Differences between Grad School and Undergraduate:

  • Many more seminar type courses, especially at an advanced level
  • More papers, projects, presentations, fewer tests
  • More research oriented approaches
  • Increased specialization of subject matter studies
  • More independent work requiring self-discipline
  • Less short-term feedback abut how you are doing academically
  • Increased pressure to maintain high grades; generally B or above is the expected minimum

Master's Degree (M.A. or M.S.)

Four typical types of programs:

  • Coursework and thesis - A thesis is an independent research project which the student designs, carries out, writes and defends before a committee of graduate professors.
  • Coursework and exams - Some programs give the student the option of not writing a thesis, but taking comprehensive exams instead.
  • Coursework and internship - An internship is a supervised, experiential learning situation, usually on a part-time, voluntary basis. The student may spend one or two semesters working in a setting compatible with his/her area of study to develop knowledge and skills in that area.
  • Combination of the above

Doctoral Degree (PhD)/Other Professional Degrees

Usual requirements include:

  • Preliminary coursework
  • Some programs require a master's thesis
  • A comprehensive examination covering required coursework which may be written and/or oral
  • Dissertation which is an original, independent research project. The student usually presents the project to a faculty committee for approval and defends the completed project before the same committee. Differs from a thesis in that it must be original, is usually more complex and in-depth, and must be judged to be a significant contribution to knowledge in the student's field.
  • Requirements for applied programs such as counseling, clinical psychology, nursing or social work may involve some practical experience.

Some professions may require some licensing procedure, i.e. a bar exam or state license exam.