July 2015

How important is academic excellence?

In general, your grade point average, or GPA, must be 3.0 or higher for you to be admitted to graduate study. In short, the best advice is: Get good grades! Get good grades! Get good grades! You must do particularly well in courses related to your field and in upper division courses in general (at UHM, upper division means 300- and 400-level). For general admission purposes, UHM looks at only the last two years. Admissions committees of schools and of individual programs will study the courses you took, looking carefully at the kinds of courses, content areas, level of difficulty, [...]

How can I get the kind of experience I will need?

Gain Experience (especially important for professional degrees) Faculty admission committees want to know whether you understand the nature of the work before they commit to the effort required to produce a graduate student. Gaining experience is also for your own protection. Graduate, and especially professional degrees are very expensive. You need to be sure that this is what you want to do before you invest several years and many thousands of dollars in pursuing a degree. Where can I gain experience? Internships or practica. These are often connected to courses in your major, and you should take advantage of these [...]

How can I fine tune my focus?

Take an independent study course (399 or 499) and write a research paper in an area of interest. For example, if you are interested in music, you might analyze Mozart’s wind concertos. If you are interested in Chinese history, you might study the Cultural Revolution. This will not only give you a chance to get to know your professors better, but will show you a good example of what it is like to be an independent scholar as graduate students need to be. Read journal articles in your specialty area. This is helpful for any level of graduate study, because [...]

Why do I need an area of specialization before I apply?

A specialization is critical in helping you create a fit with a graduate program. If you know your focus before you apply, you can be sure the program will have the necessary resources to support your studies, you will have colleagues to collaborate with, and you will have at least one expert to oversee your work. If you choose a focus after being accepted, you may not be able to study  your primary interest or you may have problems finishing your degree. How can I find an area of specialization? If you do not have a focus, ask yourself: What [...]

How can I prepare for graduate school?

 If you are certain you want to go to graduate school, you will need to prepare in order to: be admitted to the program you want; and be successful after you are in. A. Join the academic community Professional organizations. All fields of study involve a national or even global community of scholars, who conduct research, teach, and publish. These people know each other and often meet at conventions and conferences. Professors can help their graduate students and their most promising undergraduate students become part of the community. Become a student member of your field’s professional organization(s). Read the organizations’ [...]

How can I prepare for graduate school?

Differences in style: In general, as an undergraduate, you acquired knowledge and skills; as a graduate, you will apply knowledge and skills. As Tara Kuther stated in her book Graduate School, “Graduate education entails a critical transition from consumer of knowledge to producer of knowledge.” You attended an undergraduate program to acquire the basic liberal arts skills of reading, writing, quantitative reasoning, and critical analysis, as well as a general foundation in a field. In graduate school, you will put those skills to work, applying and producing knowledge within a specialized area of your field. Because graduate programs vary so [...]

What kind of graduate programs are available?

Research Graduate Programs The final step before applying is to study which graduate programs are of interest to you and would be a good fit. Specifically, does a given university have the right degree within the right program for your focus? For example, let us say that you interested in the study of fish as a food. You are pretty sure you want to get a PhD, but you want to get a Masters first. Would your focus be best found in a zoology program where they have a specialization in ichthyology (the study of fish)? In a food science [...]

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