Exploring Grad School

Approximately 40% of UCSB students go on to do graduate work at some point. Here are some suggested questions to consider as you evaluate your readiness to pursue additional graduate or professional school options:

  • Do you have clearly defined career goals that require an advanced degree for entry into the profession?
  • Can you articulate your academic and professional reasons for going to graduate school?
  • Does your undergraduate record reflect your ability to do graduate level work?
  • Are you willing to incur the debt and delay the earnings that continuing your education will involve?
  • Are you emotionally ready for one to three more years of academic work at a much more rigorous level than your undergraduate experience?

Starting to feel overwhelmed or need help answering these questions? Come see a Career Counselor!


Different types of graduate programs

Academic Type Programs


  • M.A. (Master of Arts) or M.S. (Master of Science) in a specific discipline or subject can be a way to specialize your education or change fields. These programs can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to complete.
  • Ph.D. (Doctorate Degree), typically takes 5 to 7 years to complete, and also requires an original research project called the dissertation. Many choose a Ph.D. to become professor with future options for consulting and research.

Professional Type Programs
Professional programs are those which provide you with both the training and the credentials to do certain kinds of work. There are numerous degrees for these, and the following list is just a sample of possibilities:  

  • M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) with more than 22 different specializations.
  • M.S.W. (Master of Social Work)
  • M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts)
  • M.P.H. (Master of Public Health)
  • M.D. (Doctor of Medicine)
  • J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence)

Identify graduate programs

Once you’ve decided to apply to graduate school, your next step is to find schools  that have the program you want, and programs that will suit your needs. If you are changing fields or disciplines, be sure to research the specific programs' pre-requisites and contact the school directly with any questions. 

Here are some online resources to identify schools that offer the general program you want.  We recommend that you look at several of these resources and compile a list from there, as any one resource will likely not be comprehensive.

UCSB Graduate Programs

GradSchools.com - unique and comprehensive directory categorized by curriculum and subdivided by geography.

Peterson's Online Graduate Services - similar to GradSchools.com, but you may find some different programs listed. 

US News.com Rankings & Guides

Professional Associations - often will provide a list of accredited universities within the specific field. 

Remember, UCSB Graduate & Professional School Day during Fall quarter where representatives from a wide variety of graduate programs come to campus to answer questions and provide information on applying to their graduate programs. 

Clarify your selection criteria

Now that you have located schools that offer the degree you want, which ones will meet your needs? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Location
  • Campus demographics
  • Prestige of the institution
  • Cost/financial support
  • Curriculum layout (broad knowledge or specific skill focus)
  • Program format (campus, online, hybrid)
  • Research/project and experiential opportunities available
  • Faculty mentorship
  • Alumni career outcomes
  • Industry and alumni connections