I may want to go to graduate school. What is it like?

How life is different from the typical undergraduate experience.

Time and Resource Commitment

Some programs allow part-time graduate study, but others expect a full-time commitment. The full-time commitment is necessary because the nature of what is being studied requires your full attention in order to perform at a professional level.

Most graduate schools provide some form of funding or in-house work for their graduate students, called a graduate assistantship. The student might help collect data, aid in teaching a class, or work with on individual faculty member on other tasks. For further comments on finances and graduate school: Financial Concerns.

Although there may be a few lecture courses in a graduate program, most courses are seminars, with the students as active participants. This means that students must come fully prepared for all class meetings, having read the assigned materials and prepared to discuss them. Often students take turns leading the discussion. In other courses students will be expected to do a lot of outside research (in the library or lab).

Because so much of a graduate student's learning is supposed to be independent, he or she generally has a fair amount of control over his or her individual schedule, especially after the first year. While this is a welcome change for most students, it can present problems for students who procrastinate or who are not self-starters.


For the student who has done an outstanding job as an undergraduate, the adjustment to graduate school can be a surprise. You will likely find yourself in a group of people with the same level of ability as your own. Students who are used to being the top student in every class are sometimes dismayed to find that every other student in the program is used to the same thing!

However, it helps to realize that your being admitted to a graduate program means that the faculty are confident of your ability to succeed if you will put forth the necessary effort.


Graduate school is for those interested in developing their abilities to the fullest extent possible, in expanding their understanding of their chosen field, and in learning to behave with professionalism.

Directions iconOpen directions in a new window | Start over from the beginning | Information iconOpen further Information in a new window

Presented by the M.A. - Clinical Psychology (http://edtech.tph.wku.edu/~psych/areas/clinic/) and Ed. S. - School Psychology (http://edtech.tph.wku.edu/~psych/areas/school/) Graduate Programs of Western Kentucky University

Created: 10/4/00; Last modified: 10/30/00
© since 2000

Questions or comments about the graduate programs: contact psych@edtech.cebs.wku.edu
Questions or comments about the website design: contact information