Students, faculty consider importance of attending graduate school

Editor's Note: This article has been revised to reflect a correction. The original article stated that perspective graduate students were required to have a 3.8 GPA to gain admission. There is no blanket 3.8 minimum requirement, the actual minimums vary from program to program.

Of the more than 20,000 students who attend Central Michigan University, few will finish their undergraduate degree in four years.

Even fewer will pursue a graduate degree after receiving a bachelor’s degree. University officials are attempting to change this trend by placing a larger emphasis on graduate studies.

Rob Hassen, the coordinator of graduate recruiting, said the value of a graduate degree in today’s job market cannot be specifically measured.

“In some areas, having a graduate degree or not can be the difference between getting hired and not getting hired,” Hassen said. “It really depends on the field of study. We encourage as many students as we can to study at the graduate level because it can give a student a serious edge against the competition.”

There are several requirements to study at the graduate level at CMU. Students are required to have a bachelor’s degree, a varying level of GPA requirements and a bevy of extracurricular experience.

In addition, students wishing to apply to various graduate programs are required to write a statement of purpose, depicting why they want to pursue further education.

“That statement of purpose is hugely important,” Hassen said. “We see students with nearly perfect grades and good experience in the field. But if their statement of purpose paper is just thrown together at the last minute, they likely won’t get into that program. It’s a huge part of applying.”

English, history, education and psychology are programs Hansen recommends for advanced degrees.

“You cannot specialize in any particular area of psychology when you are working toward an undergraduate degree,” said Psychology Chair Hajime Otani. “There are some areas of psychology you may be able to go into after getting an undergraduate degree. However, if you really want to work in a particular area of psychology, you need a graduate degree.”

English professor Jeffery Weinstock said graduate school is not for all students.

“The only type of person who should be going to grad school is the type of person who is very passionate about what they are studying,” he said. “It is for specialization and gaining expertise. It is an important endeavor that must be taken very seriously”

Many areas of study do not require a graduate degree, so some students find little purpose in continuing their education upon undergraduate degree completion.

Greenville senior Morgan MacDermaid said graduate school is the last thing she is interested in.

“I’m so ready to be done with school,” MacDermaid said. “I’ve thought about (grad school) before, but I don’t really see the point. I get mail from grad programs all the time. I’m pretty sure my undergrad degree is all I’m going to need to get a job.”