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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Graduate School

In recent years, many established workers have found it necessary to go back to school for an advanced degree for several reasons. Change is widespread among all industries, especially with the rise of computers and internet technology. The high supply of job candidates with bachelor’s degrees has also triggered a rise in the standards of companies, making the master’s degree or even the doctoral degree seem like a logical step for many people. Alternately, a young worker who avoided grad school for various reasons as a recent college undergrad might feel that an advanced degree is necessary for advancement in his other current position. Career changers, too, often find that they need additional education to qualify themselves for the dream job they’ve always wanted. Additionally, certain professionals will find it necessary to participate in continuing education programs geared toward issuing certificates and qualifications. This page will facilitate self-reflection and empower readers to decide whether more graduate schooling is, in fact, the best option for their career advancement.

As bachelor’s degrees are becoming more common, competition for upper level positions within companies is becoming increasingly stiff. Even though most entry-level jobs do not require a master’s or doctoral degree, additional education is typically required to climb to the next rung of the career ladder. As your career progresses, there are many factors that should influence your decision whether to go to graduate school.

Following is a condensed list of the most important ones to consider:

  • Necessary or expected qualifications of your employer
  • Employer recommendation
  • Opportunities for a raise or promotion
  • Drastic changes in knowledge required, i.e. research methods or technology
  • Self-fulfillment
  • Change of career
  • Continuing education requirements
  • Change in labor market, e.g. increased demand for computer related jobs

Unsure about any of these considerations? Contact the Career Development Center!

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Continuing Education

In many careers, it is both expected and required that you keep up with your education. Certain states have laws that make it necessary for lawyers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and various other professions to continue their education past college, or even post-graduate degree. Often times, this type of continuing education does not require gaining an additional degree but completing online classes in order to gain a certificate. Other career fields, e.g. the computer field, simply evolve and change so fast that continuing education is necessary to keep up with the growth in technology. Programmers typically gain the solid foundation they need to work in college and keep themselves up-to-date through seminars or self-teaching. In cases such as these, it may not be necessary to go to a typical grad school to acquire another degree.

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Career Change

For those interested in changing their career path, graduate school often seems like a requirement. Depending on your prior education and experience, you may or may not need an additional degree. Often times, you will have accrued valuable work experience and transferable skills that will help you apply your previous degree in another seemingly unrelated field. Still, obtaining a graduate degree in your desired field will help you to fine-tune your knowledge and build other valuable skills that relate directly to the new field. In this case, enrolling in a master’s or doctoral degree program will allow you to gain the credentials you need to be considered for such a position. Examples of fields where a specialized graduate degree is required are law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, psychology, upper level business, and many more. On the other hand, certain job fields require certifications and technical skills that do not necessitate degrees. Journalism, computer programming, and computer networking are great examples of this. These sorts of transitions can be made by simply taking advantage of a few classes or seminars offered through your company or at a local graduate school or even just enrolling in a program that offers a certificate.

Transitions between careers can bring great excitement, as well as great stress. A mentor that will guide and advise you as you make the important decisions during this time will prove to be a valuable asset. The UIS Career Development Center offers a wide variety of resources to assist you in these decisions and can help find a trustworthy mentor to support and inspire you as you move forward along your career path.

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Tools for Grad School

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Additional Resources

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