Page 1

Graduate Degree Guide



DEGREE Everything you need to know when making that big decision to go back to school

FUNDING YOUR MASTER’S EDUCATION Make Graduate School more affordable

THE ONLINE ADVANTAGE The convenience of online education

y’s t toda a k o a lo T


[ Editor’s Note]

valas D ean Tsou Dear Readers, It’s never too late to continue your education; whether you finished your undergraduate studies two, ten, twenty or more years ago, you can still turn your bachelor’s into a master’s. If you haven’t completed your undergrad courses, don’t fret – there are ways to plug those gaps in your education and get ready to pursue an advanced degree. Don’t let discouragement from being out of school prevent you from specializing in the field you’re most passionate about. As we get older and gain new experiences our interests can evolve. It’s not uncommon to hear about Master’s students who have decided to return to school to enroll in a program in a different field of study than their undergraduate degree. For some, going to graduate school can be the launch pad for a change in career. Choosing to continue your education with a Master’s degree can provide you with the foundation you need to successfully make the jump. Perusing a graduate degree can be a great way to accelerate your career, boost your earning power and broaden your world. Many Master’s graduates find the experience of attaining their advanced degree to be more rewarding than attaining their Bachelor’s. There’s good reason for that – Master’s students tend to have more peer-like relationships with their professors and have a chance to dive deeper into material that interests them. Figuring out whether or not if a Master’s program is right for you can be overwhelming. There are several questions you’ll have to answer before you can even start filling out applications. Part time or full time? On campus or online? What degree program makes the most sense with your career goals? What kind of Master’s graduates are employers looking to hire? That’s why we’ve created this guide; to give you a thumbnail sketch of the opportunities that await you. Ready to learn how a Master’s program can change your life? In addition to profiling some of the most in-demand Master’s degrees and what it takes to get them, we’ve assembled a host of real-world information to get you on the way to your graduate studies.

Good Luck!

Dean Tsouvalas Editor-In-Chief


Join the StudentAdvisor Online Community


Follow StudentAdvisor on Facebook and Twitter for the latest college reviews, rankings and advice from admissions experts, parents and alumni

[ Contents ]

20 | Funding Your Master’s Education Need help paying for Graduate School?

24 | Coping with Pressure

Learn how to put stress to bed with these practical coping methods.

16 | The Online Advantage

FEATURES 06 | Education Pays

14 | Choosing the Right School

08 | Five Burning Questions for a New Graduate Student

18 | Accredidation Matters

09 | Got Gaps?

22 | Learning to Write, Right Away

Employment windows open after earning a Graduate Degree.

The answers you’ll need when considering going back to school.

Prepare yourself for Graduate-level work by sharpening your skills and filling in the gaps.

10 | So it’s Been Awhile

You’ve spent some time off since college, but you’re not alone.

Online education is here to get you that degree at your convenience.

Find out what’s important to you and start heading in the right direction.

Would you know if the school you chose is legitimately accredited?

The best practices for improving your writing skills.

26 | 10 Tips for Succeeding in Graduate School and Beyond

Experienced insight on how to succeed in business school and in your profession.

12 | A Look at Today’s Hottest Fields

Get on the fast track to employment.

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Things to Consider ]


enerally, the more education you have, the better your career opportunities will be. However, what your education consists of will vary depending on your occupation. Entry-level work in certain fields may require a master’s degree, or a master’s may be a necessary first step toward additional qualifications or professional licensure.

[6] | Graduate Degree Guide

For example, social workers enter the field with a bachelor’s in social work (BSW). The BSW qualifies them for entry-level, non-clinical work, but most supervisory roles require a master’s in social work, and most teaching jobs require a doctorate. In the business world, the need for an advanced degree is driven by a number of factors. Let’s take a quick look at accounting. Any accountant who files reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission must be a Certified Public Accountant; getting a CPA requires either an advanced degree in accounting or 150 hours of completed undergraduate coursework in accounting and at least one to two years of work experience. Depending on the size and type of company, accountants may advance through the ranks of a company on the strength of their work experience, or they may need their Master’s of Accountancy (MAcc) or Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) to apply for work.

[ Things to Consider ]

Unemployment in 2009

Median weekly earnings in 2009


Doctoral degree



Professional degree



Master’s degree



Bachelor’s degree



Associate degree


8.6 Some college, no degree $699 9.7

High school graduate



Less than a high school diploma

$454 $774 Average, all workers

7.9 Average, all workers Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

This graph outlines the unemployement rate with the median weekly earnings based on education level in 2009

The process of getting your master’s will depend on what and how you are studying. You can choose to attend classes at a physical campus, to take some classes online, or even to obtain your degree through a 100% online program. You should be ready for a lot of writing, analytical thinking, and be passionate about what you’re learning.

Graduate school is intense. You’ll be stretching yourself academically, and often finding yourself pressed for time. Graduate studies require a lot of self-directed work, and can be difficult – that’s where the passion comes in. Enjoyment can be a big help in getting through hard work. There are several questions you should ask before deciding to pursue graduate work, including:

“In the business world, the need for an advanced degree is driven by a number of factors.”

Do I need an advanced degree to advance in my field? How much can I expect to earn with my master’s degree? How long will it take to earn an advanced degree? Once I have my master’s, will there be work in my field? Am I prepared to commit myself to work and school? Be honest with yourself, and don’t let the prospect of hard work get in the way of going after what you need or want. After all, it’s really true – anything worth doing is worth doing well, and worth working for!

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Things to Consider ]


onor Barnes was recently accepted into the Master ’s of Accounting in Government and Public Finance at Rutgers University. Not only is it the only advanced degree program in the countr y for governmental accounting, auditing and finance, but it also is available completely online. As a working mother navigating a career change, Conor chose the 10 -course program for its content and flexibilit y. “This program is helping with a career change for me. I was previously in education for 8 years,” she says. “I don’t think my career change would be possible without a program like this one, especially since I have a small child and need the flexibilit y of the par t-time and online courses.” No matter what field you’re interested in, we think you’ll find Conor’s insightful answers to our questions extremely helpful.

What made you decide to pursue your master’s? After eight years in education, I am transitioning to a career in financial services and accounting- specifically helping artists and social enterprises build and manage their finances. As part of that, I want to become a CPA and need the credit hours to qualify to sit for the exam.

As you searched for a master’s program, what were your biggest considerations? I needed a program that was parttime and offered online classes. I cannot afford to not work and need the flexible schedule.

What attracted you to the program you chose? In addition to being one of the oldest programs of its kind, the Master’s of Accountancy Program at Rutgers is designed for professionals like mepeople who already have their BA and want to sit for the CPA exam. The state accountancy boards have all sorts of different requirements and a program like this takes some of the guesswork out of deciding which classes will count.

What is your schedule like with work and your studies? It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it.

Do you have any advice for potential students in a situation similar to yours? Understand why you are going. Don’t go to grad school to figure out what you want to do, or -- even worse -- “find yourself.” There are much cheaper and much less time consuming ways to do that. You don’t need to have everything mapped out, but at least know that you are headed in the right direction.

[ Things to Consider ]


f it’s been awhile since you completed your undergraduate studies, you might worry that your basic competencies have passed their freshness date. Revisiting the basics can lift your confidence level and get you back into study mode before transitioning to graduate school, but refresher courses can be pricey. Online education provider offers a surprisingly flexible and low-cost solution. “A lot of graduate programs have prerequisites, and if students aren’t ready for that they’ll fall down very quickly,” says Josef Katz, the firm’s V.P. of marketing. According to Katz, StraighterLine is an ideal resource for prospective graduate students readying themselves for the challenge of advanced studies. “StraighterLine provides a great value and service for a lot of these folks because if they are working and they want to get to a graduate program, and they realize they haven’t done college-level math in a while and the need to refresh themselves before going through some of that advanced material, we provide the flexibility to log on at night, any time of day, any day of the week and go at their own pace.”

All course offerings provide college credit through any of StraighterLine’s partner colleges, as well as institutions that award college credits for American Council of Education (ACE) evaluated courses. All course offerings include on-demand tutoring. Students can choose from a variety of fundamental classes, including precaculus, statistics, accounting and writing. “The other very nice thing for people who are about to go into advanced degree program is that the cost of these classes are lower than what they’re going to be able to pay anywhere else,” Katz points out. “If you need to do a statistics course, for example, you can do it for about $140. You can get statistics done on your own schedule before you step onto campus. If you had to go to campus it might take you four months and it might cost you a couple thousand dollars. We offer flexibility, cost and convenience.” To learn more, visit

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Things to Consider ]

[10] | Guide

[ So it’s Been Awhile ]

By | Andrew Mitchell | Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions


f you’re thinking about going to graduate school after spending several years in the workforce, you’re not alone. Andrew Mitchell of Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions offers some sage advice for prospective students with a few extra miles in the rearview. Everything is relative. Your situation may be either very common or somewhat less, depending on the type of school you’re applying to. If you’re applying to business school, having been out of college for a few years is more of the norm and is more the rule than the exception. At a lot of top business schools, the average amount of work experience after college is four to five years. Even you’re a little more than that you’re still within the normal range for that program. In a lot of graduate programs, a majority of candidates for degrees will be coming right out of undergraduate school. So if you’ve been out of school for a while you might be more unique in their program. That doesn’t mean if you have some extra experience that you’re too old for graduate school, or that you have to be of average age.

themselves more clearly about why they want to go back and be extra clear about their motivation. Test scores matter. The farther you get away from college in terms of years, the more important your are standardized test score becomes in showing that you’re able to do graduate level work. So if you’re 10 years out of college, the fact that you’ve got a high GPA is less significant than it would be if you were just graduating. After all, we forget a lot of stuff from college, the farther away we get. That’s not necessarily anything to worry about as an older applicant, but it does mean that you want to take a standardized test extra seriously. When you succeed on that test as a superlative scorer, you’re

demonstrating that you’re fully able to step into graduate work and that you’re going to be able to succeed in graduate school. Andrew Mitchell is Assistant Director, GMAT and GRE, at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. He graduated from Harvard cum laude with a degree in physics in 2001 and completed his MBA in 2007 at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. An active GMAT and GRE teacher, Andrew was one of the first instructors to achieve Elite teacher status in New England. He was also a contributor to Kaplan’s 2010 GMAT course.

Get focused. When you’re further out of school and you’ve had the opportunity to develop maturity, you need to have crystal-clear focus as to why you want to go back to your graduate school education. You want to be able to articulate that very clearly. Someone who has more work experience, more time to mature, should be asked prepared to explain

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ A Look at Today’s Hottest Fields ]



Getting your master’s degree in accounting may give you an edge in this fast-growing field. As the economy rebounds the number of businesses will grow, which means more work for skilled advisors, tax preparers, auditors and accounting managers. With employment for accountants expected to grow over 20% in the next few years, if you’ve got a background in bookkeeping or undergraduate-level accounting, or you’re a CPA looking to enhance your expertise, this is a great time to get your advanced degree. According to a salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as of July 2009, master’s degree candidates in accounting received starting offers averaging $49,786 a year.

Helpful Hint Healthcare and Criminal Justice are just two of today’s hottest fields. We’ve assembled several career guides to give you an inside look at the satisfying and profitable jobs in both professions, including what you’ll need to study, and what your career options will be. Check out our Guides here [12] | Graduate Degree Guide

Business Administration and Financial Operations

When it comes to business, a competitive environment is your friend. In fact, the business and financial industry sector is expected to create 1.2 million new jobs over the next few years. That’s an increase of about 11% over past years, and a great number of firms will be looking to hire workers with master’s degrees. A great number of these new jobs will be created in the management, scientific and technical consulting industry, as well as in government, healthcare, finance and insurance. Large organizations often pay more than small ones, and salary levels also can depend on the type of industry and location. Financial analysts in 2008, for example, earned median annual wages of $73,150, which is more than double the national median wage.

Management Analysis This industry sector is expected to grow by 24% over the next decade, with the plum jobs going to analysts with advanced degrees. Management analysts and consultants use their expertise to help businesses improve their performance. Many analysts are self-employed, working on a contract-by-contract basis; others join specialty consulting firms in a range of disciplines. Management analysts and consultants are needed in all types of businesses, such as biotechnology, healthcare, information technology, human resources, engineering, and marketing, to name a few. Consulting and analysis can be very lucrative: for example, the median annual wages of wage and salary management analysts in May 2008 were $73,570.

[ A Look at Today’s Hottest Fields ]

“Opportunities for master’s educated pros are plentiful, and the median annual wage is $44,00.” Health Education There’s one positive aspect of the rising cost of healthcare, and that’s the increasing need for health educators. The specialty is expected to grow faster than average over the next few years, as communities and governments aim to control costs by raising the level of awareness around costly health concerns. Graduate programs in health education include public health education, community or school health education and health promotion, and there are a number of avenues to pursue. Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Education of Master of Public Health degrees are all found in this exciting field. Health educators held about 66,200 jobs in 2008. Employment is on the rise, expected to grow by 18% -faster than the average for all occupations. Opportunities for master’s educated pros are plentiful, and the median annual wage is $44,000. Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Choosing the Right School ]

[14] | Guide

[ Choosing the Right School ]

By | Kristen Cambell | Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions


esearch your “Must-Have” Colleges: What are the most important criteria for you? For some, location is paramount. For others, size (big or small) definitely matters. Does the school have a strong athletics program? Are students very intellectual? Are you interested in a school’s drama or art department? Different students have different needs and interests. Determine Your Budget for Tuition: At first glance, a state school may seem to cost a fraction of the price of a private college or university. However, many students at state schools don’t end up graduating in four years. Check that state school’s four-year graduation rate before choosing it over a private school for financial reasons alone.

Be Smart About College Rankings: While rankings can vary widely and don’t necessarily give you relevant information, you should find out a school’s freshman year retention rate (it should be 93% or better). This reflects how students feel about the school—if

they like it enough to stay. If you’re applying for financial aid, definitely check the average percentage of demonstrated need met. Kristen Campbell is the director of college prep programs for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

“Asking just any student at a college his or her opinion can be helpful, but won’t offer the same insight as someone whose background is similar to yours.”

Talk to Alumni: Contact someone who’s currently attending a particular college or university. Asking just any student at a college his or her opinion of the school can be helpful, but won’t offer the same insight as someone whose background is similar to yours.

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Choosing the Right School ]


ncorporated as an independent non-profit university in 1997, Western Governor’s University is a fully accredited online university offering online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The University consists of four colleges: Teacher’s College, College of Business, College of Information Technology and the College of Health Professions. Time Magazine called Western Governor’s University “The Best Relatively Cheap University You’ve Never Heard Of.” Patrick Partridge, the University’s VP of Marketing and Enrollment, spoke to us about what sets WGU apart, and offers his perspective on what you’ll need to succeed as an online student.

What makes WGU different? One of the things that distinguishes us in the online higher educational sphere is the extent to which we are offering certain targeted, specialized, competitive scholarships. There are numerous current scholarship offerings. We use scholarships in a couple of ways, but ultimately they all drop back to our overriding mission, which

[16] | Graduate Degree Guide

is about expanding access to higher education and quality education primarily for working adults who for various reasons, would struggle to go back to a traditional school. In our unique capacity as the nation’s only online nonprofit university, we see our scholarships as a fitting part of that mission. We will introduce over the course of the year, or reintroduce or add new scholarships to usually as many as 15 different scholarship programs.

What’s your student population look like? Does it vary by discipline or by area of study? I’m a statistics kind of guy and I always say, “be aware of averages, they lie.” There’s a bell curve distribution around every average. The average age of our students is 36 years old. That’s simply the median and the reality is that ranges from early 20s all the way to the 60s. That’s a pretty wide distribution. Consequently, that’s true across all of the different colleges in different degree areas to some extent. Your MBA seeking students are a little bit older than your bachelor’s level seeking students, but that’s what you would naturally expect.

What do you recommend for peopleconsidering going back to college?

I would encourage somebody planning to go back to school for a master’s degree that’s a working individual, that it really is about what’s in their hearts. It takes a certain level of realistic determination --- people need to not be Pollyanna-ish about what it’s like going back to school, particularly online. We listen to four or five graduation speakers every year who were not necessarily selected because they were valedictorian students, but because of the type of challenges they faced to finish their degree. We’ve had people who have learned they had cancer while they were students and dealt with that and still graduated, or who were single parents with four kids into jobs. An individual’s personal determination is probably the single most important factor for success in online study. You have to assume that over the course of the two or three years in your life, while you’re a student, that you’re going to have some personal challenges that could be given as reasons to quit. For those who are working toward

[ Choosing the Right School ]

their first bachelor’s, oftentimes these are people who’ve had things in the past that they let stop them. You can’t do that. You’ve got to be determined to persevere, even when life throws you some curve balls, because when you’re an adult pretty much every two or three years you can count on one. I point that out to people that the

difference between the student who comes to WGU and who succeeds versus the student who comes to WGU with human struggles and perhaps drops (out) isn’t that they necessarily have more money or easier lives or don’t have death and divorces and job losses and all of those other things -- they have them, too. It’s just that they’re determined to succeed.

That implies a high level of self motivation, and that has to be coupled with learning some study habits. It means forgoing some of the daily distractions, whether that’s television or other sorts of things. You have to find the time and put it in. At WGU we’re very supportive of our students. And the students willing to work at it will succeed. Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Accreditation Matters ]

[18] | Guide

[ Accreditation Matters ]


ccording to the U.S. Depar tment of Education, “the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” There are several accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations tasked with developing evaluation criteria and making sure that those schools and programs who request accreditation are meeting that established criteria. Making sure the program or school that you choose is accredited by a legitimate accrediting body is extremely

impor tant. Amid the thousands of above-board organizations of fering great academics are shady “degree mills” that are happy to take your hard-earned cash for a wor thless and potentially reputation-ruining sheepskin. The U.S. Depar tment of Education’s Of fice of Postsecondar y Education maintains a free public database of accredited higher education programs gathered from recognized accrediting agencies and state approval agencies. Getting star ted is easy – just follow this link. http://w w w.ope.

Accreditation Anagrams You Should Recognize: ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges accredits occupational, trade and technical schools and programs, including distance education. and is officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency. AACSB: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and accredits over 590 programs. CAHME: The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education accredits graduate programs in healthcare management and is officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency. CCNE: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency. NCATE: The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredits 632 colleges of education with 78 more seeking accreditation.

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Funding your Master’s Education ]


he basics: FAFSA The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the application for U.S. government financial aid for college, including need-based Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), National SMART Grants, TEACH Grants, and more. The FAFSA’s purpose is to determine how much money you and your family can contribute to paying for your college education. Since most states, colleges, and private sponsors of need-based scholarships want you to apply for federal financial aid first, the FAFSA also helps make you eligible for thousands of non-federal grants and scholarships.

The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program The Direct Loan program is a workable federal funding option for graduate students. With direct loans, students borrow directly from the federal government. Four different loan types are offered through the program:

FAFSA Guide The FAFSA is your first and most important step to getting the money you need to help you pay for college. StudentAdvisor has put together a one-stop guide to understanding and completing your FAFSA application. Check out our FAFSA Guide [20] | Graduate Degree Guide

Subsidized. These are needbased loans, and you’ll need to demonstrate that you meet the federal guidelines for aid. There will be times where you won’t be charged interest on your loan, which can be a big help. Unsubsidized. These loans aren’t based on financial need, and you’ll have to pay interest for the duration of the loan.

PLUS loans. These are unsubsidized loans for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance, and charge interest.

Consolidation loans. If you are eligible, you may combine several federal student loans into a single Direct Consolidation Loan.

Because the Direct Loan Program is federal financial aid, you’ll have to complete a FAFSA application. Eligible graduate students may be able to borrow up to $138,500, of which no more than $65,500 may be subsidized. You are not required to begin paying your loan until your attendance drops to half time. For eligibility requirements, loan limits, and more information about the Direct Loan Program, visit DirectLoan * Learn more about federal financial aid with our Financial Aid Guide.

Fellowships, Grants and Private Financial Aid

Graduate and professional students have a variety of private financial aid, grant and fellowship opportunities in virtually every field of study. Let’s take a look at just a few of these innovative and helpful programs.

Jacob Javitz Fellowships

If you’ve got great promise, superior academic ability and need financial support, you may qualify for a Javitz fellowship. The Javitz is offered at the Master of Fine Arts and doctoral levels, and is awarded to students pursuing degrees in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. To be eligible, you must be either accepted to or attending an accredited graduate degree program. With this fellowship, your college or university is given $13,755 in lieu of your tuition, and you are paid a maximum stipend of $30,000. Get the details at index.html

Michigan State University

Michigan State University has put together an exhaustive listing of available funding sources for graduate students. According to the Michigan State University website, the COS Funding Opportunities database is the “most comprehensive source of funding information available on the web, with more than 23,000 records, representing over 400,000 funding opportunities, worth over $33 billion.” The Libraries of Michigan State University have also compiled a directory of funding opportunities that includes links to websites, books, and articles. Check it out: grants/3gradinf.htm

[ Funding your Master’s Education ] Western Governor’s University

The nation’s first non-profit online university Western Governor’s University offers nationally, regionally, NCATE, and CCNE accredited degree programs in business, information technology, teacher education, and health professions including nursing. WGU’s impressively diverse range of funding opportunities for graduate students includes: •

The AARP Foundation—Western Governor’s University Educational Assistance Program offers $5,000 in scholarship funds to students over 40 who wish to attend college online to earn their degree. and improve their education and opportunities for employment. Nurse Educators Scholarships. Each valued up to $2,000, the scholarships are designed to help registered nurses earn their master’s degree and become effective, qualified nurse educators. Economic Turnaround Scholarships. Designed for unemployed workers who’ve lost their job within the past 12 months, these $5,000 scholarships help adult learners earn a post-baccalaureate

degree to enhance their skills and opportunities for employment. Mathematics and Science Educators Scholarships. These scholarships, each valued up to $4,000, are designed to help aspiring and current mathematics and science educators attend college online to earn their degree (and initial teaching certification) to teach mathematics or science.

University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers 140 graduate programs leading to advanced degrees in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, the Sam M. Walton College of Business, the College of Education and Health Professions, the College of Engineering, and the School of Law. The University’s student population is drawn from all 50 states and 90 countries around the world, and offers a range of graduate degree funding programs, including: •

The Benjamin Franklin Lever Tuition Fellowship, which

provides financial assistance to graduate students from underrepresented groups. The Leggett Chancellor’s Fellowship, which supports research for graduate students attending University of Arkansas Fayetteville and studying fish, wildlife and conservation. An annual stipend of $12,000 is available, as well as full ride tuition. The Kuroda Fellowship for students attaining a graduate degree in physics, chemistry, or engineering who are interested in continuing Dr. Paul Kuroda’s work on the age and the origin of the elements found in the solar system.

Additionally, funding for graduate work is available through University of Arkansas’ colleges. For example, the Sam M. Walton College of Business offers financial aid in the form of graduate assistanceships that waive tuition and offer a $2,500 stipend per semester in exchange for 15 hours of work per week. To learn more, go to index.html

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ]

Rig ht Aw ay A

s a graduate student, you’ll be writing a lot, and getting up close and personal with the p-word: procrastination. That’s why we asked dissertation coach Gina Hiatt, PhD for her tips for avoiding this timewasting writer’s trap.

Write for a reasonable time everyday, sometimes for just 10 minutes.

Free write about what you like and don’t worry. That’s brainstorming writing. Get a timer, wait for a short period of time and during that period of time, just write. Don’t stop to look up references. Don’t stop to check something. Don’t stop to fix a sentence that is horribly written, just keep going. You can make a note to go back later, but the idea is to get your thoughts out even if you’re not ready.

Write before you’re ready. Do this to get out what direction you want to go in because these are your original thoughts. You can go back later, when you’re in editing and revising mode, and make your second and third revision. What we try to tell students to do is to write

[22] | Graduate Degree Guide

uncritically. If it’s your first time writing the zero draft or not even a first draft, it doesn’t matter. Just get the information down and go back and edit it the next day if you need to. Keep yourself moving along.

Writing begets writing. Writing every day will make you less anxious. When you’re too close to the deadline and thinking, “they’re going kick me out of graduate school! I have to write 100 pages!” you are not writing in a relaxed way. And the huge benefit is that even if you spend 10 minutes a day you get more ideas. Researcher Robert Boice, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stony Brook University, did a study of three groups. One was told not to write except for the things they absolutely had to do; the other group was told to write when the muse hit, and the third was told to write everyday no matter what, for at least 30 minutes. Even though that group was really sad about being in that group and they really hated it, when they asked him later to clock the number of creative ideas per day, that group had many more creative ideas than the group who just wrote when they felt like it.

When you write everyday, you’re more likely to talk about your writing with friends or colleagues and get ideas. And there’s a lot of benefit to that. We tell people try to write first thing, and reward yourself with something --- a cup of coffee or time to check your e-mail. Try to do it that way.

Practice, practice, practice. The only way you can become a better writer is to practice writing and get feedback on it. You learn from editing and correction. I learned to be a much better writer because my advisor was a stickler, and she kept explaining grammar rules and showing me how to write better. Gina J Hiatt, PhD is a clinical psychologist, tenure coach and dissertation coach. She helps graduate students to complete research and writing projects and publish, while maintaining high standards and other commitments. In addition to dissertation coaching, she runs workshops and teleclasses on time management, writing, career planning and graduate student/ advisor relationships. She is also the founder of the Academic Writing Club.

[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ]

Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ]


By | Nick Rebak | Grad Resources t is essential to develop effective coping skills while in graduate school to succeed in a healthy manner, both while in graduate school and later in life. An individual’s reaction to, and ability to cope with stress may be more important than lessening the load. The problem of burnout demands that the graduate student possess a strong ego identity. This inner sense gives confidence to the individual and coherence to life experience which frees the student to cope with the pressures of academia. Developing adequate methods of dealing with stress throughout a lifetime involves recognizing weaknesses, utilizing strengths and employing outside sources. To aid in developing a strategy for coping, we have included the following practical recommendations for dealing with the burnout syndrome.

1. Journal your progress.

Journaling your progress in dealing with stress and burnout will enable you to identify how this syndrome operates personally in your experience and to seek solutions. Some possible suggestions are:

[24] | Graduate Degree Guide

Begin to analyze your destructive “self-talk” -- identify the statements that you say to yourself that minimize your worth and are false statements of your progress and accomplishments. Don’t compare yourself to superperformers. Be aware of what you require to remain refreshed and do not attempt to maintain the same pace as them. Identify your strengths and give yourself the opportunity

to rebuild confidence through utilizing them. •

“Mark your trail” when exhaustion sets in. Begin describing the conditions that bring it on, the symptoms by which you identify it and the most efficient means to deal with the problem. Take note of your progress and remember that healthy change takes longer than expected.

2. Manage time and set personal priorities. Without good time management, burnout becomes a high probability. When attempting time management consider: First, conserving time -- be wise with the hours in the day. Set a schedule, but don’t be forced to follow it absolutely. Second, controlling time -- learn to say “no” where possible and follow through. Third, making time -realize priorities, reorganize them, and stick to what is important.

[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ]

The following are some suggestions for making use of your time: • Find privacy where the telephone can’t ring and people can’t interrupt. • Get an appropriate amount of sleep. Add one-half hour of sleep each day until you wake up on your own to assess your biological need. You can go for a brief period of shortened nights for extended study hours but do not sustain this schedule for long periods of time. • Allow yourself leisure time and take vacations -- even if for a day. Include types of leisure that refresh (alone and in a quiet atmosphere) and that give perspective, i.e. reading an article in another field, novels, listening to music, cooking (or even escaping to the graduate coffee house). • Exercise regularly -- even regular walks will help. • Eat properly balanced meals. Plan menus for two weeks and freeze large dishes. Plan meals around for socializing to give more time for interpersonal relationships.

3. Cultivate relationships.

To cope with burnout, acknowledge your need for interaction with other people. Although finding time for relationships is a challenge for graduate students, social networks add a balance that is vital to alleviating stress. Here are some areas to appraise: • Assess your current friendships. Which of these are at the acquaintance level the companionship level or the established-friendship level? How could these relationships be cultivated with the goal

of seeing them progress to a higher level than they are at the present? • Develop interaction networks. Consider exercising with a group of people to be accountable to one another and maximize the aerobic benefits. • Find ways to get out of yourself and get your focus off your condition. Look for opportunities to serve your peers, the campus community, and the less fortunate in your city.

“Developing adequate methods of dealing with stress throughout a lifetime involves recognizing weaknesses, utilizing strengths and employing outside sources.” 4. Develop your world view.

Your philosophy of life is vital to achieving purpose and fulfillment. Acquiring a perspective on your place in society and contribution to life will help guard against feelings of discouragement and meaninglessness that deepens emotional fatigue. In assessing your world view, here are some essential questions to consider: • What is the highest priority of your life? • What would you like the biggest priority of your life to be in 40 years?

• Is there a cause (or causes) for which you would sacrifice your personal standard of living? • If someone asked you to describe the principles by which you live your life, what would you say? • Are there any absolute rights or wrongs? What are they? • How do you make decisions? For example: How will you decide upon your future job placement? The person you decide to marry? •

What is one question that you would most like answered about life?

If you could change one thing about our world what would it be?

What do you perceive to be your calling, the ideals for which you work? Is it consistent with the highest priorities of your life and with the principles by which you live? Are you living out these views in your academic life? The answers you formulate for these questions reveal your perception of life. In addition, by forming a realistic and accurate world view, you increase your ability to deal with burnout and fatigue in an effective way and forge an inner purpose upon which you can build for the rest of your life. Nick Repak is the founder of the National Graduate Student Crisis Line, and currently ser ves as Director, of Grad Resources. A non-profit organization based in Dallas, Texas, Grad Resources ser ves the practical and emotional needs of graduate students on several university campuses across the United States. Grad Resources offers graduate students free assistance and suppor t via graduate student orientation programs, seminars, suppor t groups and online resources. Find them here: Graduate Degree Guide |


[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ]


fter working for about 10 years in business, I’m now finishing my tenth year in higher education, teaching business. This vantage point gives me a somewhat unique perspective on what it takes to perform well in business school. I’ve collected the insights from my experience in the following “10 Tips for Succeeding in Graduate School and Beyond.”

1. Make academics your top priority: Some students seem to live by the mantra “study only when convenient.” Such students inevitably struggle as rec sports, movie nights, and any number of other diversions eat up most of their best time and energy. A strong business school education is not something that can be positioned as an add-on. Academics must be the main entrée; other involvements are side dishes.

2. Develop strong work habits:

Like it or not, some people are blessed with more intellectual capacity than others. Strong work habits, however, are the great equalizer. Just like an athlete can overcome a lack of physical size or speed through high energy and aggressive play, students can leverage their intellectual gifts by working harder and more diligently.

3. Do things excellently:

Life is full of mediocrity—people doing just enough to satisfy the minimum requirements. As a result, it’s remarkable

[26] | Graduate Degree Guide

when someone does something really well. Even if the task itself is not that significant in the overall scheme of things, it’s impressive to see it done excellently, for instance, a very wellwritten homework assignment, or an extremely thorough set of meeting minutes. More importantly, those favorable impressions tend to stick with people, like professors and supervisors, who often remember the excellent work when thinking of people to recommend for scholarships, promotions, etc.

4. Build your network:

The old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is misleading in that the business world does reward expertise and competence, and penalize a lack thereof. Still, there’s much to be said about building and maintaining strong business relationships. All things equal, people prefer to do business with others they know, like, and trust. Consequently, business students should take advantage of the opportunity to start building their own network while surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of future businesspeople. There’s no telling what mutual benefits these relationships might produce in years to come, as well as during business school.

5. Stay on-top of current events:

Successful businesses are aware of what’s happening in the world around them, socially, politically, economically, etc. Furthermore, they make strategic and tactical decisions based on those influences. Business students should

develop the same habit of staying informed, not just because they’ll need that discipline later in life, but also because a firm grasp of key issues and players will enhance and expedite their understanding of business concepts.

6. Embrace technology:

It’s no secret that technological advances continue to occur at a blistering pace. Given that few disciplines are impacted more by these advances than business, it’s important that business students keep pace with such changes. Doing so means more than using PS3 or having a Facebook account. Business students should be familiar with technological tools and trends related to business strategy and productivity, for instance, Linked-In, interactive marketing, and cloud computing.

7. Gain experience:

Like much of academia, business school learning often takes place in the classroom, be it a traditional bricksand-mortar classroom or a virtual one. Business students should look to supplement classroom pedagogy through experiential learning opportunities. Internships are one great source of applied learning. Also, some professors integrate experiential learning within their classes; for instance, through a service-learning course project students might develop marketing plans for local nonprofit organizations. Not only do such opportunities bring business concepts to life, these experiences also look good on resumes to prospective employers.

[ Managing your Master’s Program and your Life ] 8. Take care of yourself physically:

Sometimes it’s tempting to believe that maintenance of the “physical realm” (i.e., care for one’s body) is independent from performance in the professional realm. Of course, the reality is that you can’t accomplish much in business or business school if you’re not healthy and well. Furthermore, many people find that a strong body feeds a strong mind. So, good eating, exercise, and sleep habits will enhance your academic and professional performance.

9. Act ethically:

This recommendation may seem cliché, but when one considers how the moral lapses of a few people in business have affected so many, it’s clear that the value of ethical conduct cannot be overestimated. What’s important to emphasize here is that a predisposition to behave morally is something that develops over time. Don’t expect, for

instance, a CEO who couldn’t resist the temptation to take answers from a classmate’s exam, to resist the urge to borrow a competitor’s proprietary technology. Ethical behavior must be practiced in business school if it’s going to be exercised in the business world.

10. Serve others:

In many ways moral action represents not doing the wrong thing. Increasingly, businesses are challenging themselves to go beyond ethical behavior to undertake community-building activities that are not expected of them. This type of behavior is often called corporate social responsibility (CSR). Business students should prepare themselves to take part in this growing economic trend by seeking opportunities to serve others, either through their personal contacts or through a wide array of society-minded organizations. Although the promise

of service here is for long-term, careerrelated benefits, the most gratifying rewards will likely come from the more immediate satisfaction of helping others. Dr. David Hagenbuch holds a B.S. in marketing from Messiah College, an M.B.A. from Temple University, and a D.B.A. from Anderson University. Before teaching, he worked in Dr. David Hagenbuch business for nearly ten years, first as a corporate sales analyst for a national Christian radio network and then as a partner in his family’s specialty advertising agency where he managed daily operations, handled several major accounts, and performed graphic design. Dr. Hagenbuch is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.

Graduate Degree Guide |



• Compare stats on more than 7,000 schools and colleges. • Thousands of reviews from parents, students and alumni. • Download free planning guides. • Get unbiased answers to your questions from our experts.

© 2010 Avenue100 Media Solutions Inc.'s Graduate Degree Guide  

It’s never too late to continue your education; whether you finished your undergraduate studies two, ten, or twenty years ago, you can still...'s Graduate Degree Guide  

It’s never too late to continue your education; whether you finished your undergraduate studies two, ten, or twenty years ago, you can still...