Graduate school: What you should know about the master’s degree and the doctorate

Once you have received your bachelor’s degree, you may want to go on to college to work on a master’s degree or a doctorate. You must get your bachelor’s degree before the master’s degree. Normally you have to get your master’s degree before pursuing the doctorate. However, there are colleges that will accept you for a combined master’s and Ph.D.

Graduate school

When you have received your bachelor’s degree, you can go on to graduate school. Graduate school refers to the program that you will enter to receive your master’s degree and your doctorate. Most colleges and universities offer graduate school programs.

The tests

In order to be accepted into graduate school you may have to take the GRE exam. This exam consists mainly of math skills, verbal skills and two essays. Prospective students wanting to go into business management may have to take the GMAT or the Graduate Management Admission Test. There are four different areas tested: writing, reasoning, quantitative and verbal.

The test for law school is the LSAT and tests logical reasoning (arguments), analytical reasoning (games) and reading comprehension. There is also an essay. The test for medical school or the MCAT tests the physical and biological sciences and verbal reasoning.

Some graduate schools will have their own tests, an essay, interview and other criteria for acceptance into their graduate program. Some graduate schools may look at the candidate’s professional experience.

The master’s degree

The master’s degree takes from one to two years and is focused on one specific subject. It is not like working on your bachelor’s degree where you must take a lot of courses that are unrelated to your major. The bachelor’s degree is meant to give one a well-rounded education, whereas the master’s degree is intended to show your expertise in a specific subject area.

Requirements necessary to get into a master’s program may be different at different colleges. You will usually have to give references and write an essay and turn in all transcripts from other schools you have attended and your official transcript from the school where you received your bachelor’s degree. Depending on the university that you are applying to, you may have to take a written test.

In actuality, the master’s degree is easier than a bachelor’s degree because you are focusing on one subject and all courses related to that subject, rather than a broad range of subjects that you may not have as much interest in or may not know as much about. Bachelor’s degrees offer a lot of introductory courses that cover a wide range of material, which makes them harder.

In order to graduate from the master’s degree program and receive your degree, you must write a thesis, which is a large paper and you must make a presentation of your thesis. This might be the hardest part of doing the master’s degree. You might be standing at the podium in front of an audience and projecting your work on a large screen. But the culmination is being able to walk on stage in front of another audience to receive your hard worked for degree.

Once your receive your master’s degree you will probably want to do a doctorate or Ph.D. There are doctorates for degrees other than the Ph.D., such as the Juris Doctorate if you are becoming a lawyer or M.D. if you are becoming a medical doctor.

The doctorate

The doctorate or Ph.D. typically takes up to six years and is not nearly as easy as getting your master’s. Candidates for the Ph.D. typically must write a book (thesis) about their subject. Once a Ph.D. candidate has done the work, they must be approved by a panel of professors at the University they are attending. This may not be easy. The candidate for the Ph.D. may do the research and not agree with the panel of professors. If the candidate’s work is insufficient or does not agree with the ideals of the professors evaluating the candidate’s work, the candidate will not be granted his Ph.D. If one professor on the panel disagrees with the other professors in granting a degree, the candidate must still keep working on his degree. Some Ph.D. students never get their degrees.

The doctorate or Ph.D. requires a thesis or dissertation and a defense of that dissertation. One must totally master their subject area for the Ph.D. and extend that subject area to include research.

Once you earn your Ph.D you will be qualified to teach at any university, provided you apply and are accepted as a professor at that university.

Students who have received their master’s degrees can also be accepted as college instructors and are sometimes called professors at the colleges where they teach. They may have written a book also.

Whether you are going for the master’s degree or for the Ph.D. you will have a lot of work and research ahead of you. Though the master’s degree might feel easier than the bachelor’s degree, there is a lot more work and research required. Only attempt the master’s or doctorate if you like doing research. If you are planning to teach at the college level, a Ph.D. is usually required, but certain fields such as mathematics may be more lucrative for teaching in a college with only the master’s degree, since good math instructors are hard to find.