Preparing for Graduate or Professional School
If you further your engineering studies through a graduate program, you will get the opportunity to specialize in an area and you have the freedom to choose that area.
- It will more than likely lead to an increased number of job opportunities (and a larger starting salary).
- You want to further improve your problem solving skills.
- You're looking for new challenges.
- You can develop your public speaking and writing skills.
- You want to teach at a university.
- There is another job you want and you need a graduate or professional degree to get it.
There are a lot of resources available to students who wish to move on to graduate or professional school. Planning early is often key, especially to prepare for professional (law, education, medical) school. Unlike graduate studies in engineering, where your undergraduate work has automatically prepared you to move on, preparation for a professional school often requires typical coursework outside of the engineering curriculum. Your advisor can help you determine how to incorporate these extra courses into your schedule.
There are some common requirements to move on past your undergraduate degree. A strong undergraduate GPA is generally required, along with letters of recommendation from past instructors. Research is an important aspect of graduate school as well as some professional programs, and so having research as an undergraduate will often help to make you a more competitive applicant. Finally, graduate school applications generally require a statement of purpose, which should identify to the program why you want to continue your studies and where your interests lie. A strong statement of purpose is very important to match your interests with appropriate research opportunities.
The best way you can start to prepare for these options is to look into the requirements for various program early in your academic career, as well as to consult with an advisor in that area. Following are some links that will be of assistance to you in learning more about common graduate and professional paths for engineering students.