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:
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
- 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
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
- 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.