Your acceptance to graduate school is based on a higher quality of scholastic accomplishment than undergraduate study. Therefore the difference between the two levels of education is also based on a higher quality of scholarship. Graduate study is different than undergraduate study in a number of significant ways.
Possibly the first difference you may notice between graduate and undergraduate school is the cost. Graduate school is quite a bit more expensive than undergraduate school. If you are a non resident student that cost jumps even higher. With various forms of funding you may be able to cover your tuition costs and have some left over to live on.
To complement the high cost of graduate school, most programs offer their graduate students a teaching assistantship. This is another big difference from undergraduate school. A teaching assistantship can serve as your part time job while in your graduate program. You will be paid and your tuition costs may be waived as well.
The expectations of students are much higher in graduate school. Many programs have a bi-yearly review process where your work is evaluated and critiqued. The results of this review could lead to your dismissal from the program if you have not met the department’s expectations.
Writing becomes extremely important as you prepare to execute your thesis in your last year. Projects and presentations are stepped up as well. Learning to do comprehensive and thorough research is a large part of what your graduate study is about. Research in graduate school goes to a different depth than in your undergraduate study and the expectations of your research will be high.
Classes are usually smaller in graduate school. You can no longer hide among the masses of students that were present in undergraduate school. Class participation is counted as a larger percentage of your grade. Graduate students are asked to evaluate and form opinions and questions about subject matter and be able to discuss them in class.
There is a greater sense of professionalism in graduate school. This level of education is where more intense career training takes place and you will be asked to conduct yourself professionally. You may also be asked to leave off your casual to sloppy student attire and dress in a more professional manner.
The biggest difference between graduate and undergraduate school is in the thesis or dissertation. A thesis or dissertation is a large research and writing project that can be as long as 100 pages. It follows strict academic writing guidelines and must exhibit high quality scholarship. It is usually accompanied by comprehensive exams and a formal defense.
Graduate school may appear to be intimidating. It is certainly not to be taken casually, but it is the next level of education that will take you to a more highly professional level. No one should go into graduate school without understanding the differences between it and undergraduate study.