UB - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Chemical and Biological Engineering

Some thoughts on graduate school

For undergraduates who are considering further study

Should I consider graduate study?

Graduate school is not for everyone, but if you're doing reasonably well in your undergraduate studies, you should consider it.

You should have at least a 3.0 QPA, but this isn't a strict guideline.

To enjoy graduate school, you should enjoy learning and like to think independently and creatively. It is quite possible that you would flourish in graduate school even if you didn't really enjoy undergraduate study.

A graduate degree is a prerequisite for any type of research-oriented job. If you want a career in teaching at the university level, you need a graduate degree.

What is graduate school like?

Graduate school is very different from the undergraduate experience, particularly if you are pursuing the Ph.D. Most of your classwork is behind you after the first year. 

After that, you spend most of your time learning and practicing research, and advancing the frontiers of knowledge. It can be very exciting to be solving a problem that no one has attempted or succeeded with before! 

Along the way you publish your work, and the world can read about your accomplishments.

How can I afford more school?

In most cases, you do not have to pay tuition to do graduate study in engineering. 

In fact, most students accepted into graduate study receive financial support, so you get paid while you learn!

Where can I learn more?

Your faculty advisor, or almost anyone in the department is eager to discuss graduate school with you. 

Find a TA you liked and talk about it with him or her.

Each year the Department holds an information session for undergraduates about graduate studies. Be alert for it in the fall semester.

Which graduate school should I consider?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You really should talk to several faculty members to learn about the issues involved in selecting a graduate program.

It is very important to visit the schools you are considering before making a decision. Different schools have different "personalities," and you should try to find one that fits you and your interests.

Should I apply for third-party Fellowships?

Absolutely. If you can win your own financial support, it greatly increases the likelihood of getting into the graduate program of your choice. Plus it can be a real "feather in your cap," one that can help you in other ways down the road.

A particularly good award to aim for is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Check the NSF web page for more information.

NSF also maintains a page with information about other fellowships.

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