Is Graduate School on Your Horizon?

First, let me begin by congratulating all of our recent School of Music graduates! It was wonderful seeing all of you walk across the stage and officially become UofL Alumni. I feel like this post comes at an appropriate time, since graduation has been on many of your minds. Many of you already have post-graduation plans but some of you may be uncertain. Many of our School of Music students continue onto graduate school after they receive their bachelor’s degree.

There are several steps involved in the graduate school deciding making process. If you have been considering graduate school as an option, refer to the following list that outlines several of the steps involved in the graduate school selection process:

1. Is graduate school right for me?
Deciding whether graduate school is an appropriate choice for you can be a difficult task. Your first task is to consider your career goals. What is it that you are seeking in a career? Does it require additional education and training? These are a few examples of the types of questions you should be asking yourself in order to determine whether graduate school is an appropriate choice for you.

2. What type of program would I want to pursue?
If you have determined that you would like to attend graduate school, your next task is to decide upon the type of program in which you seek to enroll. This step is crucial in determining your target graduate schools. You will find that the programs offered vary greatly from institution to institution. Some questions to consider: Are you aiming for a master’s degree, or a Ph.D? What programs would help me to achieve my career goals?

3. What universities do I want to apply to?
Every graduate program differs based on the university, so take a careful look at what different institutions and programs have to offer. You will want to consider the following aspects when deciding upon particular institutions:

-programs offered
-tuition cost
-available financial aid (scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, grants, etc.)
-student-faculty ratio
-reputation of the institution
-geographic location
-experience level of faculty members
-acceptance requirements

David Cutter, author of The Savvy Musician made two insightful blog posts about selecting the “perfect” graduate school. Take a look at these two posts:

Choosing the Perfect Grad School: Part 1

Choosing the Perfect Grad School: Part 2

4. How do I apply?
Each university will have their own application process. However, most universities require a few basic items. First, you will need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It is highly recommended to purchase a study manual in order to prepare for this test. You can purchase these online and in most bookstores. You will need to register to take the GRE, which can be done at: http://www.ets.org/gre/. When you register for the exam, you will specify the institutions that you wish to have your scores sent to. You will also have to complete an application for each university.. Most universities have a fee that is paid upon submission of your application. Two other common application requirements are letters of reference and personal statements. Visit the following link for advice on personal statements: http://louisville.edu/career/students/graduate-school-information/personal-statements

Once you have applied to all of your institutions, be patient. It will take a while for each university to get back to you. While you are waiting to be notified, seek out funding opportunities at each institution, particularly assistantships and fellowships. Assistantships and fellowships can be extremely competitive, so the earlier you start searching and applying for them, the better chance you have of receiving funding.

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