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Published:February 14th, 2010 18:46 EST

Personal Questions to ask Yourself About Graduate Study

By Donald C. Martin

At some point in your recent past you have decided to consider graduate study.  You may or may not end up going in that direction, but for now it is on your mind.  Before going any further, ask yourself the following seven questions:

 Graduate Study

            1.  Why do you want to do this?  There are many reasons.  Here are some: 

    1. To truly learn more
    2. To add a credential to your resume
    3. To have a better chance of being promoted
    4. To have more credibility in your chosen field
    5. To change careers
    6. To increase your earning potential
    7. Because of pressure from your family
    8. Because of a need to feel better about yourself
    9. Because you don`t know what else to do at the moment
    10. Something else

2.  Why do you want to do this now?

a.     Because you are mentally/emotionally ready for a new challenge

b.     Because your employer is encouraging you to do so, and might help sponsor you

c.     Because you have reached a plateau in your career

d.     Because you are not getting any younger

e.     Because it is a logical next step for you professionally

f.      Because you are ready financially

g.     Because you have the necessary time to commit

h.     Something else


3.     What type of academic/professional degree are you seeking?

a.     M.A., M.S., J.D., MBA, MSW, MSJ, M.Ed., etc.,

b.     Ed.D., Ph.D., LL.M., M.D., Psy.D., etc.

c.     Joint degree

If you are seeking a degree in law, medicine, or business, you have a fairly clear idea of the type of professional graduate degree you need.  However, if you are thinking about education, social service, public policy, the humanities, social sciences, etc., you may want to do a more thorough search of the type of degree earned for the area in which you are interested.  For example, you may not need a Ph.D. to advance in the area of public policy; a master`s degree may be sufficient.


4.     Is there a geographic region of your country or the world where you would like to study?  Perhaps you have always wanted to live in another part of your country or go abroad for graduate study.  Knowing what you are thinking as to location will help guide your search.  However, at this early stage be careful not to rule out a certain location completely.  During the search process, you may find that an option emerges in that geographic region that may be worth a closer look.


For all 7 personal questions, a 12-month checklist before applying and much more, go to Dr. Martin`s website and order his book Road Map for Graduate Study:  A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students.  The website address is