Know What to Expect in Graduate School

Once you reach the graduate level of your education, professors will expect that your undergraduate degree or work experience has prepared you to be able to do all of the following:

  • Read and comprehend large quantities of material by established deadlines

  • Take thorough notes on lectures

  • Lead discussions and participate in seminars

  • Write lengthy papers

  • Conduct extended research

  • Support your thoughts and ideas, even through lengthy discussions and debates

Taking a graduate-level course from a professor is a different experience than an undergraduate course (even with the same professor). For one thing, the class sizes are typically much smaller. In some large university lecture-hall classes, you might have been one of 200 (or more!) students in the class. This makes it easy to hide, daydream, avoid the professor's eyes and questions, and even skip class. In graduate courses, the typical class size will be some where between 8 to 20 students. Not only will you be called on, you will be expected to discuss your ideas with the professor and class. You will be expected to have read the assignment prior to coming to class, and you will be expected to participate eagerly.