Published On: Fri, Jul 29th, 2016

What to Expect When You First Start Your Masters Degree

Many college graduates go on to attend graduate school and pursue a master’s degree, but attending graduate school is in many ways different from college. Although all of them require you to attend classes – whether online or in-person – led by a qualified and experienced professor, this is pretty much the extent as to which college and graduate school are similar. Whilst undergraduate programs are designed to provide you with a well-rounded, basic foundation to your field of interest, graduate degrees such as a masters in public health online will build upon your existing knowledge and allow you to specialize within that field.


The Graduate School Classroom

So, what exactly is it like to attend and complete a master’s degree program? Firstly, you may be required to attend less classes than you did when completing your undergraduate degree, instead of being given assigned work which is more directed and less supervised. You should expect to do a lot of reading as a graduate student – in fact, many graduate students say that during their master’s degree, they did more reading than they have ever done in their life. Whether you’re studying for an MBA or want to achieve a master of public health degree, it’s important to keep up with the work as much as you can.


As a graduate student, you will more likely be expected to do more research than you did when attending college for your undergraduate degree. Don’t expect to have to go to many classes where a professor will read an outline to you and provide you with explicit details. As a graduate student, it’s vital that you understand that you will be doing most of the course on a self-study basis, with professors and other teaching staff only available to provide guidance and advice when needed.

Higher Standards

Depending on the college which you attended and the course which you studied as an undergraduate, your previous assignments and research papers may not have been held to the highest of standards. However, when completing a graduate degree, it’s vital to know that there is no way you will be able to get away with completing an assignment or a research paper the day before. Acceptable graduate student work is expected to contain more complex sentence structure, and generally be more scholarly in nature. As a graduate student, you should expect to carry out much more preparation for all of your assignments.


A good graduate student should be independent and demonstrate good leadership skills. If you are attending an on-campus graduate course, you will be expected to participate in and lead discussions and seminar groups. You will also be expected to build a network of connections to provide support both during your study and afterward when you begin to pursue a career. A successful graduate student does not wait around for the answer to be handed to them; participation, dedication and proactivity is absolutely essential.
Studying for a master’s degree is often much more difficult and intense than you have been used to at college. Being prepared is the key to success!