Explore Graduate and Professional School

Advising and Mentoring

Career Services Center

The Career Education and Advising team empowers students to develop and utilize their self-awareness, professional development skills, and proven resources to identify and pursue career employment and professional and graduate school advising, including pre-law and pre-health advising.  Other services include resume and application essay critique, interview preparation, job and internship listings, alumni advisor network, industry networking events and workshops, and job fairs.  Students can make advising appointments through Port Triton.

Academic Departments
Academic advisors and faculty may be able to provide students with some guidance if students are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in that department/field.

Academic Enrichment Program
These undergraduate enrichment programs are designed to help students prepare for education beyond a bachelor's degree.

Is an advance degree right for you?

Before applying to a graduate or professional program, you should consider the following questions.

  • Do you have a clear purpose and goal for attending graduate school?
    • What are my long- and short-term goals?
    • What is necessary for me to achieve these goals?
    • What are the benefits of not going to graduate school?
    • How will a graduate degree add or enhance my career path?
  • What are your values, interests, and priorities for your career and life?
    • What kind of work and experiences do I find meaningful?
    • What tools and skills do I already have? Do I need to enlarge or expand these tools and skills in order to have a meaningful life?
  • Have you researched the graduate school option in many different ways?
    • What are the different kinds of programs in my field and which will most benefit my goals?
    • What mentors do I have available? How do I feel about their perspectives and advice?
    • What are the time and money investments to take on a graduate or professional degree? How will those affect me? What about the opportunity costs- the costs of making one decision over another?
    • Do I see myself succeeding in a graduate or professional program?
    • What can I do without a graduate or professional degree? 
  • Are you using graduate school to postpone making a career decision?
  • Do you feel graduate school is the automatic ‘next step’?

A Guide to Academia: Getting into and Surviving Grad School, Postdocs, and a Research Job by Prosanta Chakrabarty is a handbook for anyone thinking about going to graduate school. 

Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities by Gregory Semenza

The Professor is In: The Essential Guide to Turning your Ph.D. Into a Job by Karen Kelsky

Explore programs

Steps to exploring programs 

  • Visit the Career Services Center to explore career goals and preparation for graduate and professional school
  • Research and develop a list of potential graduate program. Consider the following:
    • Curriculum and degree requirements
    • Faculty and staff advising and support
    • Research, teaching, and experiential opportunities
    • Funding opportunities and financial support
    • Geographic location and size
    • Programs, resources and facilities within the program but also at the university in general
  • Research appropriate resources (LSAC, AAMC, ADA, AACP, MBA.com, nursingworld.org, etc.)
  • Meet with professors and other professionals in the field(s) that interests you to learn more about the field and possible recommendations for programs

Tools for finding programs

  • Gradschools.com
  • Peterson’s
  • Masterstudies.com
  • U.S. News rankings
  • Associations for each specific academic field (i.e. American Chemical Society, American Anthropological Society, Modern Language Association, etc.)
  • Associations for each specific profession (i.e. National Association of Social Workers, National Education Association, American Nurses Association, etc.)
  • Associations for programs and schools (i.e. LSAC, AAMC, SOPHAS, PPIA Program, etc.)

International graduate programs

Depending on your interests, there may be graduate programs abroad that offer specializations not available in the US.  There may also be better funding opportunities. Use the resources below to search for programs and read about the funding opportunities through the specific programs.  In many countries, there are also government fellowships and funding available for international students. 

Research programs


Country/Region specific



Not sure how programs compare? Various organizations have created ranked lists and other tools to help differentiate between schools and programs in the same field.  These rankings may suggest schools and programs that you have not yet considered; however, using any ranking as the sole basis for selecting a graduate or professional program is unwise.

Many factors are important to consider in choosing a graduate or professional program, and many of those factors are specific to your personal situation. This wide range of factors cannot be taken into account by any one published ranking scheme. Learn the factors considered and the methodology used to create the ranking systems you review.  Seek advice from faculty members or professionals in your field to help you select programs that best meet your needs and goals.

Finding Rankings

Use the resources below to help you rate programs based on factors important to you.

PhD Programs: The National Research Council (NRC) Rankings assess PhD programs in multiple fields every ten years. The NRC’s methodology has earned the confidence of the academic community. The report is also available in Geisel Library. PhDs.org used the NRC data to create a Grad School Rankings tool that allows you to customize the rankings based on your personal priorities.

Graduate & Professional Programs: U.S. News and World Report publishes annual rankings based on data collected every one to three years. Their methodology, heavily dependent on reputation, has been criticized as an inherently flawed, easily manipulated approach.  Note: the ranking of a school may not apply equally to all departments within that school – e.g., Vermont Law School overall has a low US News ranking, but the Environmental Law program at VLS is one of the top in the nation. While U.S. News and World Report is predominantly used in the U.S., the Academic Ranking of World Universities (established by Shanghai Jiao Tong University) and Times Higher Education World University Rankings are commonly used internationally.

Get experience

Students interested in pursuing graduate and professional school should aim to obtain the core foundation requirements necessary for their intended degree program.  They do not necessarily need to have the same undergraduate major as the intended graduate program as long as they have the necessary pre-requisites if there are any.  Students should check the admissions website for the specific program to determine if there are any pre-requisites.

Ways to get experience


To promote diversity in education and the work force, professional and graduate schools actively seek qualified students from all communities. Read the information below to find resources (scholarships, experiential opportunities, information and guidance) especially for under-represented minority, first-generation college, and economically or educationally disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, women, LGBT students, and others.


Affinity Connections 
Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships

Field Specific

Health and Medicine
Aspiring Docs.org (AAMC) 
California Postbaccalaureate Consortium 
Dentistry (ADEA) 
Healthcare Pathways
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual Issues
National Association of Medical Minority Educators
AAMC Summer Enrichment Programs 

Summer Medical and Dental Education Program 
Summer Research Internships
UCSD Diversity and Community Partnerships

ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity

ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund
Council on Legal Education Opportunity
LGBT Applicants 
Racial/Ethnic Minority Applicants

Science and Engineering
Amgen Scholars Program 
Ecology Opportunities

Experimental Biology Minority Access To Research Careers
National Physical Science Consortium 
Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science 
Undergraduate Scholarship Program (NIH)

Social Sciences
APA Minority Fellowship 
International Affairs Graduate Fellowships
Political Science Minority Programs 

Application Process

Funding Grad School

For additional help with your professional & graduate school preparation and application, come into the Career Services Center or schedule an advising appointment with a Professional and Graduate School Advisor via Port Triton. Learn more about your Career Advisors and their specializations at the staff directory page.