Graduate School

Looking to take the next step into Graduate School? We'll help.


Graduate study differs from undergraduate study in that it involves becoming more specialized and focused in a particular area of interest. Graduate programs usually require not only taking additional courses, but also active participation in research study and/or practica, internships, externships and clinical experiences. Graduate study allows a student to develop specialized skills to practice in certain professions or conduct research.

Types of graduate degrees:

  • Master’s degrees typically involves two or three years of study and in a specific field or professional practice .
  • Research Doctoral Degrees usually takes four to six years of full-time study plus several years to complete an in-depth dissertation. The research doctoral degree, PhD, involves training in research and prepares individuals primarily for careers in academia or research centers.

St Catherine University offers both Master’s and Doctoral Programs.

Whether or not to attend graduate school is a decision that deserves careful consideration. Some students pursue graduate studies simply because they lack another career focus. However, the high cost of the degree, intense workload, and low rate of completion can make graduate school a costly decision. Know the cost of the degree and calculate the return on investment. Research fellowship opportunities. Additionally, approximately 50% of doctoral students drop out before completing their degree.

As you contemplate whether or not graduate school is right for you, consider your answers to the following questions:

  • Am I considering graduate school only because I don’t know what else to do right now as a way to postpone job hunting?
  • What do I see myself doing ten years from now? Is graduate school going to help me get there?
  • Have I talked with enough individuals who have accomplished what I think I want to do? (Informational interviews, faculty advisors, etc)
  • Do I have a realistic idea of the kinds of work and employment opportunities that this degree will make available to me? What is the completion rate of graduate students in this field?
  • Will salaries for careers with this degree be able to finance the investment?

How to select a program that is right for you

Begin your research by consulting with people:

  • Talk with your advisors, mentors and alumnae at St Kate’s, and with other professionals in the field Ask where they did their graduate work and get recommendations about specific programs
  • Consult with students currently studying in the graduate programs you are considering
  • Attend the annual ACTC Graduate & Professional School Fair offered each fall

Continue your research by consulting reference materials. Peterson’s Graduate and Professional Programs provide a comprehensive listing including degrees offered, certifications, enrollment figures, admission and degree requirements, tuition, financial aid, housing, faculty and more Access current Peterson's guides in the Career Resource Library.

Factors to Consider as you create your list of potential schools:

  • Department specialties
  • Flexibility of curriculum and schedule
  • Admission/pre-requisite requirements
  • Facilities: library, housing, labs, etc
  • Reputation and quality of program
  • Practical experience opportunities
  • Cost/tuition/availability of financial aid
  • Location/geography
  • Minority students enrolled
  • Faculty/possibility of advisor in your field
  • PhD production and average amount of time to complete
  • Placement of graduates

One of the most crucial things for a prospective PhD student to consider is whether there will be an advisor in your department who can help you advance in your career. When evaluating potential advisors in a program look for the following: tenure/length of time in field, amount of time s/he will be able to spend with you, whether s/he is active and respected in her/his field, and his/her “clout” within the field.

The application itself may contain all or most of the following parts. Each is important. Download the guide for more tips

  • Application form
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
  • Aptitude tests/standardized test scores
  • Interviews, portfolios, auditions
  • Financial aid applications | Fellowship opportunities

Application Requirements Guide

Timelines for admissions to Graduate and Professional Programs

Most people should start the process of preparing for an application a full year and a half before their anticipated date of undergraduate matriculation. Some scholarships have even earlier deadlines.

Most deadlines for classes entering in the fall are between January and March (of your senior year). Application deadlines can range from August (before your senior year) for early decision programs of medical schools, to late spring or summer (after your senior year) for a few programs with rolling admissions.

Grad School: Application Timeline by National Association of Colleges and Employers
The timetable below has been adapted from Peterson’s Guides to Graduate and Professional Programs: An Overview. These guides are available in the Career Development Resource Library, CdC 460.