Undergraduate to Graduate School: Navigating the Change

Photo courtesy of Pitzer College

Dean of the graduate school discusses tips on how to smoothly make the transition, and how to ensure success in graduate level studies.

Sam Houston State University’s graduate school offers 60 master’s level programs and 11 doctoral programs, so students can develop more skills for their chosen career.

The first step to graduate school is deciding to go get a master’s degree. The graduate school office (located in the Templeton Building near Elliott Hall) is open for students to come inquire about their potential next step after graduation.

According to Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Ken Hendrickson, a student should think about “when” as they decide whether to get a master’s degree.

In some career paths, like medical services, professionals must have a master’s before entering the work force. Other jobs may need a mixture of work experience and then graduate studies.

“We want to help by interviewing you and determine if you have a general idea about the graduate study,” Hendrickson said. The office has a designated graduate program recruiter who helps with GRE prep and can provide information about faculty contacts, financial aid eligibility and what programs are in a career path.

The GRE is a standardized test used to determine admissions to master’s and doctoral programs.

“Make that exam prep kind of your hobby,” Hendrickson said. “Just practice it and get used to and comfortable with it and reduce the anxiety associated with it.”

Once a student has decided to advance towards a master’s, they must complete the application process. Hendrickson suggests students preparing their applications to graduate school research more about their chosen career paths.

“You want to show somebody you have taken time to figure what the pros think about,” Hendrickson said.

Taking the time to research the issues and wants of the work force can help with creating cover letters or preparing for interviews in the application process.

As a person joins a master’s program, they will see a change of tone between undergraduate and graduate school. Students work closer to faculty in their department and the overall educational experience is held to a higher standard.

“You were held in strict account in certain course skills— like there was very little forgiveness if you were not a top notch writer,” Hendrickson said when reflecting on his own experience as a graduate student.

He welcomes every student to come visit the graduate school office and learn more about continuing their education.

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