Application preparation for graduate school may seem overwhelming. But, with a little focused effort, the process can go smoothly.
Graduate school is a big step that offers incredible opportunities to advance your career and overall life. Deciding on what to study and where to go are the firsts major stepping stones on this journey. After that comes the prep work to set you up for an easy transition into your educational adventure. Gathering important documents and prepping for the application process can seem overwhelming. With a little organization and focus, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your goal.
To get started, let’s take a look at how you can get your application into its best shape by looking at essential elements of the process.
What Type of Qualification Interests You?
There are four common program types that surpass undergraduate-level education. each one requires a slightly different application process.
- Accelerated programs
- Non-degree programs
- Certificate programs
- Graduate degree programs
Each program application is different, but they generally contain the following common aspects:
- An official, undergraduate transcript from the school you attended (typically with a GPA of at least 3.0)
- A statement or essay explaining your interest in the program
- Evidence of residency or immigration status
- Some type of application fee, which usually ranges from $70 to $150
- The option to complete an online or printed version
An Accelerated Program Application
An accelerate program application is different from the others because it can begin while you’re still an undergraduate student. While this is immensely beneficial to those wanting to maximize their time, it can be difficult to get permission from the necessary people. If you’re still an undergraduate student, you’ll need to submit a request for signatures for the Request for Approval for Undergraduates to Take Courses for Graduate Credit form for each graduate-level course in your Plan of Study. Then, if you’re accepted into the program, you’ll need to meet with the Graduate Program Director to design a Plan of Study for the rest of your time at UMBC. Lastly, if accepted, you’ll need to submit another application to the Graduate School.
These tasks may sound tedious and frustrating, but the opportunities that an accelerated program can give you far outweigh them. For example, an accelerated BS/MS degree gives you more experience, which can lead to higher salaries. In Cybersecurity, the average salary for Information Security Analysts in 2016 was $92,600, and for lead Security Software Engineers, it was $233,333.
A Non-Degree Program Application
A non-degree application for graduate-level coursework requires significantly fewer components than an accelerated program application. While some graduate programs allow photocopies of official transcripts, others do not. Luckily, UMBC does because they realize how difficult it can be to obtain an official transcript. In addition to that, students must confirm their residency or immigration status and submit a $70 non-refundable application fee to UMBC.
While this may sound like a lot for a program that doesn’t provide a degree, it does provide a competitive edge over the competition. In Engineering Management, employers are often looking to hire people who have already completed certifications and are prepared Project Management Professionals (PMP), Certified Scrum Masters, and Certified Scrum Product Owners, which UMBC can give you.
A Certificate Program Application
The best part about seeking a graduate-level certificate is the flexibility and opportunity that comes with it. UMBC offers a range of certificate programs so you can invest in the career field of your choice, regardless of what it is. A certificate program application has the same components of a non-degree program application, so be sure to have your transcripts and application fee ready. Certifications in your career field allow a company to see your value and worth even sooner.
For example, earning a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Project Management makes you a valuable asset to a company. 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success, according to this article.
A Graduate Degree Program
This type of program is most common and most sought out. For this type of application, you’ll need an official transcript, unlike the applications above, and to have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. You’ll also need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submit your scores. In addition, you’ll need to submit test scores and letters of recommendation as evidence of your academic potential.
Recommendation letters that speak to your ability to learn and excel are vital to this application. The institution must know that you are prepared for the workload coming and that you are able to handle it successfully. This application is also unique as it has a two-step process. First, the application gets reviewed by the academic departmental graduate admission committee or graduate program director, who determines your admissibility. Then, if accepted, your application goes to the Graduate School, who reviews your application and sends you the official decision letter.
When it comes to applications, you always want to hope for the best outcome but prepare for the worst. Remember that if you are not accepted into the program of your choice, it is just a minor setback on your path to success. If you are accepted, welcome to this new chapter of your life! You’ve already decided that this is what you want. Now, it’s time to go get it.
UMBC’s Office of Professional Studies offer a broad array of professionally-focused master’s degree and certificate programs that address industry needs while anticipating future opportunities.