Getting Started

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We suggest that students first review resources from the MU Graduate School to help find a degree program and school that’s right for you.  With more than 150 graduate degree programs and certificates and a reputation for world-class  research, you should seriously consider pursuing your graduate degree at Mizzou.

Questions to Consider

  • Is a graduate degree needed for your professional and occupational goals, and are you passionate about the field?
    Talk to professors, advisors, and professionals in your field about career opportunities. Will you need a graduate degree to reach your goals?
  • Have you decided on a specific career path?
    If not, then graduate school may not be the best option for you at this time. Graduate programs are typically very specialized and will not give you an opportunity to explore a variety of options.
  • How will your personal values and goals fit into graduate school life?
    Depending on the degree you are working towards, be prepared to spend two to seven years working towards your goal.
  • Assess yourself!
    Graduate program culture, advising, supervision, and requirements can widely differ from school to school. How is your stress management? Can you work well in a situation with little structure? Are you self-motivated?

Exploring fields of study

Choosing a field of study in graduate school is critical, as it will significantly shape your professional life and career path.

  • Review coursework
    If you are considering a few different disciplines, take some time to look over class offerings to decide if any one program seems better tailored to your interests. Keep in mind that many students pursue a graduate degree in a field unrelated to their undergraduate major. Also review any prerequisite coursework necessary to be accepted into the program and add them to your undergraduate education.
  • Talk to faculty in your field of interest
    Ask professors for their recommendations of top graduate schools. Ideally, speak with professors in your intended field of study to get a better understanding of your options. Professors can often make personal referrals to colleagues at other universities.
  • Utilize career resources
    The Career Center online resource library has directories of graduate schools as well as information on how to submit applications. You also have the option of speaking with a Career Specialist or MU Graduate School staffer to discuss your ideas and plans,
  • Explore Professional Associations
    Many professional associations publish career information and explain graduate study options on their websites. Access hundreds of international and U.S. professional associations at CareerOneStop searchable database.

Types of graduate degrees

  • Specialist degrees
    A Specialist degree is usually earned in addition to a master’s degree and will require additional coursework, training, or internship experience. This type of degree usually prepares students for professional certification or licensing requirements (e.g., Ed.S. for school principal or credential for becoming a teacher).
  • Master’s degrees (e.g., MA, MS)
    A Master’s degree is offered in many fields and tends to be more career-oriented and allows for specialization within a field. Some are designed to lead to a doctoral degree while others are the “terminal” degree for a profession (e.g., Master of Library Science and Master of Business Administration). For full-time students, completing a master’s degree usually takes 2 years
  • Professional degrees (e.g., MBA, DVM, JD, MEd)
    A professional degree is an academic degree that prepares the individual for a particular profession by emphasizing practical skills. These professions are typically licensed or regulated by an approved body. Areas such as architecture, law, medicine, dentistry, accounting, pharmacy, or social work, among others, often require such degrees for licensing. Most professional degrees are expensive and require student loans since financial aid is not widely available.
  • Doctoral degrees (e.g., PhD, EdD)
    Doctoral degrees are the highest degrees possible and are more research intensive.  They usually require the creation of new knowledge via independent research. Including the time it takes to write and defend a dissertation, this degree may take anywhere from 5-7 years to complete.