Graduate school

Graduate school

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A graduate school is a school
School
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

 that awards advanced academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

s (i.e. master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

s and Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 degrees) with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate
Undergraduate education
Undergraduate education is an education level taken prior to gaining a first degree . Hence, in many subjects in many educational systems, undergraduate education is post-secondary education up to the level of a bachelor's degree, such as in the United States, where a university entry level is...

 (bachelor's
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

) degree. A distinction is typically made between graduate schools (where courses of study do not provide training for a particular profession) and professional school
Professional school
A professional school is a school type that prepares students for careers in specific fields.Examples of this type of school include:* Architecture school* Business school* Dental school* Education school* Journalism school* Law school* Library school...

s, which offer specialized advanced degrees in professional fields such as medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

, business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

, or law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

.

Many universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 award graduate degrees; a graduate school is not necessarily a separate institution. While the term "graduate school" is common in North America, "postgraduate education
Postgraduate education
Postgraduate education involves learning and studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of higher education...

" is commonly used in English-speaking countries other than the United States (Australia, Canada (which uses both terms), India, New Zealand and the UK) to refer to the spectrum of education beyond a bachelor's degree. Those attending graduate schools are called "graduate students," or in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

, "postgraduate students," and, colloquially, "postgraduates." Degrees awarded to graduate students include master's degrees, doctoral degrees
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

, and other postgraduate qualifications such as graduate certificates and professional degrees.

Producing original research is often a significant component of graduate studies, including the writing and defense of a thesis or dissertation. The term "graduate school" is primarily North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n. Additionally, in North America, the term does not usually refer to medical school
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

 (whose students are called "medical students"), and only occasionally refers to law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

 or business school
Business school
A business school is a university-level institution that confers degrees in Business Administration. It teaches topics such as accounting, administration, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems, marketing, organizational behavior, public relations, strategy, human resource...

. (The latter types of programs are often collectively termed professional school
Professional school
A professional school is a school type that prepares students for careers in specific fields.Examples of this type of school include:* Architecture school* Business school* Dental school* Education school* Journalism school* Law school* Library school...

s).

Although graduate school programs are distinct experiences from undergraduate degree programs, graduate instruction (in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, and other countries) is often offered by some of the same senior academic staff and departments that teach undergraduate courses. Unlike in undergraduate programs, however, it is rare for graduate students to take coursework
Coursework
Coursework is the name for work carried out by students at university or middle/high school that contributes towards their overall grade, but which is assessed separately from their final exams. Coursework can, for example, take the form of experimental work, or may involve research in the...

 outside their specific field of study at graduate or graduate entry
Graduate entry
A graduate entry degree is term used for an academic degree that requires at minimum a previous bachelors degree for admission. It is most commonly used to refer to first professional degree programs...

 level. At the Ph.D. level, though, it is quite common to take courses from a wider range of study, for which some fixed portion of coursework, sometimes known as a residency, is typically required to be taken from outside the department and college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

 of the degree-seeking candidate, to broaden the research abilities of the student. Some institutions designate separate graduate versus undergraduate staff and denote other divisions (often called School of X, e.g., diplomacy)

Admission


While most graduate programs will have a similar list of general admission requirements, the importance placed on each type of requirement can vary drastically between graduate schools, departments within schools, and even programs within departments. The best way to determine how a graduate program will weigh admission materials is to ask the person in charge of graduate admissions at the particular program being applied to.
Admission to graduate school requires a bachelor's degree. High grades in one's field of study are important—grades outside the field less so. The Graduate Record Examination
Graduate Record Examination
The Graduate Record Examinations is a standardized test that is an admissions requirement for many graduate schools in the United States, in other English-speaking countries and for English-taught graduate and business programs world-wide...

 standardized test
Standardized test
A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a...

 is required by almost all graduate schools, while other additional standardised tests (such as the Graduate Management Admission Test
Graduate Management Admission Test
The Graduate Management Admission Test is a computer-adaptive standardized test in mathematics and the English language for measuring aptitude to succeed academically in graduate business studies. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into graduate business administration...

 (GMAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Subject Tests) scores may be required by some institutions or programs. In addition, good letters of recommendation
Recommendation letter
A letter of recommendation is a letter in which the writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. Recommendation letters are almost always specifically requested to be...

 from undergraduate instructors are often essential, as strong recommendation letters from mentors or supervisors of undergraduate research experience provide evidence that the applicant can perform research and can handle the rigors of a graduate school education.

Within the sciences and some social sciences, previous research experience may be important; within most humanities disciplines, an example of academic writing normally suffices. Many universities require a personal statement (sometimes called Statement of purpose
Statement of purpose
A statement of purpose, or personal statement, is a brief and focused essay about one's career or research goals, and is frequently required for applicants to universities, graduate schools, and professional schools. It is a required document when applying for admission to most professional...

 or Letter of Intent
Letter of intent
A letter of intent is a document outlining an agreement between two or more parties before the agreement is finalized. The concept is similar to a heads of agreement...

), which may include indications of the intended area(s) of research; how detailed this statement is or whether it is possible to change one's focus of research depends strongly on the discipline and department to which the student is applying.

In some disciplines or universities, graduate applicants may find it best to have at least one recommendation from research work outside of the college where they earned their Bachelor's degree; however, as with previous research experience, this may not be very important in most humanities disciplines.

Some schools set minimum GPAs and test scores below which they will not accept any applicants; this reduces the time spent reviewing applications. On the other hand, many other institutions often explicitly state that they do not use any sort of cut-offs in terms of GPA or the GRE scores. Instead, they claim to consider many factors, including past research achievements, the compatibility between the applicant's research interest and that of the faculty, the statement of purpose and the letters of reference, as stated above. Some programs also require professors to act as sponsors. Finally, applicants from non-English speaking countries often must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL
TOEFL
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL , evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting....

).

At most institutions, decisions regarding admission are not made by the institution itself but the department to which the student is applying. Some departments may require interviews before making a decision to accept an applicant. Most universities adhere to the Council of Graduate Schools' Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants, which gives applicants until April 15 to accept or reject offers that contain financial support.

Non-degree seeking


In addition to traditional "degree seeking" applications for admission, many schools allow students to apply as "non-degree seeking". Admission to the Non Degree category is usually restricted primarily to those who may benefit professionally from additional study at the graduate level. For example, current primary, middle grades and secondary education teachers wishing to gain recertification most commonly apply as Non-Degree Seeking students.

Requirements for completion


Graduate students often declare their intended degree (master's or doctorate) in their applications. In some cases, master's programs allow successful students to continue toward the doctorate degree. Additionally, doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy but not filed a dissertation ("ABD," for "all but dissertation") often receive master's degrees and an additional master's called a Master of Philosophy
Master of Philosophy
The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research degree.An M.Phil. is a lesser degree than a Doctor of Philosophy , but in many cases it is considered to be a more senior degree than a taught Master's degree, as it is often a thesis-only degree. In some instances, an M.Phil...

 (MPhil), or a Candidate of Philosophy
Candidate of Philosophy
Candidate of Philosophy is any of the following academic degrees: a Bachelor's level, Master's level, higher than Master's level, or Doctorate level degree, depending on the country.- In the United States :...

 (C.Phil.) degree. The master's component of a doctorate program often requires one or two years.

Many graduate programs require students to pass one or several examinations in order to demonstrate their competence as scholars. In some departments, a comprehensive examination
Comprehensive examination
A comprehensive examination , often abbreviated as "comps," is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study...

 is often required in the first year of doctoral study, and is designed to test a student's background undergraduate-level knowledge. Examinations of this type are more common in the sciences and some social sciences, and relatively unknown in most humanities disciplines.

Most graduate students perform teaching duties, often serving as graders and tutors. In some departments, they can be promoted to Lecturer
Lecturer
Lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, lecturer is a position at a university or similar institution, often held by academics in their early career stages, who lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach...

 status, a position that comes with more responsibility.

Doctoral students generally spend roughly their first two to three years taking coursework, and begin research by their second year if not before. Many master's and all specialist students will perform research culminating in a paper, presentation, and defense of their research. This is called the master's thesis (or, for Educational Specialist students, the specialist paper). However, many US master's degree programs do not require a master's thesis, focusing instead primarily on course work or on "practicals" or "workshops". Such "real-world" experience may typically require a candidate work on a project alone or in a team as a consultant, or consultants, for an outside entity approved or selected by the academic institution, and under faculty supervision.

In the second and third years of study, doctoral programs often require students to pass more examinations. Programs often require a Qualifying Examination
Prelims
The use of the term Prelim varies and is synonymous with qualifying exam, but it generally refers to an examination that qualifies a student to continue studies at a higher level...

 ("Quals"), a PhD Candidacy Examination ("Candidacy"), or a General Examination ("Generals"), designed to ensure students have a grasp of a broad sample of their discipline, and/or one or several Special Field Examinations ("Specials"), which test students in their narrower selected areas of specialty within the discipline. If these examinations are held orally, they may be known colloquially as "orals". For some social science and many humanities disciplines, where graduate students may or may not have studied the discipline at the undergraduate level, these exams will be the first set, and be based either on graduate coursework or specific preparatory reading (sometimes up to a year's work in reading).

In all cases, comprehensive exams are normally both stressful and time consuming, and must be passed to be allowed to proceed on to the thesis. Passing such examinations allows the student to stay, begin doctoral research, and rise to the status of a doctoral candidate, while failing usually results in the student leaving the program or re-taking the test after some time has passed (usually a semester or a year). Some schools have an intermediate category, passing at the master's level, which allows the student to leave with a master's without having completed a master's thesis.

For the next several years the doctoral candidate primarily performs his or her research. Usually this lasts three to eight years, though a few finish more quickly and some take substantially longer. In total, the typical doctoral degree takes between four and eight years from entering the program to completion, though this time varies depending upon the department, thesis topic, and many other factors. For example, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 degrees take five to six years on average, but observational astronomy
Observational astronomy
Observational astronomy is a division of the astronomical science that is concerned with getting data, in contrast with theoretical astrophysics which is mainly concerned with finding out the measurable implications of physical models...

 degrees take six to seven due to limiting factors of weather, while theoretical astronomy
Theoretical astronomy
Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and matter outside the Earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties" In some cases, as in the introduction of the introductory textbook The Physical Universe by Frank Shu, "astronomy" may be used...

 degrees take five.

Though there is substantial variation among universities, departments, and individuals, humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

 and social science doctorates on average take somewhat longer to complete than natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

 doctorates. These differences are due to the differing nature of research between the humanities and some social sciences and the natural sciences, and to the differing expectations of the discipline in coursework, languages and length of thesis. However, time required to complete a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 also varies according to the candidate's abilities and choice of research. Some students may also choose to remain in a program if they fail to win an academic position, particularly in disciplines with a tight job market; by remaining a student, they can retain access to libraries and university facilities, while also retaining an academic affiliation, which can be essential for conferences and job-searches.

Traditionally, doctoral programs were only intended to last three to four years and, in some disciplines (primarily the natural sciences), with a helpful advisor and a light teaching load, it is possible for the degree to be completed in that amount of time. However, increasingly many disciplines, including most humanities, set their requirements for coursework, languages and the expected extent of thesis research by the assumption that students will take five years minimum or six to seven years on average; competition for jobs within these fields also raises expectations on the length and quality of theses considerably.

Competition for jobs within certain fields, such as the life sciences, is so great that almost all students now enter a second training period after graduate school called a postdoctoral fellowship. In total most life scientists will invest 12–14 years in low paid training positions and only 14% will obtain tenure track jobs (Miller McClune, the real science gap). The average age at which life scientists obtain their first R01 grant to conduct independent research is now 42.

In some disciplines, doctoral programs can average seven to ten years. Archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, which requires long periods of research, tends towards the longer end of this spectrum. The increase in length of degree is a matter of great concern for both students and universities, though there is much disagreement on potential solutions to this problem.

Funding


Many departments, especially those in which students have research or teaching responsibilities, offer tuition-forgiveness and a stipend that pays for most expenses. At some elite universities, there may be a minimum stipend established for all Ph.D. students, as well as a tuition waiver. The terms of these stipends vary greatly, and may consist of a scholarship or fellowship, followed by teaching responsibilities. At many elite universities, these stipends have been increasing, in response both to student pressure and especially to competition among the elite universities for graduate students.

In some fields, research positions are more coveted than teaching positions because student researchers are typically paid to work on the dissertation they are required to complete anyway, while teaching is generally considered a distraction from one's work. Research positions are more typical of science disciplines; they are relatively uncommon in humanities disciplines, and where they exist, rarely allow the student to work on their own research. Science PhD students can apply for individual NRSA
National Research Service Award
The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards are a family of grants provided by the United States National Institutes of Health for training researchers in the behavioral sciences and health sciences. They are a highly selective and very prestigious source of funding for doctoral and...

 fellowships from the NIH or fellowships from private foundations. US universities often also offer competitive support from NIH-funded training programs. One example is the Biotechnology Training Program – University of Virginia.

Departments often have funds for limited discretionary funding to supplement minor expenses such as research trips and travel to conferences.

A few students can attain funding through dissertation improvement grants funded by the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 (NSF), or through similar programs in other agencies. Many students are also funded as lab researchers by faculty who have been funded by private foundations or by the NSF, National Institutes of Health (NIH), or federal "mission agencies" such as the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 or the Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

. The natural sciences are typically well funded, so that most students can attain either outside or institutional funding, but in the humanities, not all do. Some humanities students borrow money during their coursework, then take full-time jobs while completing their dissertations. Students in the social sciences are less well funded than are students in the natural and physical sciences, but often have more funding opportunities than students in the humanities, particularly as science funders begin to see the value of social science research.

Funding differs greatly by departments and universities; some universities give five years of full funding to all Ph.D. students, though often with a teaching requirement attached; other universities do not. However, because of the teaching requirements, which can be in the research years of the Ph.D., even the best funded universities often do not have funding for humanities or social science students who need to do research elsewhere, whether in the United States or overseas. Such students may find funding through outside funders such as private foundations, such as the German Marshall Fund
German Marshall Fund
The German Marshall Fund of the United States is a nonpartisan American public policy and grantmaking institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between North America and Europe....

 or the Social Science Research Council
Social Science Research Council
The Social Science Research Council is a U.S.-based independent nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research in the social sciences and related disciplines...

 (SSRC).

Foreign students are typically funded the same way as domestic (US) students, although Federally-subsidized student and parent loans and work-study assistance are generally limited to U.S. citizens and nationals, permanent residents, and approved refugees. Moreover, some funding sources (such as many NSF fellowships) may only be awarded to domestic students. International students often have unique financial diffulties such as high costs to visit their families back home, support of a family not allowed to work due to immigration law
Immigration law
Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.Immigraton law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship...

s, tuition that is expensive by world standards, and large fees: visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 fees by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 fees (such as Student and Exchange Visitor Information Systems, or SEVIS
Sévis
Sévis is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A farming village situated in the Pays de Bray, some south of Dieppe, at the junction of the D48 and D15 roads.-Population:...

) by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and the United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

.

Graduate employee unions


At many universities, graduate students are employed by their university to teach classes or do research. While all graduate employees are graduate students, many graduate students are not employees. MBA students, for example, usually pay tuition and do not have paid teaching or research positions. In many countries graduate employees have collectively organized labor unions in order to bargain a contract with their university. In Canada, for example, almost all graduate employees are members of a CUPE
Canadian Union of Public Employees
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is a Canadian trade union serving the public sector - although it has in recent years organized workplaces in the non-profit and para-public sector as well...

 local.

In the United States there are many graduate employee unions at public universities, the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions
Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions
The Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions consists of unions representing graduate employees at universities in Canada and the United States...

 lists 25 recognized unions at public universities on its website. Private universities, however, are covered under the National Labor Relations Act
National Labor Relations Act
The National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act , is a 1935 United States federal law that limits the means with which employers may react to workers in the private sector who create labor unions , engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in...

 rather than state labor laws and until 2001 there were no recognized unions at private universities.

Many graduate students see themselves as akin to junior faculty, but with significantly lower pay. Many graduate students feel that teaching takes time that would better be spent on research, and many point out that there is a vicious circle in the academic labor economy. Institutions that rely on cheap graduate student labor have no need to create expensive professorships, so graduate students who have taught extensively in graduate school can find it immensely difficult to get a teaching job when they have obtained their degree. Many institutions depend heavily on graduate student teaching: a 2003 report by agitators for a graduate student union at Yale, for instance, claims that "70% of undergraduate teaching contact hours at Yale are performed by transient teachers: graduate teachers, adjunct instructors, and other teachers not on the tenure track." The state of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 leads in terms of progressive policy regarding graduate student unions with five universities recognizing graduate employee unions: Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University is a public research university located in Mount Pleasant in the U.S. state of Michigan...

, Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

, the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

, Wayne State University
Wayne State University
Wayne State University is a public research university located in Detroit, Michigan, United States, in the city's Midtown Cultural Center Historic District. Founded in 1868, WSU consists of 13 schools and colleges offering more than 400 major subject areas to over 32,000 graduate and...

, and Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University is a public university located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States. The university was established in 1903 by Dwight B. Waldo, and as of the Fall 2010 semester, its enrollment is 25,045....

.

The United Auto Workers
United Auto Workers
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers , is a labor union which represents workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial...

 (under the slogan "Uniting Academic Workers") and the American Federation of Teachers
American Federation of Teachers
The American Federation of Teachers is an American labor union founded in 1916 that represents teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; local, state and federal employees; higher education faculty and staff, and nurses and other healthcare professionals...

 are two international unions that represent graduate employees. Private universities' administrations often oppose their graduate students when they try to form unions, arguing that students should be exempt from labor laws intended for "employees". In some cases unionization movements have met with enough student opposition to fail. At the schools where graduate employees are unionized, which positions are unionized vary. Sometimes only one set of employees will unionize (e.g. teaching assistants, residential directors); at other times, most or all will. Typically, fellowship recipients, usually not employed by their university, do not participate.

When negotiations fail, graduate employee unions sometimes go on strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

. While graduate student unions can use the same types of strikes that other unions do, they have also made use of teach-in
Teach-in
A teach-in is similar to a general educational forum on any complicated issue, usually an issue involving current political affairs. The main difference between a teach-in and a seminar is the refusal to limit the discussion to a specific frame of time or an academic scope of the topic. Teach-ins...

s, work-ins, marches, rallies, and grade strikes. In a grade strike, graduate students refuse to grade exams and papers and, if the strike lasts until the end of the academic term, also refuse to turn in final grades. Another form of job action is known as "work-to-rule", in which graduate student instructors work exactly as many hours as they are paid for and no more.

Canada


In Canada, the Schools and Faculties of Graduate Studies are represented by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS) or Association canadienne pour les études supérieures (ACES). The Association brings together 58 Canadian universities with graduate programs, two national graduate student associations, and the three federal research-granting agencies and organizations having an interest in graduate studies. Its mandate is to promote, advance, and foster excellence in graduate education and university research in Canada. In addition to an annual conference, the association prepares briefs on issues related to graduate studies including supervision, funding, and professional development.

Admission


Admission to a master's program generally requires a bachelor's degree in a related field, with sufficiently high grade
Academic grading in Canada
Academic grading in Canada varies by province, level of education , institution , and faculty...

s usually ranging from B+ and higher (note that different schools have different letter grade conventions, and this requirement may be significantly higher in some faculties), and recommendations from professors. Some schools require samples of the student's writing as well as a research proposal
Research proposal
A research proposal is a document written by a researcher that describes in details the program for a proposed. It is like an outline of the entire research process that gives a reader a summary of the information discussed in a project....

. At English-speaking universities, applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL
TOEFL
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL , evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting....

).

Admission to a doctoral program typically requires a master's degree in a related field, sufficiently high grades, recommendations, samples of writing, a research proposal, and typically an interview with a prospective supervisor. Requirements are often set higher than those for a master's program. In exceptional cases, a student holding an honours BA with sufficiently high grades and proven writing and research abilities may be admitted directly to a Ph.D. program without the requirement to first complete a master's. Many Canadian graduate programs allow students who start in a master's to "reclassify" into a Ph.D. program after satisfactory performance in the first year, bypassing the master's degree.

Graduate students must usually declare their research goal or submit a research proposal upon entering grad school; in the case of master's degrees, there will be some flexibility (that is, one is not held to one's research proposal, although major changes, for example from premodern to modern history, are discouraged). In the case of Ph.D.s, the research direction is usually known as it will typically follow the direction of the master's research.

Master's degrees can be completed in one year but normally take at least two; they typically may not exceed five years. Doctoral degrees require a minimum of two years but frequently take much longer, not usually exceeding six years.

Funding


Graduate students may take out student loans
Student loans in Canada
Student loans in Canada help post-secondary students pay for their education in Canada. The federal government funds the Canada Student Loan Program and the provinces may fund their own programs or run in parallel with the CSLP...

, but instead they often work as teaching
Teaching assistant
A teaching assistant is an individual who assists a professor or teacher with instructional responsibilities. TAs include graduate teaching assistants , who are graduate students; undergraduate teaching assistants , who are undergraduate students; secondary school TAs, who are either high school...

 or research assistant
Research assistant
A research assistant is a researcher employed, often on a temporary contract, by a university or a research institute, for the purpose of assisting in academic research...

s. Students often agree, as a condition of acceptance to a programme, not to devote more than twelve hours per week to work or outside interests. Various universities in Canada have different policies in terms of how much funding is available. This funding may also be different within a university in each of the disciplines

For Masters students, funding is generally available to first-year students whose transcripts
Transcript (education)
In education, a transcript is an inventory of the courses taken and grades earned of a student throughout a course.- United States :In United States education, a transcript is a copy of a student's permanent academic record which usually means all courses taken, all grades received, all...

 reflect exceptionally high grades; this funding can also be obtained in the second year of studies. Funding for Ph.D. students comes from a variety of sources, and many universities waive tuition fees for doctoral candidates (This may also occur for masters students of some universities). Funding is available in the form of scholarship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

s, bursaries
Bursary
A bursary is strictly an office for a bursar and his or her staff in a school or college.In modern English usage, the term has become synonymous with "bursary award", a monetary award made by an institution to an individual or a group to assist the development of their education.According to The...

 and other awards, both private and public.

Requirements for completion


Both master's and doctoral programs may be done by coursework
Coursework
Coursework is the name for work carried out by students at university or middle/high school that contributes towards their overall grade, but which is assessed separately from their final exams. Coursework can, for example, take the form of experimental work, or may involve research in the...

 or research or a combination of the two, depending on the subject and faculty. Most faculties require both, with the emphasis on research, and with coursework being directly related to the field of research.

Master's candidates undertaking research are typically required to complete a thesis
Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

 comprising some original research and ranging from seventy to two-hundred pages. Some fields may require candidates to study at least one foreign language if they have not already earned sufficient foreign-language credits. Some faculties require candidates to defend their thesis, but many do not. Those that do not often have a requirement of taking two additional courses, minimum, in lieu of preparing a thesis.

Ph.D. candidates undertaking research must typically complete a thesis, or dissertation, consisting of original research representing a significant contribution to their field, and ranging from two-hundred to five-hundred pages. Most Ph.D. candidates will be required to sit comprehensive examination
Comprehensive examination
A comprehensive examination , often abbreviated as "comps," is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study...

s—examinations testing general knowledge in their field of specialization—in their second or third year as a prerequisite to continuing their studies, and must defend their thesis as a final requirement. Some faculties require candidates to earn sufficient credits in a third or fourth foreign language; for example, most candidates in modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, and Mandarin
Standard Mandarin
Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

, while candidates in pre-modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English, Japanese, Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

, and Classical Japanese language
Classical Japanese language
The is the literary form of the Japanese language that was the standard until the early Shōwa period . It is based on Early Middle Japanese, the language as spoken during the Heian era , but exhibits some later influences. Its use started to decline during the late Meiji period when novelists...

.

At English-speaking Canadian universities, both master's and Ph.D. theses may be presented in English or in the language of the subject (German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 for German literature
German literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German part of Switzerland, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there...

, for example), but if this is the case, an extensive abstract must be also presented in English. In exceptional circumstances, a thesis may be presented in French.

French-speaking universities have varying sets of rules; some will accept students with little knowledge of French if they can communicate with their supervisors (usually in English).

United Kingdom



The term "graduate school" is used more widely by North American universities than by those in the UK. However, numerous universities in the UK have formally launched graduate schools, including the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College . Birmingham was the first Redbrick university to gain a charter and thus...

, Durham University
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

, Keele University
Keele University
Keele University is a campus university near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, England. Founded in 1949 as an experimental college dedicated to a broad curriculum and interdisciplinary study, Keele is most notable for pioneering the dual honours degree in Britain...

, the University of Nottingham
University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham is a public research university based in Nottingham, United Kingdom, with further campuses in Ningbo, China and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia...

, Bournemouth University
Bournemouth University
Bournemouth University is a university in and around the large south coast town of Bournemouth, UK...

 and the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, which includes graduate schools at King's College London
King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...

, Royal Holloway and University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

. They often coordinate the supervision and training of candidates for doctorates.

Brazil



Graduate degrees in Brazil are called "postgraduate" degrees, and can be taken only after a 4-6 year long "bachelors degree".
  • Lato sensu graduate degrees: degrees that represent a specialization in a certain area, and take from 1 to 2 years until completion. A lato sensu degree does not allow the further pursue of a doctoral degree. MBA programs in Brazil are classified as lato sensu programs.

  • Stricto sensu graduate degrees: degrees for those who wish to pursue an academic career.
    • Masters: 2 years for completion. Usually serves as additional qualification for those seeking a differential on the job market (and maybe later a PhD), or for those who want to pursue a PhD
    • Doctors / PhD: 3–4 years for completion. Usually used as a stepstone for an academic life

Germany


The establishment of Graduiertenkollegs in Germany started in the early 1990s funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft is an important German research funding organization and the largest such organization in Europe.-Function:...

 (DFG), the German Research Foundation. Unlike the American model of graduate schools, a Graduiertenkolleg consists only of a PhD programme. In contrast with the traditional German apprentice model of pursuing a PhD, a Graduiertenkolleg aims to provide young researchers with a structured doctoral training within an excellent research environment. A Graduiertenkolleg typically consists of 20-30 doctoral students, about half of whom are supported by stipends from the DFG or another sponsor. The research programme is usually narrowly defined around a specific topic and has an interdisciplinary aspect. The programme is set up for a specific period of time (up to nine years if funded by the DFG). The official English translation of the term Graduiertenkolleg is Research Training Group.

In 2006, a different type of graduate school, termed Graduiertenschule, was established by the DFG as part of the German Universities Excellence Initiative
German Universities Excellence Initiative
The Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Research Foundation aims to promote cutting-edge research and to create outstanding conditions for young scientists at universities, to deepen cooperation between disciplines and institutions, to...

. They are thematically much broader than the focused Graduiertenkollegs and consist often of 100-200 doctoral students.

See also


  • EURODOC
    Eurodoc
    Eurodoc is the European federation of national organisations of young researchers. Young researchers are the ones currently undertaking their doctorate or PhD holders in their first years of their post-doctoral research career .As a non-profit organisation,...

     (European Council of Doctoral Candidates and junior researchers)
  • List of fields of doctoral studies
  • List of postgraduate-only institutions
  • Piled Higher and Deeper
    Piled Higher and Deeper
    Piled Higher and Deeper - Life in Academia , is a newspaper and web comic strip written and drawn by Jorge Cham that follows the lives of several grad students...

    (widely read graduate school oriented comic strip)
  • Professional association
  • Professional certification
    Professional certification
    Professional certification, trade certification, or professional designation, often called simply certification or qualification, is a designation earned by a person to assure qualification to perform a job or task...


External links

  • Growth of the PhD - Discusses innovations in doctoral training.
  • How I Got Into the Stanford Psychology Ph.D. Program - One student's experiences when applying to graduate programs in psychology. Includes helpful explanations and tips for all stages of the application process.
  • Guide to applying to PhD - Covers selecting the right CS program, taking tests, recommendations, and statement of purpose from a professor who has been on the admissions committee for Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Berkeley.
  • Free Advice On Applying To Graduate School (PDF) - Written by a professor of psychology at Portland State University
    Portland State University
    Portland State University is a public state urban university located in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Founded in 1946, it has the largest overall enrollment of any university in the state of Oregon, including undergraduate and graduate students. It is also the only public university in...

    .