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Why Go To Graduate School? 4 Impactful Reasons To Enroll

Graduate school can help increase your earning potential, give you access to different job opportunities, or launch a career change. But, with the cost and time commitment, you may be asking yourself, why go to graduate school? And is grad school worth it?

Using an environmental perspective, this post answers the questions, why do people go to grad school, and what do you do in grad school? There are many reasons why people go to graduate school. Some go to meet the educational requirements for a specific job or position, while others want to learn how to protect the earth and its inhabitants. Read on to learn more and discover your personal reasons for going to graduate school. 

a grad student leaning on a wall

Complete graduate school on your terms with a flexible, online master’s degree from Unity Environmental University

What Does Graduate School Typically Look Like?

You can expect graduate school class sizes to be smaller than most undergraduate classes to allow for more personalized attention from the professor. Graduate school classes often include more group discussions in which all grad students are expected to participate. There are several different types of graduate schools. The most common are master’s and Ph.D. programs, but there are also professional graduate degrees such as:

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Juris Doctor (JD) for attorneys 
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Typically, a master’s degree takes 1-2 years of full-time study to complete. In addition to coursework, you may be required to do original research, write a thesis, and/or take comprehensive exams in order to graduate. Ph.D. programs also usually require original research and a dissertation. On average, earning a Ph.D. takes 4-6 years. Lastly, it’s common for graduate students to complete an internship, practicum, or work as a research assistant for a professor during their studies. 

Should I Go To Grad School? 4 Reasons To Go To Grad School

To determine the answer to, “Is graduate school worth it for me,” you must evaluate your long-term goals. Be realistic about whether an advanced degree will benefit you and be worth the cost and time investment. Also, research what careers may be in demand in the next few decades to make sure your degree will hold its value. 

More skilled environmental scientists, researchers, and engineers are needed to address the global environmental challenges caused by climate change. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that experts with specialized knowledge in renewable energy, environmental health and safety, and conservation will continue to be needed in the next ten years. That means going to graduate school for a Master of Professional Science is a smart choice.

Gain Specialized Knowledge

Unlike undergraduate school, graduate school does not require any general education courses. All the classes you take will be specifically geared toward your field of study. Also, you will be asked to choose a narrow focus for your thesis. Some schools ask you to share your potential thesis topic when applying. Others may give you until the end of the first semester to choose a focus. 

Examples of specialized fields in environmental studies graduate programs:

  • Wind energy engineering
  • Marine animal conservation
  • Environmental law and policy

Career Advancement And Impact

One of the most common reasons why people go to graduate school is to advance their careers. Certain positions, especially teaching and research positions, require you to have a minimum of a master’s degree in a related field. Going to grad school may help you get that promotion you have been hoping for. 

Some employers will pay part or all of their employees’ graduate school tuition. If your employer offers this benefit, take advantage of it! Graduate school can be a costly undertaking. At Unity, we are affordable. To ensure that your graduate degree is going to have the career path impact you are hoping for, check out the school’s career outcomes. They will tell you where alumni of the program are working now and what percentage of students were offered jobs after graduation. 

Networking And Collaborations

Networking is key to professional success in any field. Up to 80% of Americans earn their jobs through personal connections, and graduate school is a great opportunity to meet people in your field of interest. You will build relationships with professors and potential future colleagues through classes, networking events, and informal interactions. This is especially important for anyone interested in changing careers

For example, if you earned your degree in psychology but want to work in environmental science or conservation, you may not know anyone in that field. Going to graduate school at an environmental university will help you make the connections you need. 

Expanded Perspective

Graduate school is a great place to nurture your intellectual curiosity around like-minded individuals. You will have the chance to learn from and with other people who are just as passionate about serving the planet as you are. Beyond professional advancement, graduate school is an opportunity to learn about different perspectives, such as indigenous practices for caring for the environment. 

Even if you studied the same field in undergraduate school, there are likely new discoveries, theories, and technology since you graduated. Graduate school is an excellent chance to get up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. This can help you stay sharp and innovative. Since innovation is vital to any business’s success, this also makes you more appealing to employers. 

grad students talking in a group after a class

Tips for Choosing the Right Graduate Program

Now that you know why graduate school is valuable, you may be wondering, what should I go to grad school for? Think about your future professional goals and personal reasons to go to grad school. 

You may want to attend a school with top-notch research laboratories and equipment for you to practice with. Or, you may be seeking mentorship from a specific professor who is an expert in your field. If your goal is to have a career that makes a difference for the planet, then a master of science degree from Unity Environmental University may be right for you! 

There are over 1,000 universities that offer graduate degrees, and they vary significantly. When researching your options, consider the following factors:

  • The reputation of the academic program
  • The expertise of the program faculty
  • The research and fieldwork opportunities available
  • The funding opportunities (i.e. scholarships, grants, loans) available
  • The location of the school

Location is important because some areas will have more job opportunities in certain fields. For example, the Bay Area and Seattle are known to be hubs for technology jobs. The best cities for environmental jobs include New York, Denver, and Washington DC. At Unity, you can study from anywhere because it is 100% online, so you can go to the area you want to be or where the most jobs that you want are.

Looking for a high-paying green job? Consider becoming a green marketing director or manager. 

Apply To An Environmental Graduate Program At Unity Environmental University

Why go to graduate school at Unity Environmental University? Unity Environmental University’s master’s programs are 100% online. They do not require GRE scores for admission, and there are five different start dates to choose from each year. This allows you to fit graduate school into your schedule and continue working while completing your degree. 

You can also sample our graduate programs by taking a 8-week graduate-level online course before choosing to enroll in a degree program. Unity even provides career support to students and alumni. Whether you are choosing to go to graduate school to hone your technical skills, advance your career, or help others, Unity has a master’s degree program for you