View Text Only Version

Twardowski Career Development Center

Graduate School

Contact Us  

Twardowski Career Development Center

705 S New Street
Lawrence Center 225
West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2501

Monday-Friday: 8:00am-4:30pm (Fall & Spring Semesters)
Monday-Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm (Summer)

Drop-In Hours (no appointment needed):
Monday-Friday: 1:00-3:00pm

Graduate School

Why Pursue Graduate School?

Considering applying to graduate or professional school? Assess your goals, strengths, interests, and motivation prior to beginning the application process. Graduate and professional school provides you with greater depth of knowledge of a discipline (it can also be interdisciplinary) and/or career training and credentials for a specific professional path. If your career goals require, or would be advanced by, further education, or if you are interested in any type of research or academic career, a graduate degree is likely needed. Perhaps you simply value education and want to pursue another degree for personal growth and development. These are all good reasons to consider graduate education.

Many who are uncertain about future career goals, or who are hoping to wait out a poor job market, will go directly to graduate school. Think about this choice carefully. Some will argue that you should first gain some work experience, clarify your goals, and then pursue further education when you are ready to make the most of the experience. Utilize faculty mentors and advisers as well as career development professionals to help clarify your goals.

You may schedule an appointment with a career development staff member to: discuss and determine whether graduate study will help achieve and advance your career goals, learn how to obtain information about programs of interest, get assistance with information about admissions tests and financial aid, and have application materials such as personal statements, resumes, and related materials reviewed.

Researching Schools and Programs

Where to look (a few selected sites)

Details to look for when researching a school and program

  • Do the curriculum and types of degrees offered support your goals?
  • What are the faculty members' research interests and specialties, and how might they relate to or support your interests?
  • What are the admission test requirements (e.g., GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT) and prerequisites (e.g., GPA, undergraduate degree, recommendations)?
  • What is the size of the program (i.e., the number of students, the size and diversity of the faculty)?
  • How competitive and selective is the program?
  • Is the program accredited by an organization that affirms its quality?
  • What financing options are available?
  • What is the campus/town/city/state like and does it offer you your preferred lifestyle choices?

Application Process & Timeline

Application Timeline PDF Icon

Application Process Tips and Considerations

  • As a general rule, consider applying to 5-7 programs; this will vary with competitiveness of the field and costs of applications.
  • Prior to beginning an online application, try to get a complete copy so you can review it carefully and gather all necessary information to make the application process most efficient. Follow instructions!
  • You will most likely have to write a statement of purpose, essay(s), or personal statement. Have others review your essays and provide feedback. Answer the questions each school provides; do not use one generic essay for all applications. Proofread!
  • Ask professors in advance if they can provide recommendation letters. Provide ample time in advance of deadlines (1-2 months) for professors to write letters. Give them clear instructions regarding where and when to submit the letters; most faculty will also like a copy of your application essay and/or resume to help them as they tailor their letter for you and your goals.
  • Request official transcripts from all universities, colleges, or community colleges where you completed coursework.
  • Standardized test scores (e.g., GRE) will be submitted to each school you designate on your score report. You may have to arrange and pay for additional score reports should you apply to a larger number of programs.
  • Other items you may need include: resume, portfolio, co-curricular portfolio, and a writing sample such as a graded academic paper.

Admissions Tests

  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • LSAT (Law School Admission Test)
  • GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
  • MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
  • DAT (Dental Admission Test)
  • OAT (Optometry Admission Test)

Test Preparation Resources

There are a variety of resources to prepare for graduate entrance exams, such as books you can purchase or websites about graduate school admission and preparation (such as this GRE prep site). When you register for a standardized test, you may be offered or provided test preparation materials. You may choose to enroll in a test preparation course such as those provided by Kaplan, Princeton Review, and other vendors. West Chester University offers test prep classes, as well as many community colleges. Note: Many preparatory programs are fee-based services and we encourage you to investigate and research your options carefully.

Financing Graduate School

There are many sources of funding for graduate school, such as fellowships or traineeships, assistantships (teaching, research, and administrative), scholarships, grants and loans, and veteran benefits.

  • Always complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and apply early before funding gets fully allocated.
  • Do not assume funding sources are centralized on campus. Check with the Graduate School, the department to which you are applying, and the Financial Aid office to be aware of all options.
  • Research grants in advance, particularly in the science, technology, and mathematics fields, as they might strengthen your admissions chances for certain programs (e.g., NSF in the sciences).
  • Always research special scholarship programs.
  • A visit to a good library and a conversation with a Reference Librarian should yield you some good strategies for researching scholarships and grants.