Honors College

Library Resources for Honors Students at the University of Arkansas

Graduate School Strategies

1. Motivations and career goals.

Understand the 'why' you are going back or remaining in school. What do you hope to achieve by going back to school?Examine the program concentrations offered at each institution and could have certain specializations. Make sure the program you choose reflects your career interests.Look at the types of credentials professionals in the industry possess and research the types of skills potential employers are looking for. Check to see that the degree program offers opportunities to learn and develop those same skills.

2. Explore options and gather information.

Once you’ve determined your motivations for returning to school, leave yourself time to research the types of degree programs available in your preferred area of study and the opportunities each can create. Location is another important factor and in determining not just the school but where you want to work.

3. Select a program with your lifestyle.

Make sure the degree program you choose will realistically fit within your lifestyle, and determine what level of flexibility you need.Some degrees can be earned in as little as 12 months, while others can take years. Some require face to face while others can be held online or in a hybrid format.Determine how much time to invest, work and family commitments, and the type of graduate experience.

4. Financial Cost

Is graduate school affordable?Check out the financial aid options along with scholarships, loans, and grants, some schools may offer assistantships or fellowships for graduate students.

5. Talk to admissions advisors, students, and alumni.

When determining your graduate school options, it’s important to talk to graduate admissions advisors, current students and alumni. Begin by creating a list of questions to ask, such as:

  • Do you have enough academic and career guidance?
  • What do you like and dislike about your program?
  • Are you happy with your professors?
  • How do you feel about the student community?
  • What do you wish you knew before enrolling?

6. Talk to faculty.

Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their background to see if it aligns with what you want to learn.Apply to universities that have one or more professors who focus on your area of interest, and with whom you can imagine collaborating while earning your degree.

1. Location

This may sound basic, but think about the environment of where the graduate school is located. Is it in a small town or a large metropolitan area? Think about how long you'll be there, the cost of living, residential options, etc.

2. Personal Life

Is it just you to worry about or do you have a spouse or family to take care of? Should you look into childcare and employment opportunities for them? Some grad schools can provide options and solutions to this.

3. Time

Most masters degrees take about two years while a doctorate can take four or five years. Additionally, this depends on the course load meaning are you attending full or part time.

4. Online vs On campus

Not every graduate school offers the same courses and degree program as well as the format it is presented in. Some are more flexible than others.

5. Ranking and Prestige

Although rankings are not the end all to graduate school, it may be worth looking into especially when considering a degree at which the institution that offers it is accredited. The prestige and rankings of an institution can go a bit further after graduating and entering the professional workforce.

6. Size and Category

As mentioned previously, not all graduate schools are structured the same. Some are small while others are large, and for the most part, the class sizes will be smaller. Additionally, a graduate school with religious affiliations or other types of specialties may influence the requirements and courses offered.


Every institution will require you to go through this process and it can be achieved in steps. Universities will usually have a webpage dedicated for those interested in applying for graduate school. Just make sure to complete the requirements as deadlines come and go quickly and you don't want to miss the opportunity of applying.

1. Application Form and Fee

Most universities will have you fill out a form that contains basic information for their records. This is one of the first steps and there is a cost associated with applying.

2. Request of transcripts

Requesting transcripts from your previous institution is necessary along with requesting from those you may have transferred from or received previous course credit.

3. Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is supposed to outline your goals and why you want to attend graduate school.

4. Letters of Recommendation

This can be obtained from previous employers and/or professors that you have taken courses in. You'll also want to consider requesting from those you not only did well in the course, but that they remembered your work and participation.

5. GRE, GMAT, LSAT (if applicable)

This is a requirement for most graduate schools. Be sure to look up testing times and locations near you and that the scores are sent to the institution(s) you are interested in attending.