Grad school Definition and 126 Discussions

A graduate school (sometimes shortened to grad school) is a school that awards advanced academic degrees (e.g., master's and doctoral degrees) with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate (bachelor's) degree. A distinction is typically made between graduate schools (where courses of study vary in the degree to which they provide training for a particular profession) and professional schools, which offer specialized advanced degrees in professional fields such as medicine, nursing, business, engineering, speech–language pathology, or law. The distinction between graduate schools and professional schools is not absolute since various professional schools offer graduate degrees and vice versa.
Many universities award graduate degrees; a graduate school is not necessarily a separate institution. While the term "graduate school" is typical in the United States and often used elsewhere (e.g., Canada), "postgraduate education" is also used in English-speaking countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and the UK) to refer to the spectrum of education beyond a bachelor's degree. Those attending graduate schools are called "graduate students" (in both American and British English), or often in British English as "postgraduate students" and, colloquially, "postgraduates" and "postgrads". Degrees awarded to graduate students include master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and other postgraduate qualifications such as graduate certificates and professional degrees.
Producing original research is a significant component of graduate studies in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. This research typically leads to the writing and defense of a thesis or dissertation. In graduate programs that are oriented toward professional training (e.g., MPA, MBA, MHA), the degrees may consist solely of coursework, without an original research or thesis component. The term "graduate school" is primarily North American. Additionally, in North America, the term does not usually refer to medical school (whose students are called "medical students"), and only occasionally refers to law school or business school; these are often collectively termed professional schools. Graduate students in the humanities, sciences and social sciences often receive funding from the school (e.g., fellowships or scholarships) or a teaching assistant position or other job; in the profession-oriented grad programs, students are less likely to get funding, and the fees are typically much higher.
Although graduate school programs are distinct from undergraduate degree programs, graduate instruction (in the US, Australia, and other countries) is often offered by some of the same senior academic staff and departments who teach undergraduate courses. Unlike in undergraduate programs, however, it is less common for graduate students to take coursework outside their specific field of study at graduate or graduate entry 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 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.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. F

    Programs Computational neurosciences: what to expect contentwise?

    Hello, I was going back to university for Grad school (Master's degree) this fall in Electrical Engineering, but since my application and admission, the uni created a brand new program in computational neurosciences, and I am heavily considering to follow this path instead. Thrilling! However...
  2. D

    Admissions Will I Have to Lie in My Statement of Purpose?

    Let me begin by stating the obvious: I do not mean lying about anything that can be factually checked, like grades, honors, or experiences. I am currently a junior majoring in physics, and my immediate post-graduation plans are to attend graduate school in physics. On paper, I seem to be on...
  3. danbmurphy

    Physics Going back to grad school after having finished all classes

    I was in graduate school for an Applied Physics PhD program for 3 years, where I got my Master's and took all the required classes for the PhD. I left because I wanted to try my hand at teaching, and I LOVED it. Now I am 34 years old, and I am wondering if there is any possibility of going back...
  4. MRB29

    Programs Grad prospects of a current International Senior in HS

    Hello everyone, [I underline portions of the text that are most essential to my enquiry ( 2 questions at the bottom). I immensely appreciate the generous act of reading everything otherwise.] Background Info: North African, female-identifying, 16, below average ECs, no awards, no notable...
  5. R

    Programs How to pursue a physics grad program with a math degree?

    Hello, I hold a BS in mathematics and want to pursue a career in physics. Is there any way where I can directly join a physics grad program from my current background? What are the options available? And would it be better to pursue an MS in applied math and then switch to physics? Would a good...
  6. P

    Physics Grad School (and career) Work-Life Balance: Physics vs Other Fields

    Let’s start things off straight: I LOVE physics. I love the opportunity to understand the world more in depth and mathematically and have had good experiences with all my professors in all of my classes. I have loved the teaching experience I have had as a several-time TA, as well as the deeper...
  7. C

    Advice for 35+ year old wanting a Physics PhD

    Hello All! I wanted to reach out for perspectives and advice on this "old-timer" wanting to do physics. At one point I was on that track, but quickly stumbled and lost my way for personal reasons. Now, I'm 35 years old and want to finally pursue a lifelong goal of a PhD in physics. My age at...
  8. fissifizz

    Physics From Software Engineering to Astrophysics Grad School

    Greetings everyone. I am an undergrad currently majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Physics. I entered college as a physics student because I wanted to pursue astrophysics as a career. After my first 1.5 years of courses and a summer research experience, I concluded that a career in...
  9. J

    Admissions Grad School Decisions for the Mediocre

    Hello Forumgoers, I know there are probably a million 'what are my chances?' posts on here, so I apologize if I'm missing an obvious source, I'm new to the forum. I am applying to grad schools, and understand that I have no chance at top schools, but I was wondering if anyone could name safety...
  10. S

    Other Help finding GR and PER grad school programs?

    Hi Folks, I am finishing up my last year in undergrad (physics with a math minor) and am searching for potential grad schools. My areas of interest are pretty much exclusively in Gravitation (specially theoretical study of general relativity) and Physics Education Research, with a bit of...
  11. STasnim12357

    Schools How good is the Theoretical Physics MSc course at Queen Mary?

    Hello am currently an undergraduate student. My major is CSE. But I am very much interested to do my masters and then PhD in theoretical physics/mathematical physics. Is there any university that admits CS graduates for these courses? I have looked up some universities that offer these courses...
  12. P

    Admissions Grad schools acceptance with a low GPA

    Hello everyone, I currently have a 2.8 GPA after my sophomore year. I am working towards getting my BS in Physics with two minors, Computer Science and Mathematics. I know that my GPA is low to get into Grad school at this moment but I believe that I will be able to pull the GPA up to a 3.3 by...
  13. P

    Other Physics PhD Schools and Fellowships

    Hello! Fellowships: I'm going to be applying to grad schools by the end of this year and hope to start one beginning fall 2020. I've heard from people that having a fellowship prior to entering grad school not only is looked upon positively in your application, but also broadens the area in...
  14. Q

    Admissions Going BACK to graduate school after failing... How hard will it be?

    Hi everyone. In 2017, I received a bachelors degree in physics. I liked the subject and wanted to go to graduate school for something more practical, so I did. A year ago, I failed out of a PhD program in engineering. I was the worst student at that point. I was too shy to ask questions in...
  15. Ahmed Abdalla

    Job Skills I finally got my bachelor's degree in physics, now what?

    It's been 3 months so I'm sure this is still very early to "give up" on the job search, but I was wondering how other people did after their BS/BA in physics from college! The job search is for sure hard and I realized a little too late that I lacked some experience in CS. I wasn't planning on...
  16. J

    Schools Grad School? Is this an option anymore?

    Hi, so some background. I am an undergrad just now finishing my second year in my biophysics degree. I wanted to go into biomedical engineering, I understand that this is an insanely competitive field. My GPA is embarrassingly low. There are some reasons behind it, but everyone has their reasons...
  17. J

    Schools Confused about the importance of departmental rankings

    I’m at the point in my career where I’ve been accepted to a few grad schools and am currently deciding where to go. My top priority is advisor fit, since I plan to stay in my field. Talking to multiple professors/scientists at different institutions, it seems that my success in grad school is...
  18. Zack K

    Schools Wanting to go to a good graduate school in the US

    I'm currently almost done my first semester at University here in Canada. I want to go to a good graduate school in the US to study astrophysics in the future. Here in my University, and a lot of Universities in Canada have a 4.33 GPA scale. My GPA here is around a 3.3, that's roughly a B+ and a...
  19. mcabbage

    Admissions How much research is enough?

    Just looking for extra critique here: I'm a 2nd year math and physics student at a good uni in Canada. My average is in the 70s (B range, hoping to bring up to an 80/A- by the end of second year). The good thing is that Canadian unis will only look at my most recent 4 semesters or so (though I'd...
  20. N

    Schools Realistic Graduate School Opportunities in Computational Astrophysics

    Hi, I'm a junior at a Ivy League (H/Y/P/C - going to remain anonymous for privacy reasons) and I wanted your honest opinion on what my chances are for graduate school in computational astrophysics and where I should look for the best chances. GPA: 3.5/4 (working to raise this, had a bad...
  21. lonewolf219

    Other Grad student colleague question

    Hi, I am a grad student and share an office with 4 other grad students. I have a question about one of the students. We have been in the same office for 2 yrs. The student mostly sleeps while they are here. Every day this week, the student has slept from almost the moment they get in. I...
  22. E

    Programs Astrophysics after the Navy?

    Hello all, I am going to college this fall and I will be studying physics with a concentration on astrophysics, I am a pretty good student and afterwards I will serve 5 years in the Navy as an officer. My question is, will the 5 years I spend in the Navy hinder my chances of getting into top...
  23. D

    What are the most in-demand/employable physics subfields?

    I am trying to figure out which direction I should head towards in terms of employment/gradschool. I am aware jobs doing "actual physics" are few and far between, but as an undergrad, I am naively opportunistic. I have a few extra slots in my university course schedule, so I want to slide in...
  24. zachx

    Physics Physics PhD Second Thoughts

    Hi, I am a junior astrophysics undergraduate student and enjoy physics, but after researching astrophysics PhD's, I am having second thoughts about graduate school. My impression of physics graduate school right now is that you are paid what amounts to minimum wage to work 60 hours a week for...
  25. B

    Testing GRE Physics Prep Courses

    I consider myself premed, i.e. taking org chem,bio etc and only want to go to med school... but i'll be done with those prereqs at the end of this year, and i consider majoring in math. i.e. the last 2 years of undergrad i could do any major i want. and i wanted to know what courses are...
  26. M

    Schools Fall Grades and grad schools

    I am currently applying to grad school and have submitted all of my applications. None of my applications have my fall grades, just my schedule. I took 3 graduate courses (the only ones I've ever taken). I got an A in 2 of them, however I withdrew from the last one because I was too busy this...
  27. Newtons Blue Dog

    Schools How has you chosen grad school affected your career path?

    Hey guys, just after some advice on the perceived importance of finding a top notch college to attend post-graduate studies. They field I have a passion for is Astrophysics (yes crazy hard to get a job I know) and I was wondering if anyone has any advice on choosing graduate schools and how that...
  28. Q

    Physics Interested in grad school in Computational Physics, help?

    Undergrad with about a year and a half of school left here! The looming spectre of the real world has come with the realization that I do not know anywhere near enough of physics and math to satisfy me. I love math, I want more than anything to understand and do work that involves computers at...
  29. I

    Schools Realistic Chance at Grad School?

    Hello, I am an Aerospace Engineering major looking to get accepted to a Physics Ph.D. program. I aced the Physics GRE (990), but my GPA is 3.05 following an uphill trend - early semesters as low as 1.3 to recent 4.0 (top 10 Aero school if it matters). Research experience is limited - I've...
  30. M

    Testing Moving Physics GRE date

    I have been studying for the physics gre for a couple months now and can't seem to do better then getting 40/100; I have taken all but the 2008 physics gre test. I am taking a gap year so would it be a bad idea to move my test date to April instead of doing poorly in October and taking the test...
  31. S

    Are my GRE scores acceptable for PhD in Optics?

    Hello Everyone! I am Sharvari from India, interested in quantum and non linear optics and wish to pursue PhD in this domain. I am looking forward to active discussion on the grad school discussion forum as I will be applying for grad schools this year.
  32. S

    Admissions Am I competitive enough for medical physics acceptance?

    I am heading into my senior year at the University of Michigan studying nuclear engineering with a focus on health physics. I would like to go to grad school to pursue a master in medical physics at a CAMPEP accredited school. My GPA is a tad low, so Im afraid that I wont even have a shot at...
  33. L

    Astronomy/Astrophysics Gap Year/5th year of Undergrad

    Hello there, I am currently a senior undergraduate Astronomy and Astrophysics major at Villanova University. With the GRE and graduate school applications coming up I have been wondering if it would be beneficial for me to either take a gap year or to possibly take a 5th year of undergraduate...
  34. cmyers152

    Schools Graduate School resume/guidance please

    HI everyone, I am currently a senior at a big university who will be finishing up my BS in physics in either Fall of 2018 or Spring of 2019. I would like to go to graduate school after undergrad, but as of this moment there is no way I would get accepted to any school at all. To give you some...
  35. Tone L

    Programs Grants and fellowships, how do they work?

    Good day. I wish to purse an M.S degree in the science field (aerospace, satellite). Do you need to be in a graduate program to get NSF or NASA fellowships/grants? I would hate to go to school and one have to anticipate/pray to get a grant/fellowship. Are most TA positions are usually given to...
  36. sailorpluto

    Schools Bio/applied math undergrad wanting to do physics grad school

    Hey everyone, I'm new to this community, and I came here hoping to find some advice on applying to graduate schools. A bit of educational background about me: Biology BS & Applied Mathematics BS Double Major Neuroscience & Chemistry Minor (declared neuroscience officially, but earned the...
  37. A

    Schools Two C grades on transcript, options for grad school?

    Hi all, I'm an undergrad Physics and Mech. Engineering major (possible astrophysics as well). This past semester I've been dealing with some personal issues and I ended up with sub par grades as a result. I now officially have a C and a C+ on my transcript (along with a few B/B+). I'm a rising...
  38. Q

    Programs Research areas in physics department -- what is the field of complex systems physics about?

    I am a undergraduate student of engineering and I'm planning to go for Master's in physics department. I've watched some websites of research faculty or groups and I think (correct me if I'm wrong ;) there are main theoretical and experimental fields of these: - Elementary particles - Condensed...
  39. S

    Schools Will bad math grades hurt my chances at grad school given...

    So here's the deal: I have nearly all As in my physics courses (this includes As in the following graduate courses: mechanics, em w/ jackson, quantum 1, quantum 2, Biophysics, Stat Mech, and Adv Stat Mech. I go to an Ivy league school with a what most would consider to be a competitive undergrad...
  40. arnbobo

    Schools Will a B in Linear Algebra hurt my grad school chances?

    I had a pretty tough schedule this semester, so I'm getting my first B. I otherwise wouldn't be too sad, but I hear Linear is pretty important in upper-level physics and astronomy. So, will this hurt my chances of getting into grad school? I am (was? rising sophomore) only a first-year, and I do...
  41. R

    Schools Which grad schools would be a match for me?

    Well this is my first time posting here, but I was hoping this could be a helpful resource for me. I am trying to plan out which graduate schools to apply to in the fall and was wondering if anyone knew which graduate schools would be a good match for me and which ones would be too big of a...
  42. Angelo Niforatos

    Physics BS Heading to MS in Aerospace Tips

    Hi all, I am going to graduate school for Aerospace Engineering. I am a bit nervous because of the fact the my undergrad was in physics. I was wondering if anyone was in the same boat or a similar one that may have some good advice for me before I begin my next big chapter in my education!
  43. F

    Schools Importance of advisor vs. ranking for grad school?

    So some brief backstory about why I’m asking this question: I’m applying to grad schools next fall, and everything on my CV looks great (2 REUs, I know four professors I can get a great research letter from, I’m doing honors at a top 10 university for physics, etc.) except my gpa, which is...
  44. Tone L

    Schools Graduate schools with Planetary Sciences

    I was curious if anyone knew of any schools that offered graduate degrees in planetary sciences, specifically studying other planets atmospheres. May be it the study of the atmosphere itself or remote sensing techniques for planetary atmospheres. I know how to find schools that offer the...
  45. R

    Courses Want to switch to physics from engineering in undergrad

    So I'm currently in my second year doing biomedical engineering. I want to study physics in grad school, but am at an impasse. I can't do a physics minor because there is no space in my schedule, and I can only petition one physics course to fulfill my engineering electives. So I am debating...
  46. jamalkoiyess

    Admissions Can I get into a graduate physics program without a Bsc degr

    I am a physics sophomore. I have been told by some of the graduates that most of the courses can be self-studied through the books that are demanded. I want to know if a masters or Ph.D. program would accept me if I self-studied everything. It's going to save me a lot of money.
  47. P

    Schools Stony Brook for Undergrad?

    Hi everyone, I have a choice between Stony Brook and Cornell for my undergraduate education in physics and I am at a cross-roads. I want to show my father that I'm a grown man and willing to allow him and his wife to remain financially not-bankrupt so to speak (also not psyched about the student...
  48. A

    Admissions Rejected from everywhere. What next?

    I am in my final semester of my undergraduate career so like many others in my position I applied to a handful of graduate programs for the fall semester. I figured I had a really good chance at getting in due to the fact that I've got a 4.0, I scored in the top 10 percent on the PGRE, I have...
  49. R

    Schools Admittance into MIT Physics Grad School with an Undergraduate Engineering Degree

    Hello all, This is my first post here. I will be transferring to University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) in the fall with two associates degrees in Art and Science. I was accepted into the School of Mechanical Engineering. My original plan was to finish my undergrad, then go to grad...
  50. R

    When should I take the GRE?

    Hi guys. I'm relatively new to the Physics Forums, so forgive me if this question has been asked a bunch already. (I'm sure it has). I'm currently a junior in UCLA and majoring in Physics. I want to go to grad school (not sure which yet) so I'll obviously need to take both the general GRE and...
Top