Is Graduate Study for You?

More and more students are beginning to consider pursuing graduate studies.  They realize the longer-term benefits both professionally and personally.  While many are anxious to finish school and start working, there are benefits to furthering your education at the graduate level.  Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if it’s for you:

  • Are you self-motivated?

Graduate study requires that you be self-motivated and determined, able to identify and pursue a line of inquiry, and to gather the resources necessary to undertake investigation.  It requires curiosity, resourcefulness, commitment and perseverance.  Often an area of study may not have an immediate practical application.  And, in engineering, the possibility of a competitive technology being developed is always there.

  • Do you have a passion to learn more about a particular subject?

Study at the graduate level puts you at the leading-edge of new knowledge and developments.  It gives you access to leading thinkers in your field and the opportunity to participate in breakthrough discoveries.  It can open doors to collaborations not only within your field but across disciplines.

  • Are you looking to develop expertise in a particular area?

Many new graduate programs today are geared to helping students gain a new expertise to complement an existing one.  For example, McMaster offers professional engineers the opportunity to study public policy or engineering design at the Master’s level.  There is also a Master’s program geared to those with an entrepreneurial aptitude wanting to start their own businesses or work with their company to bring a new technology to market.

  • Are you looking for a research or academic career?

In Canada, graduate studies have traditionally been seen as the route chosen by those wishing to pursue an academic or research career.  That is still the case.  However, today, there is much more migration between the private and public sectors as individuals look to apply knowledge or, inversely, pursue investigation in a particular area that is not immediately applicable.

  • Do you have good grades?

Good grades generally indicate that you are interested in learning, have the ability to study and have obtained the necessary knowledge to work at the graduate level.  While good grades are important to qualify for most graduate programs they are only one factor taken into consideration for admission.

  • Are you looking to develop strong professional and social networks?

The nature of graduate study requires interaction with a wide variety of people within the academic, government and private sectors.  It provides a great opportunity to develop a strong network of professional colleagues but also of personal friendships.

  • Do you have a long-term outlook for your career?

Most students earn an income studying at the graduate level.  However, it is usually less than what their peers with full-time employment are making.  Those choosing to pursue graduate studies tend to have a longer-term outlook for their income potential.  Graduate degrees usually lead to better remuneration over the long term.