People attend graduate school for myriad reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • To study a subject in more detail. For example, after completing a Bachelor degree in Sociology, you might attend graduate school to specialize in juvenile delinquency.
  • To study a subject that was not offered at the Bachelor level. For example, degrees in specialized fields such as Educational Administration, Public Health, or Astrophysics are available only at the graduate level.
  • To study a new subject or change fields. Many students use graduate school as an opportunity to enter a new field. For example, an Art major may decide to enter medical school, or a Psychology major may choose to study creative writing. Those who are considering changing fields should be aware that many graduate programs have specific prerequisites.
    To obtain a credential or degree necessary to begin practice in a particular field. For example, those who plan to teach must first complete a teaching certificate, and psychologists must complete a degree in clinical psychology before they can begin practice.
  • To become eligible for better, higher paying jobs. In general, those who complete graduate degrees earn more and have more career options than those who hold a Bachelor degree. Higher salaries and better jobs are not, however, the best reasons for pursuing a graduate degree. Graduate degrees offer no guarantees: many skilled laborers and business executives earn very high salaries with a Bachelor degree and expertise.

Students sometimes continue on into graduate school because they are comfortable as students and do not yet want to enter the work world, or because they cannot think of anything else in particular they would like to do. Students who attend graduate school for these reasons are often disappointed and often do poorly because graduate school is markedly different from the undergraduate experience.