Clemson Center for Career and Professional Development

Career Development & Recruiting

Is Graduate School For You?

Before you begin, ask yourself:

  • What are the major reasons you are considering attending graduate school?
  • Do you have a clear idea of the program or specialized area of interest you would like to pursue?
  • Would you be able to start a career within your field with only a bachelor's degree?
  • Do you want to spend 2-4 more years in school?


Different Types of Graduate Schools

Graduate School

  • Variety of programs to study beyond undergraduate: engineering, counseling, education, accounting, biochemistry, etc.
  • Important to know the specialty area you want to pursue because every field has different specialty areas.
    For example, a graduate student looking to pursue counseling at Clemson University has a choice of a variety of counseling programs such as: Community counseling, School counseling, or Student Affairs. It is important for the graduate student to know which track of counseling s/he wants to pursue.
  • Often evaluate applicants based on application essay question responses and/or the applicant's personal statement.
  • Interested in applicant's experience in leadership, work experience, community service, campus involvement, and test scores (typically GRE)

Law School

  • Obtain a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) in legal education to become a practicing lawyer
  • Undergraduate degree can be in any field, though most American lawyers hold bachelor's degrees in the humanities and social sciences
  • Usually 3 year program
  • Must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
  • For a centralized and simplified application process, register with the Law School Data Assembly Service (LSDAS) to apply to any American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school.
    Visit and click on the tab "The LSDAS" to learn more!

Medical School

  • Learn subjects such as basic sciences, human anatomy, and clinical practice to become a future medical practitioner
  • Medical schools are often highly competitive, with medical schools accepting only a few number of applicants based mostly on test scores such as the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  • For a centralized medical school application process, register with the American Medical CollegemApplication Service (AMCAS) at - most medical schools participate in AMCAS

Business School

  • Obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree
  • Learn topics such as accounting, economics, finance, marketing, and organizational behavi
  • Must take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) for graduate business studies

Applying to Graduate School

Factors to Consider when Choosing Programs

  • Geographical area: Can you afford in-state or out-of-state tuition? Will you be okay being far away from loved ones?
  • Experience: Are graduate assistantships available to gain professional experience and to help assist you financially?
  • Reputation:  Does the program have a standing reputation within your field?
  • Finances:  Are assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships available to help fund your education?
  • Requirements:  Are comprehensive exams, research and/or a thesis required?

Steps for Applying to Graduate School

  • Start researching schools that offer your intended program of study as soon as you can, preferably during your junior year of college. 
  • Utilize resources such as the Career Center, reference books (for instance, Peterson's Guides to Graduate Study and The Chronicle Four-Year College Databook) and the websites below to help you gather information on programs, financial aid, housing, etc.
         Peterson's On-line:
         Grad School Information:
  • Gather information about the programs that interest you by requesting copies of university catalogs, contacting the department to receive bulletins and other materials, and surfing the school or department's web page(s).
  • Research admissions requirements for each school during your junior year.  Some schools may have different requirements than others.  However, typical requirements include:
          Standardized tests (click here to learn more)
          GPA (3.0 or higher is usually preferred)
          Letters of recommendation (usually 2-5) (click here to learn more)
          Official transcripts from each college attended
           Personal Statements / Letters of Intent (click here [pdf] to learn more)
          Interview (sometimes optional)
  • Prepare for and take the required standardized tests in the summer after your junior year or early in the fall semester of your senior year to ensure you meet application deadlines since receiving scores may take several weeks.  Some schools will not accept an application until all application materials, including standardized test scores, are turned in.
  • Begin writing your personal statement and filling out your application the summer before your senior year.  Have your personal statement critiqued by a counselor in the Career Center or take it to the Writing Center located in 305 Daniel.
  • Mail all required admissions documents, information, and fees to ensure your application meets the deadline.
  • Research financial aid opportunities to help fund your education (click here to learn more).