their senior exit requirement. Does that idea interest you or scare you? If it scares you, you might be better off in a two- or three-year masters program, or taking a year or two off while you think about your next steps. Getting a job is a great way to help narrow your interests post-undergrad. If writing a thesis sounds interesting, make sure you are prepared to dive 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 useful 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.

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.

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.

These are two programs that came to our attention and we investigated. Now this will be your job! Let your eyes and ears perk up when you hear mention of graduate school programs and opportunities, and then follow that lead.

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 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 15-30 minutes for a longer discussion.

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

The Career Center Does Grad School, Too!

Your very own UCSC Career Center 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.