Students considering whether to apply to graduate programs directly after Colgate, or to first gain professional experience may consult campus advisers and resources to find the best decision for them. 

Are You Ready?

Students should consider the following questions when determining whether to apply to graduate school. They are helpful when considering whether one has achieved the right mix of experiences to be viewed as a competitive graduate program applicant:

  • Is graduate study necessary for me to achieve my professional goals? Are those goals clear?
  • Have I proven my academic potential during my undergraduate experience to convince an admissions committee that I can excel in graduate level work?
  • Do I have a specific discipline narrowed down that I would want to focus on for a number of years?
  • Realistically, am I mentally, physically, and financially prepared to undertake another long-term academic commitment?
  • Do I have other needs or interests that conflict with pursuing a graduate degree?
  • Am I able to put the time and energy into creating a strong application in the timeframe that the program would require—or will I miss key application deadlines?

Choosing a Graduate Program

After making the decision to apply to graduate schools, students must determine the programs to which they will apply.

Choosing a graduate program is a different process than applying to Colgate. The focus is more on selecting a program than evaluating the university. Each person’s search criteria will be distinct, but here are some points to factor strongly into determining whether a program is the best fit for you. These items may weigh differently for a master’s degree or doctoral program:

  • What are the research interests of the current tenure track or tenured faculty (not visiting professors or lecturers)?
  • Are the curricular offerings interesting and representative of your professional interests? Is there an opportunity to take courses within other programs at the university that could supplement your program’s courses?
  • What is the size and make-up of a typical incoming student cohort?
  • What kind of experience and academic success is the program seeking of its applicants?
  • What standardized tests are required for admission?
  • How quickly do students typically finish the program?
  • Is this program accredited or credentialed by a professional association (especially important for health-related fields)?
  • What are the opportunities to gain applied experience as part of the program (especially important for those investigating admission directly after Colgate)?
  • What will be the cost of the program? Consider tuition and fees, but also living expenses based on the location of the school.
  • Will you have a chance to visit the school and/or speak to current students to get a feel?
  • Does the school offer adequate accommodations or support for your individual learning or personal needs?
  • Does the program offer fellowships or teaching assistantships?

Engaging Faculty Advisers

Colgate faculty members know their disciplines — and its best graduate training programs —very well. Many of the faculty members have colleagues and former students and mentors who teach at, research at, and attend the schools a student may be considering. Tapping into this extended network may be helpful in landing opportunities such as a paid assistantship. A professor can also speak from their experience of having advised other applicants, and can help in the assessment of an applicant's competitiveness in the admission process.

To get started, students should contact their academic adviser and share their intention to apply for graduate programs following their Colgate graduation.

Engaging Career Services Advisers

On campus, both academic faculty advisers and career advisers in Colgate Career Services, are available to assist.


Connect early and often with our advisors and your faculty members to talk through your plans. Additionally, you can explore some of these resources to get a feel for what's out there: