I would like to pursue a graduate degree, and I am set to graduate in Fall 2012. I would love if someone could give me a little advice tailored towards my current situation and goals. Please and thank you! Here's my story... I'm a computer engineering student entering my fifth year at University Of Central Florida. I have become interested in going to graduate school because I really love to learn, teach, and innovate. I have a 3.8 GPA. My extra curriculars have been: A semester of research (unfortunately I never made enough headway to get published) A year of physics tutoring A year of working at lockheed martin as a software developer Robotics club, a small competition I'm beginning a job as a research assistant at a human-robot-interaction lab this summer. My senior design project is a robotic chess board. My electives are focused on AI robotics. I only have two classes left (AI and senior design II). I will graduate this December. I need to decide where I'm going to grad school and when I will be applying. The following are my goals Receive financial assistance throughout my grad education so I don't have to live off of loans. I live very simply on about $12k a year currently and I would like to maintain a similar lifestyle and remain debt free. Get a master's degree from a decent school. Have the freedom to pursue a Ph.D. after a master's. Possibly apply for a Ph.D. program straight away if I'm qualified Sometimes I feel that I'm not a good candidate for these schools because I went to UCF and I don't have published research. I'm not sure where I stand. What I am sure of is that I'm genuinely interested in academia and I am a very hard worker. If you could review that list of goals and help me come up with a decision, these are the questions I need to answer: Do I apply to UCF only or to other schools? Do I apply directly for a Ph.D. or for a master's? Do I apply for spring or fall? If I apply for Fall, what do I do until then? Graduate & work at a lab, Stay in school and take grad level UCF classes, or stay in school and double major in CS? Thank you very much for reading.