What is a Graduate Degree?


Some people discover during the course of their career or right after obtaining their undergraduate degree that they want to go back to school to further their education through obtaining a graduate degree.

A graduate program is a very concentrated course of study.  Most students find that graduate courses are even more interesting than their undergraduate courses because they tend to go into detail about a specific subject matter of their interest, as opposed to just covering the highlights.

Only a small percentage of the population has a graduate degree.  While a graduate degree does not guarantee that you will get a better or higher paying job, but it will provide you with a very specialized knowledge and skill-set that will help you perform your job better and qualify you for more interesting and specialized positions within your field of study.  A graduate degree might also help you switch career fields, if your graduate degree is in something different than your undergraduate degree.

Graduate Degree Options

However, not everyone lives in the vicinity of a university that offers graduate level course in the career field that they have chosen.  Also, balancing a full-time job along with your personal life can make intense graduate studies difficult to pursue.

If you do not live close enough to a university that offers the graduate program that you’re interested in pursuing, you might be surprised to hear that the nearest graduate level curriculum is as far away as your living room or your favorite internet café.  The rising popularity of online courses gives new hope to potential graduate students.  Many online graduate programs will actually allow you to work around your work schedule and complete the program at your own pace.

Online Graduate Degrees

Online courses are becoming more widely accepted across the nation and around the world.  Given this new information age, it only makes sense that we take advantage of this new technology in order to reach our educational goals.  Currently, most online graduate programs are centered on the field of education, with a few graduate degrees being offered in the medical field.  However, as demand grows, so will the availability of graduate courses and degrees that are being offered online.

Traditional Graduate Degrees

If you are lucky enough to live close to a university that offers the graduate program that you’re interested in, you should check to see if the school offers weekend classes.  This is a growing trend for adults who desire to go back to school, but can’t afford to give up work or family time during the week.  However, these courses are much more intense than your average once a week night course, but they typically allow you to complete your degree quicker.

There is still the option of taking one or two classes at a time at night to complete your graduate degree as well.  In fact, this is the more common approach.  Masters degree students only need to take 9 hours per semester to be considered full-time and hence qualify for financial aid.


The moral of the story here is that you do not need to sacrifice your graduate school goals in order to maintain balance in your personal, professional, and family life.  Regardless of whether or not you choose online courses, night courses, or weekend courses, you will have a number of opportunities to complete your degree without sacrificing heavily in order to do so.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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