Thinking About Grad School?


Depending on your interests and plans for the future, graduate education may be the next step on your professional and academic journey. Though each field is different, people with advanced degrees generally enjoy lower unemployment rates and higher incomes. That benefit, however, comes after years of dedicated study. In most cases a master’s degree is the next step after you complete your bachelor’s degree. In some cases, however, you may be able to enter a doctoral program directly after your undergraduate degree is complete.  Before you apply you should decide whether you want a research-oriented, traditional program or one specifically designed to prepare you to be a practicing professional in a certain field.

No matter the program you choose, going to graduate school requires a substantial commitment of time and energy. While many master’s degree programs are designed to be completed in two years of full-time study, professional doctorates and PhDs take between four and eight years of dedicated work. You should explore your options carefully, request information from the graduate program director, and get in touch with The Graduate School’s admissions team. The UTEP Career Center’s “Career Planning Guide” also offers advice about considering graduate school.

Professional & Clinical Programs

For some careers, an advanced degree provides both essential preparation and a necessary professional credential. Specialized clinical programs, such as the Master’s in Social Work (MSW), a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), or Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) give you the skills you need to work as a clinician in those fields and acquire the necessary professional licensure and certification. Similarly, a Master’s of Education (MEd) can prepare you to be a counselor or administrator, or other specialized professional with the proper certification to work in Texas public schools. Other fields such as business (MBA), public health (MPH), and public administration (MPA) have specialized professional master’s degrees which prepare you to work in those settings.

Find out more about the graduate programs offered at UTEP click here to explore degrees & programs.


Traditional Academic Programs

Traditional academic programs, most commonly Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), introduce you to the literature, theory and methodology, and research practices of a certain academic discipline. For example, a Master’s of Arts in Political Science will introduce you to the study of politics and governance. If you are interested in gaining more specialized knowledge in an academic discipline or you are interested in conducting research, a MA or MS may be appropriate for you. If you would like to pursue a career as a college or university professor or you would like to be a researcher for a government agency or high-technology company, you may want to pursue a PhD.

Find out more about the graduate programs offered at UTEP click here to explore degrees & programs.


Paying for Grad School

Before committing to a graduate program, you should carefully consider how much it will cost, what funding options are available. To assist, the UTEP Financial Aid Office calculates Cost of Attendance, and Student Business Services provides options for payment, relevant deadlines, as well as tuition and fee schedules. Other helpful resources include The U.S. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's "Paying for College Guide" and the Council of Graduate School's GradSense Resource page. The UTEP Graduate School also maintains information regarding Financial Aid, Internal Funding, External Funding, and Funding for Mexican Students.


Some questions to consider before going to graduate school:

  1. What are your long-term career goals?
  2. How much time are you willing to dedicate to a graduate program?
  3. What’s the average time to completion for the graduate program?
  4. What does the job market look like in your desired field?
  5. What kinds of funding assistance are available (financial aid, TA/GA positions, scholarships, grants)?
  6. If you are taking out loans, will there be loan-forgiveness programs available in your field? Will you make enough money to pay them off easily?
  7. What prerequisites (for example, mastery of a second language or an advanced statistics course) and/or exams (for example, GRE or GMAT) does your program require?
  8. How can you practice good self-care while going back to school? What sacrifices are you willing to make? What habits should you keep?
  9. How will your decision to go back to school impact your partner, family, and close friends? What sacrifices are you willing to make? How can you balance your studies with your personal life?


Some questions to consider before entering a professional or clinical program:

  1. Does your field have licensure or certification requirements that you must complete during or after your program of study? If so, how successful are the program’s students or graduates in completing them?
  2. What kinds of internships, practica, or other field experiences are incorporated into the program? How much time will those activities require?
  3. What kinds of networking and job placement services does your program offer?


Some questions to consider before entering a PhD program:

  1. Do you love reading, writing, and research?
  2. Are post-doctoral fellowships common in your field?
  3. Have you identified a professor who can serve as your mentor/director?
  4. Does the program align with your research interests?
  5. What kinds of funding are available for your research and for travel to academic conferences?


UTEP Graduate & Professional Education Expo

Each semester, The Graduate School hosts the UTEP Graduate & Professional Expo, where you can meet representatives from academic programs, research labs, and centers of excellence.  The Graduate School staff also offers helpful workshops that address topics such as applying to graduate school, preparing a CV and statement of purpose, and financing your graduate education.


Archived Materials “Applying to Graduate School”  

Archived Materials: “Preparing a CV and Statement of Purpose”

Archived Materials: “Financing your Graduate Education”


For more information contact the Graduate School at (915) 747-5491 or email