Preparing for Graduate School
When Considering attending graduate school, there are many factors that affect which school is the right fit for you. For instance, what type of degree do you want to recieve?
- Master's Programs are typically a 2-3 year commitment geared toward increasing you knowledge and experience in a certain area.
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs range between 5-7 years and are focused on deeply increasing knowledge in one area to research and teach in academia (at a university-level) or to perform a specific task in an industry enviornment.
- Professional school programs help prepare students to careers in specific feilds and can range from 1-5 years. Example include medical school, law school and education programs.
Determining which type of program best suits you is your first step in finding the best graduate school.
Below are some additional questions to ask yourself regarding other factors:
Academic requirements: What is the GPA requirement? What is the program’s average GPA? Does my GPA meet the requirement or is it close to their average? Have I completed all of the prerequisites required for the program? Do you need to take the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or any other entrance exam?
Experience requirements: What are the experience requirements for the program? Have I completed and documented those experiences? If your academic history doesn’t qualify you as a strong candidate, taking some time to gain experience in the field could boost your application.
Ally communities: Does this university have resources for undocumented students? How easy is it to find support on campus through a form of an Undocumented Student Services office? What student organizations are available to find support? Some examples include Pre-Health Dreamers, Dream Bar Association, and Graduates Reaching a Dream Deferred.
Cost: What types of financial aid are available to me? Does this program or university offer scholarships and/or assistantships to offset the cost of graduate school? Do they provide a full-ride offer for undocumented students?
Licensure: Many fields require certification or licensure at the completion of an advanced program, i.e. Teacher Credential, Law School. Check with the schools you are considering to see how you status could impact the licensure process for your chosen field.
How To Pay For Graduate School
Paying for graduate school could be the greatest stressor when deciding or accepting to go to graduate school. Funding from the program may depend on which type of program you apply to. For instance, Ph.D. programs oftentimes are fully funded by the institution since they are a longer commitment of time, while Master’s programs are rarely fully funded. However, there are additional sources of funding that could help alleviate or satisfy the cost of graduate school.
Fellowships/scholarships: Private and institutional scholarships could be available for undocumented students. Some are even exclusively open to undocumented students. Be sure to check with your institution about what may be available to you. Educators for Fair Consideration have also published a list of scholarships and fellowships from 2014 that do not require proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency. Fellowships may have restrictions in regards to immigration status.
Assistantships: Many graduate programs will offer assistantships which allow students to work on-campus as research assistants (RAs) or teaching assistants (TAs). You’ve probably worked with these graduate assistants in your course labs or lectures. If you have DACA status, you qualify to work as graduate assistant where you are paid and could also receive a stipend to cover the cost of tuition. This gives you experience in that field while also being able to financially support yourself.
Private loans: Depending on restrictions with each banking institution, you may be able to receive private loans. Large student loan amounts could require a co-signer, however, some banks may allow a small private loan without one.