What is Graduate program: Definition and 50 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.

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  1. tetrahed

    Other Do I need a physics degree to get into a physics graduate program?

    I know this might be a stupid question, but I am serious. Some of my friends are in graduate programs not much related to their major (a number of my friends majored in math but are in computer science grad programs, and vice versa), so I am curious whether the same holds for physics. In my...
  2. V

    Programs Thoughts on Caltechs Applied Physics Graduate Program

    Why is it paired with materials science? I have not been able to find too much about it online apart from their own stuff. How different is it from their pure physics PhD program? It seems that they have a lot of required courses, although you do not need to take them if you have a sufficiently...
  3. S

    Programs Meteorologists/atmospheric scientists - structure of the study

    I'm not sure if this is the correct thread, so please accept my apologies if I've posted in the wrong section. My question is for meteorologists and atmospheric scientists who did their undergraduate degree in different, but related fields, such as physics, chemistry, Earth science, etc. and...
  4. I

    Programs Which Graduate Program in Theoretical Physics is Right for Me?

    Hello. I'm currently studying theoretical physics and planning to continue my study in theoretical physics. I know that there are two interesting places to pursue the education in this field, the International Center for Theoretical Physics (pre-PhD program), and the Perimeter Institute for...
  5. M

    Programs UC London Astrophysics MSc vs Leiden Astronomy MSc (+ PhD)

    I need some advice with a tough choice between two great programs. On the one hand, I have University College London, a 1 year program in Astrophysics which covers 6 courses and an original research project. On the other hand, I have Leiden University, a 2 year program in Astronomy with ~12...
  6. yeshuamo

    Admissions What is an informal interview? (for a graduate program in the U.K.)

    I have received an invitation to interview for a graduate program in the U.K. The email came from a professor who previously expressed interest in working with me and helped me write a fellowship application. Now, my question is: what makes a graduate interview in physics "informal"? Mind you...
  7. TJGilb

    Graduate Programs Advice (Particularly for Plasma Physics)

    Greetings everybody, Right now I'm applying to graduate physics programs, but since it's an expensive process I'm trying to be at least a little selective in my approach. Since my research interests are in plasma physics, I've limited myself to schools with a program in such. So far I've...
  8. 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...
  9. D

    Other Considering a Physics Graduate Program: Pros & Cons

    So I just finished up a masters in math (my undergrad was in physics) and I was considering applying for physics graduate school next year. However, I recently got accepted to a physics masters program. My question is whether I should accept the offer, or apply for a doctorate program next year...
  10. B

    Programs Programs and Courses about the Missile Defense

    Hello! I am interested in learning about the art of missile defense; I am particularly interested in the mathematical applications to calculate the missiles' orbits and how to countermeasure them once they are fired from the modes. I am confused where can I start searching for relevant...
  11. K

    Programs Graduate Program in QM: Researching Foundations of Quantum Mechanics

    What are strong graduate programs for researching foundations of quantum mechanics?
  12. I

    Schools Which Universities Offer Funded Physics Masters Programs?

    I was wondering if you guys know of any funded masters programs in physics - tuition waiver + stipend; or only stipend enough to cover tuition and modest living expenses. I am not too particular about the country but I am looking for programs where the norm is that the department funds all their...
  13. J0ules

    Schools How Can I Change How Universities Perceive My Application?

    I made Dean's List my senior year of undergrad, I double majored and double minored, I volunteered often and I communicate in both the social and scientific realms well. So why am I still getting turned down or "wait listed" from graduate programs? One theory; three semester near the middle of...
  14. santhoshetty

    Can I get into a good Nuclear Fusion graduate program?

    I finished my bachelors in electronics and communication in 2014 from India. Since then I have worked as an Application Engineer in the VLSI domain at a reputed company. I would like to transition to Nuclear Fusion Physics. I am planning to give my Physics GRE in October 2015. Some background...
  15. K

    Bachelor's in Civil Engineering with a Master's in....?

    Hello, I am new to this community and appreciate greatly any insight or guidance you may have. I am currently in my fifth and final year pursuing my bachelor's in civil engineering with no emphasis. I've worked full-time and part-time for the past year for a larger local firm, and will...
  16. J

    Oxford's DPhil in the CMT group or MIT's graduate program

    Hi all. I have never posted anything in PhysicsForums, but I am a long time follower. I was lucky enough to get admitted to both the MIT's graduate program in Physics and to the DPhil in Theoretical Physics at Oxford in the condensed matter theory group. I am unsure which programme to choose...
  17. S

    Stanford (or any Ivy League) Graduate Program

    Hi, I have a few years left on my undergraduate degree but I wanted to see if anyone has experience applying to Stanford for graduate school. I started UCSD as a liberal arts major and then switched to physics about 10 months ago. I have about 130 community college units (you only need 80, I...
  18. SilentThunder

    Undergraduate Program or Graduate Program?

    I'm looking for advice on obtaining a degree in physics. I'm older, 52, and have a BSE in Computer Science and Engineering and a MS in Computer Science. While I have a history of being both an undergraduate and a graduate student that was 30 years ago and in areas with little connection to...
  19. M

    Graduate program while employed by National Lab

    I will be graduating with a BA in physics and BS in Electrical Engineering in May. I want an optics PhD. I attended an info session on Sandia National Labs at my university, and the recruiters made me think about a PhD program through a national lab. If someone has experience with the National...
  20. C

    Mathematical Physics as a graduate program

    Hi guys, I was wondering whether atypical preparation is needed for admission to a mathematical physics program? i.e. Do you need to take Real Analysis, Topology, and other "rigorous" mathematics even if you are only a physics undergrad, or will such mathematics be taught from the ground up...
  21. G

    Advice and what to consider when choosing a graduate program

    Hi everybody, Like many people at the moment, I'm in the position of having to choose where I'm going to go to graduate school for a PhD. I'm contemplating two different schools. The first school is my undergrad institution, where I would work with a well known and influential advisor that...
  22. H

    CAMPEP accredited graduate program and x-ray phase-imaging research

    Hi, Last week I finished M.Sc. degree in Medical Physics. Now I'm pondering what to do next. I have a few questions mainly for Medical Physicsists or Medical Physics Residents: 1. Recently I got very interested in reasearch in the area of the X-ray phase-contrast imaging (PCI). As far as I...
  23. alexmahone

    MHB Is it a good idea to turn down a top graduate program?

    I'm an undergraduate studying math and will be applying to grad school in the future. The top graduate programs are MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Berkeley and Chicago. However, I doubt I would be near the top of the class at these places (if I got admitted, that is). This could have a...
  24. C

    Mathematics Necessary for Physics Graduate Program

    So I was wondering what mathematics I will need under my belt before starting at a brand name graduate school(MIT, UChicago, UC Berkely, CalTech, Harcard, etc...) if I were going to specialize in particle or soft-matter physics. Thank you!
  25. R

    Fluid Mechanics Graduate Program

    I'll be starting a graduate program in a computational science department in September. My research will be in the field of Fluid Mechanics. However, I don't come from an engineering background. My undergraduate degree is in Applied Mathematics where I studied ODEs, PDEs, Calculus, Algebra...
  26. C

    Schools Postdocs in a university without a physics graduate program?

    Suppose for a moment that you found just the one professor that you wanted to do a postdoc with. However, that professor works for a university that does not offer a physics graduate program. Can you still attempt to get a postdoc with that professor or you'd be better off finding another...
  27. F

    I really decision about dropping out of graduate program

    I recently started a terminal masters program in physics. Shortly after starting, I had a big anxiety issue that I never had in my life before. In my undergrad I worked 2 jobs, was in a fraternity, was in a physics program full time and had a social life. I managed to make it all work and life...
  28. T

    Exploring a Computational Mathematics Graduate Program

    I am going to graduate school for math and i think i am interested in computational mathematics (I say think because i don't fully know what computational math is). I have taken a numerical analysis class in my undergraduate program and i can program in a few different languages. I'm just...
  29. H

    Does anyone know some graduate program of NMR

    Hi, everyone. I am a junior student major in physics, and after an internship in a NMR lab this summer, I am really interested in this field, and I decided to learn it in my graduate program. Does anyone know any program of nmr, cos I find out that most of these programs are set up by medical...
  30. M

    Schools How much the previous university matters while applying to graduate program?

    Will I be in disadvantage while applying to american top universities (MIT, Harvard... you know...) if I had an undergraduate degree from an South African, Portuguese or Chinese university? please, answer about each case.
  31. M

    Can I get into a good mathematics graduate program?

    Hi, I just finished my second year of mathematics undergraduate program from a well known institution in India(Indian Statistical Institute).Next year I will be applying for mathematics graduate programs in US. My overall percentage is 90 which translates to 3.6 in GPA and my average in...
  32. T

    BS E-Physics to a graduate program in EE?

    Hello PF, I did a quick google and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so here it is: I am an undergrad graduating next year with a bachelors in Engineering Physics. So far my concentration has been in physics. I took one Intro to EE course which I liked, and I am taking a circuits...
  33. D

    Road to Nuclear Engineering Graduate Program

    Hello all, I'm currently a junior in the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Utah. I'd like to go into either the MS or PhD program in Nuclear Engineering there. There is no BS in Nuclear Engineering offered there, but there is an NE minor for undergraduates, which would allow...
  34. P

    Do i have a shot a graduate program in electrical engineering?

    Hi, i am currently studying Industrial engineering in Peru, i will graduate in 2 months. (i will get the equivalent of a BS in industrial engineer) All my life i have been into technology, computers, math, science, etc. Anyways i was wondering if i have a chance of getting into an electrical...
  35. M

    Getting into a top graduate program in Mathematics/Physics

    Hi, I'm an international student and I'm looking to apply to a few colleges in the USA. However, due to the random nature of the admissions process, I may or may not get in. Experience has taught me that I have to think of a rough course of action in case things don't go as I would like them...
  36. N

    Schools Graduate Program in Same University System Bad?

    I've heard that some employers/universities look down upon going to the same Undergrad as grad institution (unless the program is top ranked, or circumstances, etc) but what about going to a different university campus within the same university system? I would see nothing wrong with that...
  37. B

    Need advice on getting to a good EECS graduate program

    Hi pf, I am currently a fourth year student who has recently switched majors from biochemistry to EECS (so I'm going to get my bs sometime around 2013-2014). And since I'm pretty much back to square one, I am in need of some basic advice with regards to how to get into a top tier EECS program...
  38. Shackleford

    Comparing the Difficulty of Undergraduate and Graduate Economics Programs

    I am a math major, physics minor senior. Generally speaking, how does the difficulty of an economics master's program compare to my undergrad? Well, I put this in the Social Sciences forum because I thought the people who post in there would have a better idea. This forum really just seems to...
  39. B

    What Should You Do If a Graduate Program Isn't Responding to Your Emails?

    I am a senior deciding between graduate schools right now. I have heard back from all programs but one (I know this program has sent out both acceptances and rejections). I have sent this program two emails, one two weeks ago and another last week, but I have yet to hear a response. I was...
  40. B

    Another GPA, GRE and getting into a (physics) graduate program thread

    I made the mistake of actually graduating. I had a low GPA at the time but was planning to go overseas anyways and didn't realize just how much such a low GPA would affect me. I now have a BS in Physics with a GPA of 2.9 in a no-name state university. What are my options? My goal hasn't...
  41. P

    Should I apply to my undergrad institution's graduate program?

    I am almost done with applying to graduate schools in mathematics. My new question now is whether to apply my undergraduate institution's graduate program. First of all, all the professors that I have talked to told me that I should go somewhere else for graduate school. And I strongly agree...
  42. S

    What kind of graduate program can an industrial engineer choose?

    I will graduate with a BA in Industrial engineering from a university in Peru. I was wondering what doors does my bachelors degree open? I really like science and engineering. So far i can only think of MBA, something to do with OR, stochastic simulation or statics. If i had to choose...
  43. C

    Grad Student Seeking Geology Program Switch: Chances & Considerations

    Hello all... First, let me say that I am currently a graduate student in mathematics who would like to change graduate programs to something involving geology. I've always been fascinated with the internal Earth and how it behaves. To me, this seems like a big jump. My questions are the...
  44. E

    Admittance into BME graduate program

    Hello all, I am currently a Biosystems engineering senior at a Research 1 university and I am in the process of applying to graduate schools. I just wanted some advice on my chances of getting into a good Biomedical engineering program. My current GPA is sitting around a 3.1, and it will...
  45. D

    How much research is necessary to get into a good graduate program?

    I'm a biochemistry & molecular biology major... My university requires two semesters of research (one during the summer) to graduate with departmental honors. You also have to present your results/conclusions and have your presentation approved by faculty. Are these two semesters enough to...
  46. U

    Should You Apply to Organic Chemistry Graduate Programs with a Biology Degree?

    Hi, I'm planning to apply to graduate school this fall and have come to choice of whether to apply for biochemistry or (organic) chemistry programs. I would prefer to go straight into organic chemistry, but I have been told that it may be easier for me to apply to biochem/bio and then switch...
  47. A

    Expectations for a graduate program

    I'll be graduating next year with an EE degree, and I decided to take a shoot at a VTech MSc program deployed here in Egypt, by which I will be traveling to USA for one year to complete my courses, although based here in Egypt, I will be compared to undergraduates from all over the US, and...
  48. J

    Can I get into a molecular biology graduate program without a biology bachelors

    I'm doing my bachelors of science in chemistry, but I may want to do graduate work in molecular biology instead of chemistry. Would a BS in chemistry and maybe 15-20 hours of undergrad biology be good enough to qualify me for graduate programs in biology? I will have a biology minor when I...
  49. S

    What are the top graduate programs for mathematics?

    This doesn't really classify as a homework question, but this is the best place I could think of to post this. My apologies if I am in the wrong. I'm planning on continuing my math education all the way through the doctorate level. However, at the moment, I have only the barest of ideas as to...
  50. B

    Searching for a graduate program in optics

    Hello everyone, I'm entering my senior year of undergrad this fall so its about that time to find a grad school. My majors are physics (emphasizing in optics) and mathematics. I've done research for 2 years mainly in spectroscopy. I'm interested in finding a grad school for a PhD in Optics...