Graduate Admissions Top Tips

A Master’s is the New Bachelor’s

As we all have flipped our calendars to 2019, many students and their families are making plans to visit colleges and universities in the coming months. In some cases, this will be rising juniors and seniors checking out college campuses for the first time. Others will be recent high school graduates planning to attend freshmen orientation at their new colleges this August. Still others are current college undergraduates visiting, and chatting with faculty, at an assortment of graduate schools, as they finalize applications and will soon hear results.


Our work reflects a growing national trend in that almost every student we work with plans an eventual graduate school path. The reality is that in recent years, the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s degree. As recently confirmed in Forbes, “The Master’s Degree Continues to Thrive” over 800,000 U.S. master’s degrees will be awarded this year and since the year 2000, the percentage of earned master’s (60%) has outpaced the increase in baccalaureate degrees (52%).

The bottom line is “The master’s degree has become a much more important part of the American mobility story,“ as Dr. Katherine Newman, Dean of The School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins has stated. And  –WE AGREE!


1.) Start (or continue) researching your scholarly and professional goals in the context of graduate school. Schedule an in-person meeting or draft an email so that you can engage in conversations with 1-2 professors at your college (or elsewhere) who are presently teaching and researching in your field of interest for graduate study. What graduate schools did they attend? What programs do they recommend? What research are they most passionate about? Research the programs they advise and take notes on your personal reflections from these conversations (they will be valuable as you write your personal statement for graduate school applications!)

2.) Make a list of prospective graduate schools and programs and research their current faculty and graduate students. For faculty, explore what they teach, what they research, and if possible, what their current advisees, research assistants, and teaching fellows are working on. For example, let’s say you are considering applying to Columbia University’s PhD program in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Here is a great website to see what their current PhD students are studying. What are their scholarly areas of interest within their fields? What articles have they co-authored with peer students and their advisors? Here’s one student who published three articles and links to them. This is a superb way to explore the many disciplines that you could focus on as a masters or doctoral applicant.

3.) Determine if your prospective graduate schools have scheduled visits near you and seek out grad fairs! If not, make arrangements to meet with appropriate professors in your field of interest. The annual fall Idealist Boston grad fair would be a TERRIFIC grad fair to attend. They did 11 cities in the U.S. in 2018 and plan to do the same in 2019.


The good news is that Top Tier Admissions is here to help. Pursuit of a graduate degree is one of the best possible ways to invest in yourself, expand your frame of experience and discovery, and meaningfully contribute to your scholarly background, your career and your field.

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