What is the difference between a postgraduate taught master’s and a postgraduate research master’s?

Pgce, mres, ma, msc or phd if you’re considering postgraduate study, use this guide to learn the difference between the kinds of postgraduate degrees on offer.

Richard Carruthers's avatar

Richard Carruthers

Woman standing at a fork in the road

Postgraduate courses come in many formats, ranging from vocational diplomas and certificates through to master’s and doctoral qualifications.

The two most common categories of postgraduate study are postgraduate taught (PGT) courses and postgraduate research (PGR) courses.

As you shop around potential postgraduate courses, you may also come across the PGCE, the LLM, the MRes, the MPhil and the PhD.

But what is the difference between all these acronyms?

Below is a guide explaining the differences between all the postgraduate degrees on offer, including how the application process varies between them.

Postgraduate taught (PGT) courses

Postgraduate taught courses are sometimes called level 7 qualifications and are one of the most common kinds of master’s degrees. When people refer to master’s courses, they usually mean a postgraduate taught course.

These courses are typically one year in duration if studied full-time, or two years if studying part-time.

The course will usually comprise several months of taught classes, much like undergraduate study, followed by an intensive independent research project for the final few months.

These courses have highly specialised content, making them great launchpads for careers where specialist knowledge is required. They are also often used as a stepping stone to more advanced research degrees.

What’s the difference between an MSc and an MA?

Postgraduate taught courses will usually lead to either an MSc or an MA qualification, depending on the subject you choose.

An MSc stands for a “master of science” and will focus on advancing a particular aspect of scientific research across the sciences, engineering, mathematics or a similar field that involves logic, scientific research or numbers.

An MA refers to a “master of arts”, and covers postgraduate taught degrees in the arts and humanities, such as literature, languages, history, cultural studies and some social sciences.

Applying for a postgraduate taught course

To apply for a postgraduate taught course, you will normally be asked to provide transcripts showing your academic performance on your undergraduate degree, a personal statement and a CV.

Your CV should focus on your educational achievements and interests and discuss any project work that shows you have the technical and academic skills needed to be a successful and independent postgraduate student.

Your personal statement can be tackled in a similar way to a cover letter, where you introduce yourself and convey your interest, enthusiasm and motivation to study the subject. It is also advisable to tailor your statement to each course you apply for and to explain your interest in some of the modules offered by that specific course.

It can also be beneficial to demonstrate some thought around where the course will lead you in the future, whether that’s into a new career or towards further study.

With postgraduate taught courses, you often won’t have to submit a research proposal for your research project as part of your application, as the taught elements of the course are meant to help inform your research proposal.

However, some postgraduate master’s courses may ask for you to submit a research proposal or at least have an idea of the topic you want to do your master’s dissertation on, even if this changes later.

Applying to master’s courses is generally done through a decentralised system, meaning you apply individually to each course and university. Each institution will set different entrance and application requirements. Check the exact requirements your course is looking for, and get in touch with the institution’s postgraduate admissions office with any questions.

What are MRes and MPhil degrees?

The MPhil stands for “master of philosophy”. The MRes course option, which is relatively new but has grown in popularity in recent years, stands for a “master of research”.

Much like postgraduate taught courses, both the MPhil and the MRes are technically classified as level 7 qualifications, and typically take one year to complete.

The main difference between an MRes or MPhil and a postgraduate taught course is that MRes and MPhil courses place much more focus on individual research, with as much as 60 per cent to 100 per cent of either degree consisting of a personal research project.

Given the heavy research focus, MRes and MPhil courses tend to contain fewer taught classes, but you will usually receive training in research techniques. As a result of the research focus, an MRes or an MPhil may help prepare a student for a doctoral programme (PGR) or a career that requires specific research skills and techniques.

Applying for an MRes or MPhil course is very similar to applying for a postgraduate taught course, but you may be asked to submit a research proposal as part of your application, so it’s important to have an idea of the kind of research project you would like to pursue.

Doctorate courses

Postgraduate research (PGR) courses are sometimes called level 8 qualifications and usually refer to doctorate courses.

These courses take about three to four years of full-time study to complete, but the exact duration of a doctorate course depends on whether you get involved in teaching, how long your research takes to complete and how long it takes you to write your doctorate thesis.

Successful PhD candidates are awarded doctoral qualifications such as doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of engineering (EngD), depending on their field of research.

Research is the core component of a PhD programme, and you will be expected to produce original work on a specific subject topic, usually in the form of a thesis.

Doctorate qualifications are often a prerequisite for a career as a university academic, researcher or scientist in industry.

Applying for a doctorate (PhD) programme

To apply for a doctorate degree, you’ll need to submit a personal statement and a CV, both providing evidence of your academic experiences and passion for the subject.

Some PhD programmes will expect you to have already completed a postgraduate taught programme, but this isn’t always essential.

For a PhD, you may also be asked to submit a detailed research proposal outlining a specific research question you would like to address, the subject area you will work in, and the approach you would take to solving this.

Your proposal should demonstrate your current knowledge and discuss how your research idea could develop or challenge existing knowledge. You should also mention the potential significance of your research and why it would be a useful contribution to your chosen field.

Usually, you will be expected to apply individually to each PhD programme you’re interested in. Places will usually be dependent on your academic achievements, but also on the funding available in your chosen university department and whether the university can provide an appropriate supervisor.

If you’re considering applying for a PhD, it may be worth contacting academics individually to discuss whether they’d be interested in supervising you and asking about any funding opportunities.

Other postgraduate courses

Aside from the categories discussed above, there are many other classifications of master’s degrees, including postgraduate diplomas and certificates.

Often these lead to a vocational qualification that is used to gain entry to a specific profession.

Examples include the postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), which leads to a career in teaching, the graduate diploma in law (GDL) or master of law (LLM), which opens the door to the legal professions, or the master of business administration (MBA), which is a common choice for business professionals looking to gain entry to C-suite positions.

You may also like

The pros and cons of a three year PhD.

.css-185owts{overflow:hidden;max-height:54px;text-indent:0px;} Is it possible to do a three-year PhD as an international student?

Samiul Hossain

PhD, doctorate

What is a PhD? Advice for PhD students


How do I choose a master's?

Charlie Pullen

Register free and enjoy extra benefits

Calculate for all schools

Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, what is a graduate degree.

I've been hearing a lot about graduate degrees lately but I'm not exactly sure what they entail. Can someone explain the concept of a graduate degree and how it differs from an undergraduate degree?

A graduate degree is an advanced level of education that you can pursue after completing your undergraduate degree (also known as a bachelor's degree). Graduate degrees build upon the knowledge and skills acquired during your undergraduate studies and allow you to specialize in a particular field of study. There are two main types of graduate degrees: master's degrees and doctoral degrees.

A master's degree typically takes 1-2 years to complete and offers more in-depth study in a specific area, such as a Master of Science (MS), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Master of Fine Arts (MFA). These degrees are designed to help you gain advanced skills or expand your knowledge in your chosen field, which can lead to career advancement or increased earning potential.

A doctoral degree, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Education (EdD), or Doctor of Medicine (MD), takes longer to complete, usually around 5-7 years. It is the highest level of academic degree and is focused on original research, advanced study, and academic expertise in a specific area. To earn a doctoral degree, you'll be required to complete extensive research, write a dissertation or thesis, and often defend your findings in front of a faculty committee.

The key difference between an undergraduate and graduate degree lies in the depth and complexity of the coursework, with graduate degrees delving deeper into the subject matter and often involving more research and critical thinking. Additionally, graduate degrees provide specialized knowledge and skills, which can be beneficial for career advancement or a transition to a different field.

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

Northeastern University Graduate Programs

What is a Graduate Degree?

What is a Graduate Degree?

For those considering graduate school , it’s important to take the time to understand what an advanced degree program entails. Read on to learn about the different types of graduate programs, the time commitment, cost, and enrollment conditions required, and what students should expect at this level of advanced study.

An undergraduate degree —either a bachelor’s or associate degree—is considered a baseline educational requirement in many professions. As such, the pursuit of this degree has become commonplace among high school graduates. As of 2018, 69 percent of students chose to complete their undergraduate degree immediately after earning their high school diploma.

A graduate degree —including master’s degrees , doctorates , and PhDs —provides an advanced understanding of a specific topic or field, and demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning that many employers value. Those who choose to enroll in graduate school often do so with a series of focused, career-oriented goals in mind, which sets the stage for a substantially different type of learning environment than one might experience during an undergraduate career.

Interested in earning an advanced degree?

Explore Northeastern’s 200+ programs to find the one that will best help you achieve your goals.


Types of Graduate Degrees

Students embarking on graduate school should begin by determining if an academic or professional degree is right for them.

Students who desire a career in a specific field (such as law, pharmaceuticals, medicine, or education) may opt to pursue a professional degree . These programs emphasize hands-on learning and often require students to obtain substantial real-world experience prior to graduation.

Academic (or research) degrees align with a single, specific area of study or field. Students in pursuit of these degrees are required to develop an in-depth understanding of their subject area and complete a thesis or capstone project to demonstrate their knowledge.

Learn More: Professional Degree Vs. Academic Degree: What’s the Difference?  

Master’s Degree

Although master’s degrees  may be the most common form of graduate study, there are various professional and academic graduate-level degrees that students should consider. Some of the most common include:

  • Master of Arts Degree (MA): An MA is a type of academic master’s degree that correlates most directly with humanities-based subject areas such as communications, teaching, languages, and more. Classes in these programs are primarily discussion-based and might require fieldwork, a thesis, or a capstone project prior to graduation. Some common MA programs include Homeland Security , English , and Elementary Education .
  • Master of Science Degree (MS) : An MS is another type of academic master’s degree which typically correlates with advanced study in fields that relate to science and mathematics. Courses in these programs often require extensive lab work or research and culminate with thesis or capstone projects, as well. Some common MS programs include Cybersecurity , Corporate & Organizational Communication , Leadership , and Project Management . 
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA): An MFA is a professional degree for artists in fields such as graphic design, music, theater, film, and more. Alongside a practical and abstract exploration of their art, graduates of these programs often receive the credentials necessary to teach at the undergraduate level. Some common MFA programs include Information Design & Visualization , Creative Writing, and Acting.
  • Master of Professional Studies (MPS) : An MPS is an interdisciplinary degree focused on a single area of professional study. Unlike MA or MS degrees, these programs are typically more hands-on in nature and require an internship, work-study, or co-op experience prior to graduation. Some common MPS programs include Analytics , Informatics , and Digital Media .

Professional Doctorate

A professional doctorate is focused on the advanced practice of knowledge and skills, making it a degree for those who are more professionally oriented. While these programs also help to develop research skills, the main focus is to apply knowledge to industry to solve new and emerging problems.

  • Juris Doctor (JD): This degree provides students with the practical skills and expansive knowledge needed to practice law in America. While JD programs share some commonalities with other graduate-level law degrees, such as a Master of Legal Studies or a Master of Laws , there are key differences between the three.
  • Doctor of Education (EdD): This is another professional doctorate degree not to be confused with a PhD in Education . This type of program is for educators and professionals who want to direct and implement change within their organizations. These degrees are designed to prepare students to become leaders in their communities.
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD): Students hoping to pursue a career in medicine or surgery pursue this professional doctorate degree.
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) : Individuals pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry must obtain a PharmD. These programs include components of research, teaching, and clinical practice.

Learn More: Why Earn a Professional Doctoral Degree?

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

A PhD is a postgraduate doctoral degree based on extensive research in a given field. Students can earn a PhD in areas such as technology, humanities, social sciences, and more. Individuals who complete their PhDs often pursue a career in academia, though some may continue on to complete similar research for the remainder of their career. Some common PhD programs include Counseling Psychology , Bioengineering , and Pharmacology . PhDs are not to be confused with professional/clinical doctorates , which are designed to provide students with the practical skills needed to excel in their career. 

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Graduate Degree

The timeline for completion of a graduate degree will vary depending on three factors:

  • The type of degree you pursue.
  • Your desired subject area.
  • The specific institution at which you are studying. 

On average, however, those enrolled in a master’s program full-time will likely complete their degree within one-and-a-half to three years. Individuals who pursue their master’s degree part-time might take longer than three years to complete it, depending on how many credits they enroll in each semester.

Most PhD and professional doctoral candidates will finish their degrees in five to six years, though the time commitment may vary depending on the subject area. Some more intensive degree programs, like an MD, can take up to eight years to complete.

Learn More: How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master’s Degree?

Graduate Degree Requirements

Requirements for different graduate programs vary greatly depending on the subject, institution, and whether or not it is a culminating degree. The most common requirement, however, is an undergraduate degree, as this acts as a base for advanced learning.

Other application requirements for specific graduate programs might include:

  • A statement of purpose
  • Your educational transcripts
  • A portfolio of your work
  • Professional/academic recommendations
  • Any additional written assignments

You may also need to take and submit your scores for a subject-specific exam (e.g. LSAT, MCAT, etc.) or for the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) , which is a requirement for many graduate programs globally.

The Cost of A Graduate Degree

The cost of a graduate degree will also vary greatly depending on what program and what institution you are considering. Yet, many people make incorrect assumptions about the price of graduate school based on their knowledge of undergraduate costs.

“Many of us have in our heads the sticker price of $30,000 to $40,000 per year for undergraduate education,” Sean Gallagher , executive director of the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy at Northeastern told U.S. News & Report in 2017. “So we say, ‘OK, it’s two years for a graduate degree, so it’s going to cost me $70,000 to $80,000 or more.’ And while there are certainly programs at that price point, there are many programs where you can get the entire graduate degree for between $20,000 and $40,000.”

No matter the program, graduate school will be both an educational and financial investment in your career. As such, institutions like Northeastern have adopted a variety of financial aid options for students to help hedge the cost of graduate studies. Students can utilize scholarships, grants, and even tuition reimbursement programs through their employers to help pay for their advanced education.

Learn More: Paying for Grad School: Where and How to Start

5 Characteristics of a Strong Graduate Program

#1) flexible learning options.

In most universities, graduate programs are designed to accommodate the needs of working professionals and are thus offered in a variety of exceedingly flexible formats.

Firstly, students at the graduate level can choose to enroll in either a part-time or full-time capacity. A part-time graduate program offers working professionals the opportunity to take on only as many classes as they can handle per semester, and work toward finishing their degree at their own speed. Full-time students, on the other hand, must be enrolled in a specific number of credit hours per semester as determined by the university, and will work toward completing their program in a linear manner. At Northeastern, for example, full-time students must be enrolled in nine quarter hours of graduate credits per semester.

Universities like Northeastern also offer a variety of graduate programs in online , on-ground, and hybrid formats to best fit the needs of any given students. Taking online or hybrid courses is an effective way for students who are already working in their field to balance their coursework with their other professional commitments, as well.

For those who aren’t ready to commit to an entire graduate program, some universities also offer graduate certificates in many in-demand areas of study. Certificate programs provide either a condensed understanding of basic advanced principles as they relate to an area of study, or a very niche look at a specific aspect of the subject. Though the amount of knowledge attained in a certificate program is vastly less than that of a full graduate degree, some prefer this condensed format of study for its reduced cost and shorter time commitment.

#2) A Focused Curriculum 

By the time a student reaches graduate school, they are likely no longer in the exploring phase of their education. Instead, these students have often experienced life as a working professional, determined which area of study best aligns with their passions, and have made the educated decision to become an expert on that topic through the pursuit of a graduate degree.

For this reason, many graduate programs offer students a far more unified educational experience than at the undergraduate level. Often, this will be reflected in a common curriculum that all students within a single program must follow. While they may still be able to pick the specific topics that most interest them off this predetermined list of classes, each course will relate back to their base area of study. This is done in an effort to give students a much more in-depth exploration of that specific topic rather than a surface-level understanding of many, unrelated ones.

Students in graduate school still have the opportunity to customize their education to best fit their needs, however. In fact, programs like those at Northeastern recognize that one of the most impactful offerings they can give their students is the chance to declare a concentration within their degree and tailor their studies in a way that aligns with their professional aspirations.

#3) Opportunities for Hands-On Learning

Northeastern University is known for its emphasis on experiential learning at all phases of a student’s educational journey, offering opportunities for real-world, hands-on learning through internships, work-study, co-ops, and more. There are also a variety of graduate-specific experiential learning opportunities for students, such as Northeastern’s Experiential Network (XN) initiative.

A Closer Look: Northeastern’s XN initiative offers students the opportunity to participate in six-week-long, virtual projects for active organizations within the university’s expansive network. These projects align with students’ academic work, allowing them to apply what they learn in the classroom to these real-world scenarios. Following the format of gig-economy work experiences, students spend 30-40 hours on each project and, in that time, practice making decisions and completing work that will have a genuine impact on these organizations’ success.

In general, graduate degrees tend to be research- or capstone-oriented in nature, meaning that, depending on a student’s area of study, they will be frequently honing their practical abilities alongside their theoretical skills. Graduate programs emphasize this type of learning in an effort to develop well-rounded professionals in each field. These hands-on learning opportunities also offer students unparalleled exposure to different facets of their industry—as well as different types of workplaces—which can then be used to help them make an educated employment decision after graduation.

#4) An Industry-Aligned Network

Students have a unique advantage when it comes to networking in grad school . Between the opportunities to make connections in the classroom, at university-hosted events, and even in the professional world through hands-on learning experiences, these students are in the ideal setting to build their network.

Connecting with Classmates

Your classmates in grad school will likely be equally as driven and passionate about the exact same area of study as you are. You will also have the opportunity to grow together throughout your time in the program, resulting in a slew of common experiences and relationships that will help to keep you connected with and looking out for one another throughout your career. Although they may start out as your classmates, these individuals have the potential to become powerful players in the professional industry post-graduation, as well.

Connecting with Professors

Smaller class sizes and a more collaborative learning environment allow students to develop more personal connections with their professors during grad school than in their undergraduate studies. These relationships can be some of the most important in regards to your career, as professors at top universities like Northeastern are industry leaders and have connections that can be used to make introductions or open doors to potential employment opportunities after graduation.

Connecting with Industry Professionals

Given the emphasis on hands-on learning in grad school, students have the chance to develop their professional networks in their region and with organizations that they may be able to work with post-graduation. Having these types of industry-aligned connections is vital in today’s competitive job market, especially since a connection that has worked with you first-hand in a professional environment can speak to your qualifications in a far more concrete and impactful way than those who are only able to speak to your abilities abstractly.

Students who take the time to develop their professional network while in graduate school — whether online or on-ground —have the potential to see the positive impact of those connections for the remainder of their professional career.

#5) Substantial Impact on Your Career 

Many students pursue graduate degrees to advance their careers. Whether that means getting a promotion, increasing their current salary, or even transitioning fields, these students are looking to make a positive change by showing employers the extent of their knowledge, network, and exposure to experiential learning.

While these goals are often achieved during the pursuit of a graduate degree, students’ careers can be impacted by graduate study in more ways than one. The overall career outlook for graduate degree holders, for instance, is incredibly positive compared to those with only a bachelor’s or associate degree.

For example, the current jobless rate for individuals with a master’s degree or higher is 12.5 percent lower than those who only hold a bachelor’s degree. Similarly, in regard to salary, those with a graduate degree earn 28 percent more than those with just an undergraduate degree on average. These individuals will also make over a million dollars more than those with just a high school diploma in their lifetime.

What’s more, graduates of advanced degree programs are some of the most in-demand within organizations today. When it comes to applying for a new role, 61 percent of employers are finding that the skills required for their open positions have evolved to require a higher education among applicants. By 2022, it is also expected that 18 percent of all jobs will require a graduate degree. Earning an advanced degree will help improve your skills and demonstrate your commitment to career development—two of the best ways to stand out in today’s competitive job market .

Explore Your Options at Northeastern

Ready to take the leap? Consider advancing your career with a graduate degree from Northeastern, a top-40 university . Evaluate the personal and professional benefits of a graduate degree, then explore Northeastern’s 200+ master’s , doctorate , and certificate programs to find the one that best aligns with your career goals.

Browse the Grad School Tips & Advice category of the Northeastern Graduate blog for more content like this from Northeastern University Graduate Programs .

Explore Northeastern's 200+ Graduate Programs

Subscribe below to receive future content from the Graduate Programs Blog.

About shayna joubert, related articles.

Why Earn a Professional Doctoral Degree?

Why Earn a Professional Doctoral Degree?

5 Tips to Get the Most out of Grad School

5 Tips to Get the Most out of Grad School

Is Earning a Graduate Certificate Worth It?

Is Earning a Graduate Certificate Worth It?

Did you know.

Advanced degree holders earn a salary an average 25% higher than bachelor's degree holders. (Economic Policy Institute, 2021)

Northeastern University Graduate Programs

Explore our 200+ industry-aligned graduate degree and certificate programs.

Most Popular:

Tips for taking online classes: 8 strategies for success, public health careers: what can you do with an mph, 7 international business careers that are in high demand, edd vs. phd in education: what’s the difference, 7 must-have skills for data analysts, in-demand biotechnology careers shaping our future, the benefits of online learning: 8 advantages of online degrees, how to write a statement of purpose for graduate school, the best of our graduate blog—right to your inbox.

Stay up to date on our latest posts and university events. Plus receive relevant career tips and grad school advice.

By providing us with your email, you agree to the terms of our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Keep Reading:

what is a graduate coursework

Should I Go To Grad School: 4 Questions to Consider

what is a graduate coursework

Grad School or Work? How to Balance Both

what is a graduate coursework

7 Networking Tips for Graduate Students 

The Gradcafe

  • Majors & Careers
  • Online Grad School
  • Preparing For Grad School
  • Student Life

What is Graduate School? The Ultimate Guide

The GradCafe Editor

Everyone seems to be going to grad school these days. In today’s hyper-competitive job market, an undergraduate degree is often no longer enough, and you’ll need an advanced degree to pursue the career of your dreams.

So what is graduate school exactly? And what do you need to know before choosing a grad course and putting in your application?

Table of Contents

What is Graduate School?

Graduate programs are offered as advanced courses at many universities, as well as dedicated graduate colleges. Before we dive deeper into what is graduate school, let’s first be clear on what a graduate program is.  

W hat is a Graduate Program?

In simple terms, a grad program offers a focused, advanced level of study in a specific professional or academic discipline.

You’ll need to fulfill certain requirements to successfully apply for a graduate program. In most cases , you’ll need to first complete a bachelor’s degree before you can go to grad school. 

Some grad courses have a specific degree as a prerequisite. For example, for a doctorate, you’ll generally need to first complete a master’s degree in that discipline.

 what is grad school

Different Graduate Programs

The term “graduate school” can cover different types of courses and a wide array of subjects. 

The main types of graduate programs are:

  • Doctorates (also known as PhDs or doctoral degrees) – This is the most advanced type of degree possible and can be undertaken in any academic discipline.
  • Master’s degrees – An advanced degree usually lasting two years, which is either designed to lead to a doctorate or as a terminal degree for a particular profession. As with a PhD, a masters can also be in a range of academic disciplines, including a Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Business Administration (MBA), among many others.
  • Professional degrees – These give you the specialist knowledge and skills you need to become a professional in a particular field, such as law or medicine .

How Long is Graduate School?

Graduate degrees vary in length depending on the course, but doctorates are by far the longest. Completing a PhD usually takes between five and seven years, and can take up to eight years. According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics , the median time that students took to finish a doctorate was 5.8 years in 2019.

On the other hand:

  • Most law school programs last for three years, with some accelerated two-year courses.
  • Business school generally lasts two years, with some one-year accelerated programs available.
  • Medical school, dental school, and pharmacy school all take four years, not including residency which doctors must complete after graduation.

How Much Does Grad School Cost?

The cost of grad school can vary widely depending on what course you choose, and whether you choose a public or private institution. According to moneyunder30 , the average tuition for a master’s degree is around $30,000 a year at a public university and $40,000 a year at a private institution. Some courses can be significantly more expensive, though you can apply for grants or financial aid to make the fees more affordable.

Is Grad School Right for Me?

The truth is that grad school simply isn’t for everyone. Although there are many advantages of grad school, it does involve a significant investment of both time and money. It’s important to carefully consider the below factors before deciding to sign up for a graduate program.

Benefits of Going to Grad School

So you have an idea of what graduate school is, but why would you want to go to grad school?

Many people choose a graduate program because the qualification is essential for their career. For example, if you want to become a doctor or a lawyer, you’ll need to go to grad school. Similarly, if you’re interested in becoming an academic, you’re unlikely to be successful if you don’t have a PhD.

Besides advancing your career, attending graduate school has a number of other benefits:

  • It allows you to develop high-level research, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
  • It gives you excellent networking opportunities that will help you to advance your career.
  • Even if not strictly necessary for your chosen career, a graduate degree may give you better opportunities for advancement and higher salaries.
  • You’ll be able to pursue your passion about a particular subject.
  • There are many part-time and online grad courses that you can balance with your work commitments, and your employer may sponsor you to gain a relevant qualification.

What’s the difference between grad school and college?

Besides the type of degree that you’ll study at graduate school, there are some other key differences between grad school and college.

The meaning of grad school is that the students are typically already graduates – most graduate programs have a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite. This has certain implications. Firstly, your professors will expect you to meet higher academic standards than they did during your undergraduate degree. Grad school is not just about learning facts and repeating them in exams or papers. Instead, you will be expected to do your own research and come up with your own ideas and theories.

Graduate studies are also more focused. As part of a bachelor’s course, you usually take classes in a range of disciplines to gain entry-level knowledge on many subjects. Grad school is the time to concentrate on one particular topic and dig into it to a much deeper level. This means that you should already be pretty sure of the career you want to pursue, while college allows you to try different things out and explore different study and career options. On the other hand, at grad school you will become an expert in your field of choice.

Finally, graduate schools are typically smaller and more selective than undergraduate colleges. On the upside, you will be part of a smaller, higher-quality cohort of students. This allows for more student interaction, as well as closer attention from your professionals and tutors. However, this also makes grad school generally more difficult to get into compared to college.

What’s the difference between graduate school and professional school?

Graduate courses can be broken down into two main classifications – academic and professional. 

Broadly speaking, for an academic graduate program you will need to create an original and in-depth piece of research. 

On the other hand, professional courses are all about learning the specific skills and knowledge you’ll need for a certain profession. These programs often include work experience such as internships or placements. Some graduate programs are a combination of academic and professional approaches.

Academic disciplines include:

  • Sciences, such as chemistry, physics, and biology
  • Social sciences, such as psychology , sociology, and anthropology
  • The humanities, such as history , art, and languages

Professional disciplines include:

Essentially, a professional school is a type of grad school. However, some people make the distinction between the two, classifying only advanced academic studies as graduate school, and the rest as professional school. It’s really only a question of terminology – both are advanced courses which share a number of characteristics and advantages!

How to Prepare for Graduate School

Once you’ve decided that grad school is the way you want to go, you’ll need to choose where you want to study. More importantly, you’ll need to put in an application and have it accepted!

How to Choose the Right Graduate School for You

There is a huge range of different graduate courses and programs available, so how do you choose the right one for you? These questions should help you to narrow down your search and find a grad school that will give you the skills, knowledge, and qualifications you need to build your dream career.

What is the school’s reputation?

Choosing a grad school with a strong reputation is critically important. Not only does a good reputation reflect a high standard of teaching and facilities, but your qualification will be highly regarded by future employers. Before deciding on a grad school, be sure to do some research into their reputation.

Public versus private school

Public graduate schools receive public funding so are generally much cheaper than private schools, which rely on tuition fees to run. However, this is not a hard and fast rule – some private schools can be cheaper than certain public schools.

How big is the school?

Private schools typically have smaller class sizes, meaning you’ll get more attention for your professors and build relationships with other students. On the other hand, larger schools can offer better networking opportunities.

Do you want an academic or professional grad course?

Whether you choose a professional or academic graduate course will depend largely on the future career you want. However, you should also consider the way these courses are run. Academic graduate courses usually involve a high degree of research, and often you’ll need to create an in-depth dissertation.

On the other hand, professional grad courses focus more on skill building and typically include a work experience component. Think about which style of learning you prefer, and which is more likely to make you successful.

How to Apply for Grad School

Graduate programs are smaller and more selective than their undergraduate counterparts, and therefore look for a higher level of applicant. Of course, applying for an undergraduate course at Harvard or Stanford will be tougher than some grad schools. However, generally speaking you will have to work harder on your grad school application than did for your undergraduate course.

Applying for grad school usually requires:

  • A competitive admissions test or entry exam
  • A strong academic record demonstrated through excellent academic transcripts
  • Recommendations from academic or professional referees
  • Writing a statement of purpose showing why you want to take the course
  • An application fee (in addition to the course fees)

The exact requirements will depend on the course and the institution you choose. Some grad schools will also ask for a sample of your academic writing, an example of project work, your portfolio, or your resume/CV. Be sure to check these with the grad school you want to apply to, and give yourself plenty of time to get your application together ahead of the deadline!

In fact, you should give yourself at least one academic year to research graduate courses and pull together everything you’ll need for your application. So if you want to go straight from college to grad school, it’s a good idea to start this process at the end of your junior year.

Final Thoughts

We hope you now have all the answers to the question: “what is graduate school?” and how to make the best decisions to set yourself up for a brighter future. 

Although going to grad school is not for everyone, it can provide you with invaluable skills, in-depth knowledge, and qualifications — and lets you pursue your dream career!

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our top tips for getting into Ivy League grad school and our guide on how many grad schools you should apply to .

' src=

The GradCafe Editor

  • The GradCafe Editor https://blog.thegradcafe.com/author/admin/ Cracking the Code: Expert Digital Interviewing Tips
  • The GradCafe Editor https://blog.thegradcafe.com/author/admin/ TheGradCafe and Jobbio join forces to connect top talent with great companies
  • The GradCafe Editor https://blog.thegradcafe.com/author/admin/ How To Get Into Harvard Medical School
  • The GradCafe Editor https://blog.thegradcafe.com/author/admin/ How To Get Into Yale: The Ultimate Guide

How to Get Into Stanford: The Ultimate Guide

When to apply for grad school: easy monthly timeline [2024-2025], related posts.

Our data shows just how selective Yale's grad programs have become.

  • Breaking Records: Yale Sees Most Selective Grad Admissions Season Yet

What's the best computer for computer science grad students?

  • 12 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students

This article shows why a master's degree is still worth the cost.

  • Is a Master’s Degree Worth It? [2024 Guide]

Graduate Certificate vs Degree: What’s the Difference? [2024 Guide]

Graduate Certificate vs Degree: What’s the Difference? [2024 Guide]

ACBSP Vs AACSB: Which Business Program Accreditations is Better?

ACBSP Vs AACSB: Which Business Program Accreditations is Better?

What is a Good GRE Score?

What is a Good GRE Score?

When to Apply for Grad School: The Simple Guide [2021/2022]

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Recent Posts

  • Grad Trends: Interest in Artificial Intelligence Surges
  • Applying to Big Tech This Year? Here’s How to Ace It.

The Gradcafe

© 2023 TheGradCafe.com All rights reserved

  • Partner With Us
  • Results Search
  • Submit Your Results
  • Write For Us

What Is Graduate School and Should You Apply?

The purpose of graduate school is to develop expertise in a specific academic subject.

What Grad School Is and Why You Might Go

Group of multiracial people in college campus studying  together

Getty Images

College alumni who excelled throughout their undergraduate experience often possess a love of learning that can make them a good fit for a graduate program, higher education experts say.

Graduate school students need to meet a higher academic standard than undergraduates, experts say. To thrive in a graduate program, they also need purpose, focus and passion.

"Grad school is a lot more focused and specialized than college," Michelle Vakman, director of admissions at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies in New York, wrote in an email. "Students don't often change majors, and classes are targeted toward a specific field or area of study."

Grad programs appeal to students who are fascinated by a specific academic subject and committed to working in a field where a graduate degree is valuable, experts explain.

"The main difference between undergrad and grad school is that the student has an opportunity to focus on the subjects he (or) she enjoys the most," Helen Godfrey, a senior career development specialist at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business who has a master's degree in counseling, wrote in an email. "The coursework is more intense but the student will find that he (or) she really enjoys the topics so it can be an invigorating challenge."

Graduate students are expected to not only absorb information and gain knowledge, but also to conduct their own research, make unique discoveries and produce compelling scholarship, says Tamara Underiner, an associate dean for professional development and engagement at the Arizona State University Graduate College.

"In college you acquire knowledge," Underiner wrote in an email. "As you progress through the levels of higher education, you master and then become the producer of knowledge. It's this growing sense of agency, accompanied by experience, that allows wisdom to grow."

Should You Go to Grad School? How to Decide

Although this type of advanced education can be fulfilling and valuable, it is not appropriate for everyone.

"If a student is not sure what they want to do, graduate school is probably not a wise idea, because it does not provide opportunities for career exploration like the bachelor’s degree does," Jillene Seiver, a senior lecturer in psychology and an associate chair in the school of psychology at Eastern Washington University , wrote in an email.

What a Fellowship Is and Why It Matters

Ilana Kowarski Nov. 18, 2022

College student researches fellowships on her tablet

People who found the academic workload of bachelor's degree courses to be extremely challenging may not be prepared to handle the rigors of grad school. But college alumni who excelled throughout their undergraduate experience often possess a love of learning that can make them a good fit for a graduate program, higher education experts say.

However, even individuals who thrived in college ought to reflect on whether a graduate credential will help them in their career before applying to graduate school, according to experts.

What's key for success in grad school is a sense of purpose, says Jody Britten, a co-founder at SheLeadsEdu, an organization that provides career advice and training to women working in the education sector.

Grad school students are most successful "when they know what they are very passionate about ... . If they're going to grad school because they feel like they need to go to grad school or they don't know what they're going to do or they just want a pay raise, that's when it doesn't pay off," says Britten, who has a Ph.D. in education. "That's when we don't see them completing their degree."

What Are the Different Types of Graduate Programs?

There are numerous graduate credentials, including some that can be obtained quickly and others that require substantial time.

Universities sometimes offer short, nondegree postbaccalaureate certificates and diplomas that can be completed within a few months. In contrast, master's programs last for at least one academic year while doctoral programs generally require multiple years of study.

A master's education builds on the knowledge gained via a bachelor's. A master's degree typically precedes a doctoral degree, since the latter is ordinarily the most advanced credential available within an academic discipline.

There are two types of doctorates. Applied doctorates focus on using existing knowledge to solve real-world problems and prepare future industry leaders. Research doctorates address open questions within a particular academic discipline and train future scholars.

"Graduate school can mean many things," Pierre Huguet, CEO of the H&C Education admissions consulting firm, wrote in an email. "There's a big difference between starting an M.S. or M.A. program, going to law or business school and embarking on the five- to seven-year journey that is a Ph.D."

Here are a few examples of graduate degrees and how long full-time programs typically last:

  • Master of Science, or M.S., degree: one to two years
  • Master of Arts, or M.A., degree: one to two years
  • Master of Business Administration, or MBA, degree: two years
  • Master of Fine Arts, or MFA, degree: two to three years
  • Juris Doctor, or J.D., degree: three years
  • Doctor of Medicine, or M.D., degree: four years
  • Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D. degree: six years

The word "terminal" is sometimes used to describe degrees, but the meaning of the term depends on the context. Generally speaking, terminal refers to a degree that indicates mastery of a particular subject, which is typically the most advanced academic qualification available in a field. Although experts sometimes disagree about which degrees fall into this category, there is consensus around the idea that doctorates qualify. Sometimes, though, when a degree is described as "terminal," it is simply because that degree is or could conceivably become the final step in a student's educational journey.

Grad School and the Job Market

A graduate degree is mandatory or highly beneficial for certain careers .

"If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, for example, you will need to continue your education past college," says Huguet. "Additionally, certain post-graduate programs, such as MBAs , often provide students with important networking opportunities that can be as important professionally as the education students receive at business school. If you want to go into academia or conduct advanced research, you will most likely need a Ph.D."

However, grad school isn't necessarily ideal for "natural entrepreneurs," Huguet says. "I know many students who founded successful businesses while in college, and chose to work for themselves full-time after graduating. For these kinds of individuals, I believe graduate degrees ... are a waste of time and money."

Prospective grad students should think carefully about their career goals before applying to grad schools, Huguet recommends. "Begin by asking yourself what kind of career you’d like to pursue, and then do some research to see what kinds of degrees are necessary for your dream job. In some cases, advanced degrees are not necessary, but can lead to higher salaries and better positions."

Prospective doctoral students should also assess the job market within their potential field of study.

"A Ph.D. in biology may lead to more options down the road than a Ph.D. in German Literature, for example," Huguet says. "If your goal is to teach German at the college level, go for the Ph.D., but understand that your degree may not be particularly useful outside of academia."

How Does Graduate School Compare to College?

A common misconception about graduate school is that it is similar to college. But higher education experts say that graduate courses tend to involve more self-directed learning than undergraduate courses.

"Too often, college students or people who only have had a college experience somehow think that graduate school is going to be more of the same, and it's not," says Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California and an adjunct faculty member at the California-based Stanford University. "It's going to look very different. So students might be tired of sitting in small plastic seats in large lecture halls and listening to professors drone on and then taking tests and things like that, and they don't realize that often graduate school is not that way at all."

Plante says graduate courses tend to involve small classes as opposed to large lectures, and grad students typically engage in academic research outside of the classroom.

Luz Claudio, a professor in the environmental medicine and public health department of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, says graduate school typically requires significant motivation and personal accountability, since students frequently work independently.

"There's generally no 'homework,' quizzes and few exams in most graduate programs," Claudio wrote in an email. "So students need to learn to be motivated to study because they want to learn instead of being motivated by the threat of exams or grades."

Many graduate programs require students to create and submit a faculty-approved dissertation, portfolio or thesis in order to qualify for a degree.

"In the graduate school setting, the teacher becomes more like a mentor and the student is more like an apprentice," Claudio says.

Searching for a grad school? Access our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.

10 Steps to Tackle a Low GRE Score

Frustrated young man looking exhausted while sitting at his working place and carrying his glasses in hand

Tags: graduate schools , education , students

You May Also Like

Get accepted to multiple top b-schools.

Anayat Durrani May 16, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Premeds and Emerging Medical Research

Zach Grimmett May 14, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

How to Get a Perfect Score on the LSAT

Gabriel Kuris May 13, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Premeds Take 5 Public Health Courses

Rachel Rizal May 7, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Fortune 500 CEOs With a Law Degree

Cole Claybourn May 7, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Why It's Hard to Get Into Med School

A.R. Cabral May 6, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Pros, Cons of Unaccredited Law Schools

Gabriel Kuris May 6, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

An MBA and Management Consulting

Sammy Allen May 2, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Med School Access for Minority Students

Cole Claybourn May 2, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Different jobs with med degree

Jarek Rutz April 30, 2024

what is a graduate coursework

Graduate Certificate vs. Master’s Degree: What’s the Difference?

Learn the similarities and differences between these two postgraduate academic credentials.

Mary Sharp Emerson

Adding a postgraduate credential like a master’s degree or a graduate certificate to your resume can be a great way to advance your career. It might even be a stepping stone on the pathway to an exciting career change. 

Knowing which credential to choose, however, can be challenging.

A master’s degree and a graduate certificate can both be valuable. They have many similarities. But they are not interchangeable. 

Understanding the differences between them before you go back to school can help ensure that you choose the right one.

What is a Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is an academic postgraduate credential designed to help you build broad, foundational expertise in a specific field or discipline. Completing a master’s usually (although not always) requires several years of coursework and a thesis or capstone project.

Master’s degrees are offered by a university or other accredited academic institution. To earn your master’s degree, you’ll have to successfully complete a set number of credit hours. 

Most master’s degree programs require 10-12 courses. To earn many of the master’s degrees at Harvard Extension School, for example, you’ll have to earn a B or higher in 12 courses (48 credits). However, each master’s degree program will define its requirements slightly differently. 

Depending on the specific program, you will likely have to complete several required courses. You’ll also have the option to tailor your program by choosing electives in areas of special interest to you.

You may also be required to complete a research or capstone project or a thesis. This project will allow you to customize your program even more, as well as further demonstrate expertise in a specialized area. 

Some master’s degree programs require a full-time, on-campus commitment. Many master’s degree programs today, however, can be completed part time (often partially or fully online). Although this takes longer than attending full time, you can continue to work while earning your degree.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a master’s degree program .

Explore master’s degree programs at Harvard Extension School.

What is a Graduate Certificate?

Similar to a master’s degree, a graduate certificate is a credit-based academic credential offered by a university. However, a graduate certificate is more narrowly focused on a specialized field than a master’s degree.

Graduate certificates are a significantly smaller investment in time and money than a master’s. They usually require completion of between three and five graduate-level courses. Most graduate certificates at Harvard Extension require four courses, for example.

You can earn a graduate certificate as a stand-alone credential. Although a graduate certificate is not an academic degree, you may be able to stack your certificate coursework toward a master’s degree.

You can find graduate certificates in a wide range of fields. Technical certificate topics include cybersecurity and data science , for instance. 

If you’re in management, you may want to supplement your corporate knowledge with a certificate in nonprofit or strategic management . Or you may want to improve your leadership skills with a graduate certificate in social justice or equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging . 

Most graduate certificates can be completed part time. Many offer a variety of class formats, including asynchronous or synchronous online courses and in-person courses. 

Explore Graduate Certificates at Harvard Extension School.

How is a graduate certificate different from a professional certification?

A graduate certificate is not the same as a professional or industry certification.

A professional certification is a nonacademic credential awarded by a professional or industry organization. Earning a professional certification usually requires passing a test or exam demonstrating knowledge of a set of skills or a specific tool. You may need to take a class or complete coursework to pass the exam. 

For example, to earn a Project Management Graduate Certificate at Harvard Extension School, you have to earn at least a B in four graduate-level courses in management, leadership, and strategy. To earn a Project Management Professional Certification , offered by the PMI Institute, you have to meet the PMI Institute qualification requirements and pass the PMP exam. 

Graduate Certificate vs. Master’s: What Are the Key Differences?

Understanding the key differences between a graduate certificate and a master’s degree is the first step in choosing between these two credentials. 

Here are some points of comparison that may help guide your decision-making process:

  • Required number of courses: Graduate certificates usually require significantly fewer courses than a master’s degree. At Harvard Extension School, for instance, most graduate certificates require four courses. Most master’s programs require 10 to 12 courses. 
  • Degree of specialization : A master’s degree is designed to give you broad and deep knowledge in a field. A graduate certificate is more narrowly focused; you can build specialized skills in an area. For example, you could earn a master’s degree in sustainability and a graduate certificate in sustainable food systems. 
  • Level of commitment : Graduate certificates are designed with the working professional in mind. Most certificates can be completed online, with flexible live or on-demand class offerings. Master’s degree programs vary significantly in their flexibility and the extent to which they tailor to working professionals. Some master’s degrees, for example, may be fully in person or may require that a percentage of your classes be taken on campus.
  • Cost and financial aid : Graduate certificates cost less to complete than master’s degree programs because you are required to complete fewer credits. However, once you are enrolled in a master’s degree program, you may be eligible for federal and state student loans and grants. Students working toward a certificate are not eligible for student loans, although private loans and employer tuition assistance may still be an option. 
  • Admissions process : Starting a certificate may have fewer admissions requirements than enrolling in a master’s degree program. You may be able to complete a certificate simply by taking (and passing) the appropriate classes. The admissions process for a master’s degree program varies greatly. Some master’s degree programs, for example, require a formal application process. To begin the admissions process at Harvard Extension School, on the other hand, you first successfully complete a set number of courses in the master’s degree course of study. 

Graduate Certificate vs. Master’s: Which is Best for Me?

When it comes to choosing a graduate certificate or master’s degree, there’s no right or wrong choice. 

Both credentials—when earned from a reputable, accredited university—demonstrate advanced skills and knowledge in your field. And they also demonstrate your ability and commitment to lifelong learning, a trait highly valued by many employers.

Your choice will depend on the skills you hope to gain, your unique career goals, and the level of commitment—both in time and in money—you can make to a graduate program.

Benefits of a Graduate Certificate

A graduate certificate may be most valuable for individuals who want to fill a gap in your skillset or deepen your understanding of a topic area that relates to your work. A graduate certificate might also be best for you if you find yourself unable to commit to the time or cost that it would take to complete a master’s program. Graduate certificates are a great option for students seeking to continue their education while working full time.

Benefits of a Master’s Degree

A master’s degree demonstrates a broader, more advanced breadth of knowledge across a particular field. The knowledge and skills you gain from a master’s program may be transferable across multiple career paths. While it may take longer and cost more to earn your master’s degree, the long-term benefits should make the hard work and commitment worth it.

Stacking Your Credentials

In some cases, you may find you don’t have to choose. At Harvard Extension School, for instance, the courses you take to earn a certificate may also apply to a master’s degree program. Many graduate students complete one or more graduate certificates while completing a master’s degree.

Going back to school is a big decision — one that can have a critical impact on your career. The good news is that there are many options and opportunities for continuing your education. Whether you choose a graduate certificate or a master’s, both can be an excellent investment in your future.

Ready to get started? Find the program that’s right for you.

Browse all graduate programs at Harvard Extension School.

About the Author

Digital Content Producer

Emerson is a Digital Content Producer at Harvard DCE. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and Yale University and started her career as an international affairs analyst. She is an avid triathlete and has completed three Ironman triathlons, as well as the Boston Marathon.

Corporate Finance Career Path: How to Keep Your Growth on Track

Interested in a career in corporate finance? Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Harvard Division of Continuing Education

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) at Harvard University is dedicated to bringing rigorous academics and innovative teaching capabilities to those seeking to improve their lives through education. We make Harvard education accessible to lifelong learners from high school to retirement.

Harvard Division of Continuing Education Logo

  • Search UNH.edu
  • Search Continuing Education

Commonly Searched Items:

  • Academic Programs
  • Micro-Credentials
  • Professional Development
  • University Coursework
  • Challenging Academically Talented Students (CATS) Program
  • Learning Pathways
  • Take a Course
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Find a Credential
  • For Learners- How it works
  • Glossary of Terms
  • About CALLI
  • UNH Employee Information

Graduate Coursework

Whether you’re looking to acquire new skills for your current role or to change paths, earning a graduate degree or certificate is an effective way to accelerate your career. With more than 130 programs at the master's, certificate and doctoral levels across three campuses and online, the UNH Graduate School leads the way in inspiring and preparing today's rising stars to become tomorrow's successful leaders.

Explore Graduate School Programs

UNH Continuing Education works with adults with a variety of educational needs:

  • who desire to take a few courses for career development;
  • who plan eventually to enter graduate or professional school;
  • who seek courses to complete degree programs from other institutions;
  • who wish to resume study towards a graduate degree;

Campus Directories & Resources

A-Z Campus Resources

Note: not all resources are available to non-degree students.

Campus Directories

Courseload Policy

Graduate courseload policy, fall and spring.

Individuals not enrolled in a degree program may register for a maximum of 8 credits. Registering for 9 or more credits requires special permission. Please note special permission is not required to exceed the 8 credit limit during the summer.

Full-Time Special Student Status - Graduate Coursework (9 or more credits)

Individuals who hold at least a baccalaureate degree and are not enrolled in a UNH degree program must receive permission from The Graduate School to register for 9 or more graduate level credits during the fall or spring. Students approved for this full-time special status must pay full graduate tuition and fees at the time of registration. Graduate students enrolling exclusively in undergraduate courses pay undergraduate tuition rates.

Summer Session

No credit limit and tuition is charged by the credit hour.

January Term

Due to the intensive format of January Term, ALL students are limited to registering for one* course and a maximum of 4 credits. *One Course Exception: Students may register for more than one course provided the courses DO NOT meet concurrently and the total credits DO NOT exceed the 4 credit maximum.

Eligibility Requirements

To take a course for credit (that is, for a grade) you do not need to apply for admission. UNH does require students registering for Graduate courses (numbered 800-999) to meet several eligibility requirements.

Eligibility requirements: graduate coursework

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Graduate coursework is advanced study and presumes completion of adequate preparation at the undergraduate level in the same or allied field in which the student wishes to pursue graduate coursework.
  • Successful completion of all course prerequisites
  • Not currently under disciplinary sanctions from UNH/UNH-M, another college or university, or court-ordered probation or other sanctions.

*The University reserves the right to restrict registration to those who cannot demonstrate the completion of the above requirements and to bar registration or withdraw a student who upon request fails to provide proper documentation or who demonstrates unacceptable performance once enrolled.

Financial Assistance

Various forms of financial assistance are available to non-degree students enrolled in credit courses.  Information about alternative loan options is available at the UNH Durham Financial Aid and UNH Manchester Financial Aid websites.

Important Dates & Deadlines

Complete dates and deadlines for add/drop, refunds, registration, withdrawal, and more can be found on the University Master Academic Calendar .

Policies- Academic, Student, FERPA, University

As a non-degree student, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that govern the university of new hampshire..

  • Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities (Includes policies related to student code of conduct, academic, drugs/alcohol, administrative and more.)
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • USNH Policy Manual - UNH
  • Non-degree students are not permitted to register for internships through UNH unless they are enrolled in a graduate certificate program.

Programs- Graduate

Degree-seeking students.

A number of Continuing Education students intend to complete their graduate degree at UNH. More information about programs and admission is available from the Graduate School.


Registrations are processed by the office of the registrar..

Business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, except holidays.

ID Cards: Students registered for coursework may request an ID card through the ID Office. Please email [email protected] , include your name, UNH ID number and indicate you are a non-degree student.

How to Register

Payment in full (tuition & fees) is due at the time of registration. Non-payment will result in being dropped from coursework.

Returning Non-Degree Students

MyUNH account holders register online. Login help: UNH IT Service Desk (603) 862-4242 or visit MyAccount

Step by Step:

1. Go to MyUNH, and login. 2. Select WEBCAT and login. 3. Select Registration. 4. Select Add/Drop Courses. 5. Select a Term from drop down and Submit. 6. Enter CRNs (the five digit course reference number) for the courses at the bottom of the page, or select Class Search to find classes which are open. 7. Select Submit Changes. 8. Select Complete when finished. 9. Submit payment as directed online. 10. For a printout of your schedule; choose Printable Schedule. Type in the date for the first full week of classes.

New Non-Degree Students

  • Email : Please send a completed non-degree registration form to [email protected] . Forms will only be accepted if non-degree registration has started. Please see the Master Calendar for a comprehensive list of registration dates.
  • In-Person : Office of the Registrar, Stoke Hall Room 180, 11 Garrison Avenue, Durham, NH 03824-3511

NH Senior Citizen Tuition Waiver - Registration

Please refer to the above "How to Register" section for registration instructions. Registration begins on the first day of non-degree registration each semester. Complete the following steps prior to registering:

  • Provide a copy of NH State Driver’s License and a completed Waiver Agreement Form to Business Services .
  • Check the course schedule for additional permissions required prior to registration. This information will be listed in the course description.
  • Students interesting in auditing must complete an Audit Form (instructor signature required).

Additional Information

  • Registration is on a space-available basis.
  • Prospective students must be 65 years of age as of the first day of the course.
  • Waivers will only be granted at the time of registration (not retroactively).
  • Non-credit courses, workshops, etc. are not covered by the tuition waiver.

* Certain credit-bearing courses offered at UNH but administered by other institutions – such as Isles of Shoals and Library Science courses – are not covered by the tuition waiver

Tuition & Fees

Tuition and Fee rates are available on the Business Services website .

All non-degree students who register for credit courses are subject to mandatory registration, student services, technology and any special course fees.

NH senior citizen tuition waiver

New Hampshire residents who are age 65 or older and are not enrolled in a degree program are eligible to take a maximum of two credit-bearing courses* per fiscal year (Summer Session/Fall/January Term/Spring) tuition-free. Students are responsible for all other costs of attendance, including fees. See registration section for instructions about how to register.

Transcript Requests

Transcript requests are processed by the  Office of the Registrar.

Continuing Education

  • Review Committee

University of New Hampshire Shield Logo

  • Sustainability
  • Embrace New Hampshire
  • University News
  • The Future of UNH
  • Campus Locations
  • Calendars & Events
  • Directories
  • Facts & Figures
  • Academic Advising
  • Colleges & Schools
  • Degrees & Programs
  • Undeclared Students
  • Course Search
  • Academic Calendar
  • Study Abroad
  • Career Services
  • How to Apply
  • Visit Campus
  • Undergraduate Admissions
  • Costs & Financial Aid
  • Net Price Calculator
  • Graduate Admissions
  • UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law
  • Housing & Residential Life
  • Clubs & Organizations
  • New Student Programs
  • Student Support
  • Fitness & Recreation
  • Student Union
  • Health & Wellness
  • Student Life Leadership
  • Sport Clubs
  • UNH Wildcats
  • Intramural Sports
  • Campus Recreation
  • Centers & Institutes
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Research Office
  • Graduate Research
  • FindScholars@UNH
  • Business Partnerships with UNH
  • Professional Development & Continuing Education
  • Research and Technology at UNH
  • Request Information
  • Current Students
  • Alumni & Friends

University of New England Home

  • Current Students
  • Give to UNE


Future Students

Scripting must be enabled to use this site., difference between postgraduate research and coursework, what is the difference between postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research programs.

There are a few key differences between postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research programs.

Postgraduate Coursework

Postgraduate coursework programs deliver content through a set unit program (similar to an undergraduate Bachelor degree), but at a more advanced level. Coursework will allow you to deepen your knowledge within a discipline, or to pursue a new or additional study area at an advanced level.

Postgraduate degrees which can be studied through coursework include Graduate Certificates , Graduate Diplomas and Masters degrees.

Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate research programs (also known as Higher Degree Research ) allow you to develop your knowledge and experience within your field by completing a major research project under the supervision of an academic .

Postgraduate research degrees which you can study include Masters by research or Doctorate ( PhD ) programs.

Additional Information

For a comprehensive list of courses available, please refer to the Prospective Student Catalogue , or for further information view our Postgraduate Study page.

For further information regarding postgraduate coursework programs, please contact the Future Students Team through the Contact Us tab, online Live Chat , phone to 1800 818 865, or via Facebook .

For further information regarding postgraduate research programs, please submit your enquiry to Higher Degree Research through the Contact Us tab, or phone (02) 6773 3715 for assistance.

The feedback you provide will help us improve our answers for other people.

People who viewed this answer also viewed

  • How to Enrol (or Re-Enrol)
  • Difference between a Major, Specialisation and Area of Study
  • What is Postgraduate Study?
  • CRICOS Provider Number
  • Information about Trimesters

Share this page

  • StumbleUpon

Print this page

  • Right to Information
  • Accessibility
  • University of New England CRICOS Provider Number 00003G
  • ABN: 75 792 454 315

© University of New England, 2017

 Oorala Aboriginal Centre banner

The University of New England respects and acknowledges that its people, programs and facilities are built on land, and surrounded by a sense of belonging, both ancient and contemporary, of the world's oldest living culture. In doing so, UNE values and respects Indigenous knowledge systems as a vital part of the knowledge capital of Australia.

  • UNE is a member of the Regional Universities Network

© University of New England, 2021

Oorala Aboriginal Centre banner

What's the difference between a Masters by Coursework and a Masters by Research?

A  Masters by Coursework  is a professional qualification involving the study of a specified set of core units and a selection of eligible elective units. Undertaking a coursework program will mean that you will attend classes, complete assignments and sit exams where applicable. Some Masters by Coursework also require the completion of a minor thesis as part of the course. Dependent on the course, part-time and online study options are available. For more information, please see our  Postgraduate Study at ECU  web page. A  Masters by Research  involves the submission of a completed thesis based on an independent research project. Students studying a Masters by Research work independently with the support of a supervisor and the School. Students may be required to attend units to help expand skills in the area of research. For more information, please see our Research Degree  web page.

Explore ECU

Research Candidature

Application Process

Apply For Research

Manage Offer

Study At ECU

Supporting Documentation

I - Visa & Confirmation Enrolment

International Agent

Tracking My Application

What To Study

Published: 4 Sept 2023

4 Sept 2023 • Knowledge

Question & answer, related articles.

  • Can I apply to exit from my Master of Teaching with a Graduate Diploma in Teaching?
  • Can I study a Doctorate or Master by Research online?
  • How do I change from a Master by Coursework to a Master by Research?
  • I am a new student, how do I choose my classes and find my timetable?
  • Will my postgraduate studies give me credits towards a Masters degree?

Recently Viewed

To help us answer your question, choose one of these categories. 'Other' includes our graduates, industry partners or the general community.

Contacting ECU

  • Got a Question? Ask Us
  • Phone 134 328
  • International: +61 8 6304 0000
  • Campus Maps
  • Campus Tours (VR)


  • Copyright , Disclaimer
  • Accessibility
  • Privacy statement
  • Report errors
  • Template reviewed 16 Nov 2019
  • CRICOS Provider No. 00279B
  • RTO Code 4756
  • TEQSA ID PRV12160, Australian University

Most popular questions asked by students

  • How do I re-enrol into my Higher Degree by Research course?
  • What is Higher Degree by Research (HDR)?
  • How do I withdraw from my Higher Degree by Research (HDR) course?
  • How do I postpone my Masters by Research or Doctorate program?
  • Can I study online at ECU?

Undergraduate vs. Graduate: Educate Yourself On The Difference

  • Undergraduate Meaning
  • Undergraduate Student And Degree
  • Graduate Meaning
  • Graduate Degree And Student
  • Graduate Origin
  • Postgraduate Meaning

⚡ Quick summary

The main difference between undergraduate and graduate is that undergraduate is always used in the context of the first level of college or university education (the level where you can earn a bachelor’s degree ). In terms like graduate student and graduate degree , graduate refers to a level of advanced education beyond the undergraduate level, especially a master’s degree or doctorate . The noun graduate is more general, simply referring to a person who has completed a level of education (someone who has graduated ).

The difference between undergraduate and graduate is a difference of degrees (*throws graduation cap in the air to celebrate the pun*).

The level of education that each word involves varies depending on how the word is being used, and there are situations in which both words can be used in the same situation. For example, you can become a graduate student after graduating with an undergraduate degree.

The word graduate can mean very different things depending on whether it’s used as a noun (as in recent   high school graduates ), an adjective (as in graduate student and graduate degree ), or a verb (as in I plan to graduate next May ). The same goes for its shortened form, grad , which can be used as a noun (as in Congrats, grads! ) or an adjective (as in grad program ).

Undergraduate can also be used both as a noun (as in I’m an undergraduate at Stanford University ) or an adjective (as in I’m working toward my undergraduate degree ). It can be shortened to undergrad in both cases.

By the end of this article, you’ll have an advanced degree in all the different ways graduate, grad , undergraduate , and undergrad are used, and what they mean in each case.

What does undergraduate mean?

An undergraduate is “a student in a university or college who has not received a first, especially a bachelor’s, degree.” For example, a college student might say I’m an undergraduate at the University of Texas if they were pursuing a bachelor’s degree there.

Undergraduate is also commonly used as an adjective in this same context, in terms like undergraduate student , undergraduate degree , and undergraduate studies.

Undergraduate is often shortened to undergrad as both a noun and an adjective.

In undergraduate, the prefix under- is used to indicate a lower rank or status. The educational status of an undergraduate student is below that of a graduate student.

What’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge ? Here’s a lesson on the two terms.

What is an undergraduate student ? And what is an undergraduate degree ?

An undergraduate student is a student who is pursuing a degree at the first level of higher education (meaning the level after high school) at a college or university. Undergraduate students are typically those working to earn a bachelor’s degree (or, less commonly, an associate’s degree ). These degrees are often referred to with the general term undergraduate degree.

Outside of the US, an undergraduate degree is sometimes called a first degree. There are also other types of undergraduate degrees outside of the US, such as a foundation degree (which, like an associate’s degree, is typically a two-year degree).

What does graduate mean?

As a noun, the word graduate  [  graj -oo-it ] refers to “a person who has received a degree or diploma on completing a course of study.” In other words, a graduate is someone who has completed a particular level of schooling or an educational program—a child who just finished kindergarten and a doctor who just completed medical school are both graduates. It can even be used figuratively , as in She’s a graduate of the school of hard knocks.

As a verb, graduate [  graj -oo-eyt ] means “to receive a degree or diploma on completing a course of study.” The process of graduating—and the ceremony itself—is called graduation .

As an adjective, graduate [  graj -oo-it ] means something more specific. It’s used to indicate that a student, degree, or educational program is an advanced one, beyond the level of a bachelor’s degree. This sense of graduate is most commonly used in terms like graduate degree, graduate school , graduate program, and graduate student.

What is a graduate degree ? And what is a graduate student ?

Graduate degree typically refers to a degree beyond a bachelor’s, most commonly a master’s.

A graduate student is a student who’s pursuing an advanced degree after having earned their undergraduate degree (such as a bachelor’s degree) by graduating from an undergraduate program. Calling someone a graduate student most often means they are pursuing their master’s degree, but it may be another advanced degree, such as a PhD (You’d most commonly call such students PhD students. Or you might say they are working toward their doctorate or their doctoral degree.)

To earn a graduate degree, graduate students go to a division of a university known as graduate school , and such a program is often called a graduate program. In all of these terms, graduate is often shortened to grad : grad school , grad student , grad program . (A student doesn’t become a graduate student until they take graduate-level courses. For example, if a student graduates with a bachelor’s degree and then later pursues a different bachelor’s degree, they are still an undergraduate student .)

Some graduate studies are referred to in more specific ways: medical students go to medical school to earn their medical degree ; law students go to law school to earn their law degree.

Do you know the difference between these highly-esteemed graduate degrees and titles: PhD, MD, and Dr ?

Where does the word graduate come from?

Graduate comes from the Medieval Latin graduārī, meaning “to take a degree.” It ultimately derives from the Latin gradus, meaning “a step.” Each time you graduate, you take a step to the next level of education.

What does postgraduate mean?

The adjective postgraduate is sometimes used in the same way as the adjective sense of the word graduate, especially in the UK, as in postgraduate student or postgraduate studies.

Postgraduate should not be confused with postdoctoral , which refers to studies, research, or professional work above the level of a doctorate.

How to use undergraduate vs. graduate

The best way to sort out the different meanings of undergraduate and graduate is to determine whether each word is being used as a noun, an adjective, or a verb. Here’s an easy breakdown of the differences.

  • undergraduate (noun): A college student pursuing a non-advanced degree, most commonly a bachelor’s degree. Can be shortened to undergrad.
  • undergraduate (adjective): Used in the context of colleges and university programs ( undergraduate programs ) where students are pursuing a degree (generally referred to as an undergraduate degree ) that is not an advanced degree. Also sometimes shortened to undergrad.
  • graduate (noun): A person who has completed a particular level of schooling or educational program. Can be shortened to grad.
  • graduate (verb): To complete a level of schooling (and, typically, to receive a degree or diploma). You can graduate from kindergarten, high school, college, graduate school, medical school, etc.
  • graduate (adjective): Used in the context of advanced schooling—a level beyond a bachelor’s degree, most commonly a master’s program. Used in terms like graduate student , graduate school , graduate degree , graduate program , graduate courses , etc. Often shortened to grad.

Examples of undergraduate, undergrad, graduate, and grad used in a sentence

Let’s look at some examples of these words in actual, real-life use to get the meanings straight.

  • As an undergraduate, she had studied engineering; as a graduate student, she switched to architecture.
  • I completed my undergraduate degree after five years and a lot of hard work.
  • As a graduate student, you will be expected to complete a thesis.
  • You should start thinking about graduate school applications before you graduate.
  • Most of the applicants for this position are recent college graduates.
  • I’m still an undergrad, but I’m hoping to start grad school next fall.
  • I’m a UGA grad, but I almost went to Georgia Tech.

Go Behind The Words!

  • By clicking "Sign Up", you are accepting Dictionary.com Terms & Conditions and Privacy policies.
  • Phone This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No matter who is graduating, here are tips on how to craft a perfect congratulations card for their achievement.

Trending Words

Language Stories

what is a graduate coursework

[ im- promp -too ]

  • Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Home »
  • Advice »
  • Postgraduate Study Advice »

What Is A Postgraduate Degree? A Definition and Guide

Find your perfect postgrad program search our database of 30,000 courses.

What is a postgrad degree?

One thing that all postgraduate degrees have in common is that they allow you to continue your studies in a specialised subject. An undergraduate degree is usually required for a student to be considered eligbile to study a postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate degrees are taken for a number of different reasons, such as to move into academia and research, or to specialise or advance in a particular career path. Some people choose to complete a postgraduate degree to change study or career paths entirely. 

There are a lot of different aspects involved in postgraduate education. If you are considering expanding your knowledge with a postgraduate degree, it’s important to understand the details. This guide covers everything you need to know about postgraduate degrees.

Postgraduate degree versus graduate degree

So, what is the difference between a postgraduate degree and a graduate degree ? The answer is basically nothing! The term 'graduate degree' tends to be more widely used in America, whilst 'postgraduate degree' is usually the preferred terminology in the UK. But both terms mean the same thing – and refer to degrees undertaken after completion of an undergraduate or bachelors degree, for example a masters degree or PhD. 

What is a postgraduate degree?

Masters degree

A masters degree is one of the most common postgraduate courses completed after undergraduate study. This postgraduate qualification can take a number of different forms, but what they all have in common is that they usually require an undergraduate degree to gain entry. These forms of postgraduate degree include:

Masters of Arts (MA)

Masters of Science (MSc)

Masters of Philosophy (MPhil)

Masters of Research (MRes)

Masters of Engineering (MEng)

The majority of masters courses require a thesis or dissertation to graduate in addition to any coursework. In the UK, most masters courses are a year in length, apart from some professional masters courses such as Masters of Architecture (MArch) which are generally between two and three years. Most masters courses in the US are two years in duration, as are many masters courses in Europe . 

MA, MSc and MPhil

Masters degrees are gained either through a taught or research course . In a taught masters, students are awarded a Masters of Arts (MA), Masters of Science (MSc) or a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) . 

MA and MSc are the two most common types of postgraduate degrees. MA courses focus on arts and humanities subjects, whereas MSc degrees focus on STEM subject areas.

An MPhil focuses on advanced research in various fields. It involves independent study and the completion of a substantial thesis or dissertation. While often seen as a pathway to a PhD, it also holds value as a standalone qualification for careers in academia, research or related fields.

An MLitt is quite a rare masters degree option and originates from the ancient universities in England and Scotland. It is a postgraduate degree that's awarded for arts and humanities subjects at select universities in both countries. An abbreviation of Master of Letter – the Latin translation of Magister Litterarum – an MLitt serves as an alternative to the more common MA or MPhil degrees, and can be offered as either a taught or research degree. Relatively few British universities offer the MLitt, and most of these are in Scotland. A very select number of universities in the USA and Australia also offer it as a specialised masters degree option.

What is a postgraduate degree? MRes programs

MArch and MEng

Some masters courses like an MArch or a Masters of Engineering (MEng) are taken after completing the relevant undergraduate course with a long-term view to qualify as an architect or engineer. These masters programs are essential parts of the qualification routes and those who wish to become architects or engineers must complete them to be able to practise in their chosen career.

Other masters courses are about specialising or focussing on a career choice, especially those in the law or medical professionals. There are some masters courses that are for those graduates who already have a first degree but wish to retrain in another subject, such as a Masters in Town Planning or Masters in Journalism, for these courses it is assumed that the student has a number of academic skills that are transferable to the new subject.

What about an Integrated Masters Degree?

An integrated masters degree combines undergraduate and postgraduate studies in a single program. Students studying an integrated masters will start with a bachelors degree and move seamlessly on to a masters program after completing their undergraduate studies. Common subjects for integrated masters include engineering, natural sciences, mathematics and some social sciences. These programs offer an accelerated path to advanced masters study, allowing students to deepen their expertise while potentially saving time and money.

Apply for one of our x5 bursaries worth £2,000

We've launched our new Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries for 2024. Full-time, part-time, online and blended-learning students eligible. 2024 & 2025 January start dates students welcome. Study postgraduate courses in any subject taught anywhere worldwide.

what is a graduate coursework

A PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) is the highest level of postgraduate qualification available that can be studied. This advanced postgraduate degree involves an element of both research and working at an institution.

The majority of students who go on to complete a PhD have already undertaken a masters course in a relevant subject. Often, this will be an MPhil or MRes, but this is not exclusively the case. It is mostly those who wish to go into academic research or teaching who decide to complete PhDs. The whole point of a PhD is further specialisation and it's not an option for changing career path, apart from progressing in the world of academia.

Postgraduate diploma 

Postgraduate diplomas are taught courses that do not require students to complete a dissertation or thesis. This type of postgraduate qualification offers the same level of study as a masters degree, but is completed over a shorter period of time because it doesn’t require a dissertation.

If you undertake a masters course but do not complete the dissertation this is the postgraduate qualification that you will probably find yourself finishing with. Postgraduate diplomas can be a great way for those who are unsure about whether they need or want to complete a full masters course, whilst still finishing with a postgraduate-level qualification to specialise their knowledge base and advance career skills.

There are some UK professions, such as teaching , that involve a postgraduate diploma ( PGCE in Education ) that allows graduates who did not study teaching to quickly qualify in an education profession. 

Postgraduate certificate

Postgraduate certificates are similar to postgraduate diplomas, in that they do not require the completion of a dissertation or thesis in order to get the final qualification. This postgraduate course allows students to gain specialised knowledge in their chosen area in a shorter amount of time. A postgraduate certificate is shorter than a postgraduate diploma, making it one of the shortest postgraduate qualifications to attain.

What is a postgraduate degree?

Applying for a postgraduate degree

There are two main ways to apply for a postgraduate degree in the UK. One is via UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), which is the centralised system for students studying an undergraduate degree at a UK university. The other, and more common way to apply for a postgraduate degree is directly through the university. Once you have found the postgraduate degree that you want to apply for, check with the university’s admissions department and find out how best to proceed with your application.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for postgraduate degrees will vary depending on the level of qualification, the course and the university. In most cases, you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree in order to obtain a postgraduate degree, although some postgraduate qualifications may accept students who have a suitable level of work experience in the subject area.

Higher postgraduate level qualifications, such as a PhD, will usually require you to have both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in order to have a place on the course. You should always check the specific course requirements when choosing a postgraduate degree.

Funding your postgraduate degree

There are various funding options for postgraduate degrees in the UK – these include scholarships and grants offered by universities based on academic achievement or specific criteria, as well as government-backed student loans covering tuition fees and living expenses. Employer sponsorship is another route, especially for courses relevant to a particular field of work. Research councils provide funding for research-based degrees, while charitable trusts and foundations offer support in diverse fields. Many students also opt for part-time work alongside their studies.

You can find out more about funding your postgraduate degree in our Ultimate Postgraduate Student Funding Guide .

Postgraduate degrees: a summary

A postgraduate degree is an excellent way to specialise, retrain and develop new skills in your chosen subject and career path. Postgraduate degrees tend to be shorter than undergraduate degrees, letting you efficiently gain further qualifications once acquiring basic academic skills from an undergraduate degree. 

Further postgraduate study gives students the opportunity to learn and gain a deep understanding of their chosen subject and is well worth the time and money. Having a postgraduate qualification can also help improve your future career prospects, since you have demonstrated both a deeper understanding of a subject area and a determination to complete further academic studies.

Our bursary winner & funding opportunity

Alice Tucker is a 21-year-old student studying an MA in Human Rights at the University of Manchester. She experienced a whole range of emotions when she discovered she was being awarded one of our bursaries, saying, “I was shocked but extremely grateful. Masters degrees are very difficult to fund and I was working two part-time jobs during the final year of my undergraduate degree to save up for this. Even with those savings, I am constantly thinking about how I will make my money last. Having this bursary will definitely remove that pressure for me so that I can focus on studying for my degree.”

what is a graduate coursework

Related articles

What Is The Difference Between Graduate & Postgraduate Programs?

What is a Masters Degree?

What is a PhD?

Postgraduate Diploma

What is an MBA?

Master of Arts: What is an MA?

Master of Science: What is an MSc?

Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries


Exclusive bursaries Open day alerts Funding advice Application tips Latest PG news

Sign up now!

Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries

Take 2 minutes to sign up to PGS student services and reap the benefits…

  • The chance to apply for one of our 5 PGS Bursaries worth £2,000 each
  • Fantastic scholarship updates
  • Latest PG news sent directly to you.

Graduate coursework options

You can apply for more than 340 award programs ranging from Graduate Certificates to Masters and PhD study in a wide range of study areas and disciplines.

Graduate degree options include:

Graduate certificates

A Graduate certificate is six month course where you can choose from more than 25 discipline areas. It's a perfect stepping stone to help you return to tertiary study after some time away.

Find Graduate certificates

Graduate diplomas

The Graduate Diploma is similar to an undergraduate major and ideally suited as an introduction to a new discipline. It's perfect for professional development and as a preparatory program for graduate studies.

Find Graduate diplomas

Masters by coursework

Masters by coursework is normally one to two years of study. It provides advanced specialist or professional training in a particular discipline or interdisciplinary area and can lead to professional accreditation. Some also offer pathways to doctorate specialisations.

Find Masters by coursework

Professional doctorates

Professional doctorates enable you to carry out advanced academic and professional study that directly relates to a professional role. Completion normally requires doing coursework and a thesis.

Find Professional doctorates

Professional and Continuing Education

There are also professional and continuing education programs you can take outside of your degree to give you a leading edge in your field of expertise.

View programs

Need help understanding your options?

Get in touch with our student support team at Stop 1 to discuss what graduate coursework degrees you can apply for.

  • (877) 445-7180

What’s the Difference Between a Graduate and Undergraduate Degree Program?

When you’re starting to consider your path in higher education, degrees — such as BBA, BS, MBA and MS — can look more like alphabet soup than the academic accomplishments they are.

An undergraduate degree, which commonly refers to a bachelor’s degree, is the next educational step you can pursue after high school. After you earn a bachelor’s degree, you can consider pursuing a graduate degree, which commonly refers to a master's degree. A bachelor's degree is required before a master’s degree because master’s programs generally build on bachelor-level education with more in-depth study.

If you’re considering a path in higher education, use this guide to learn more about undergraduate and graduate degrees.

What is an undergraduate degree? Undergraduate degrees usually require students to take general education courses in areas such as math, language and culture, as well as courses focused on their majors.

Many institutions offer bachelor's degrees in a wide range of subjects. Bachelor's degrees can look slightly different depending on which subject you major in. For example, if your major is information technology, you might earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Information Technology. If you major in English, you might graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English.

While the term undergraduate degree most commonly refers to a bachelor's degree, some students earn a two-year degree called an associate degree after high school before or while pursuing a bachelor's degree.

What is a graduate degree? If you want to continue your studies after completing your bachelor's degree, the next level of education is a graduate degree . Graduate degrees vary significantly depending on the type of degree and the specific program you pursue. Overall, graduate studies provide a more advanced, in-depth curriculum and often practical industry experience to help prepare you for a specific career or field.

There are many types of graduate degrees. You might pursue a master's degree, such as a Master of Arts (MA), Science (MS), Education (MED), or Business Administration (MBA). Other graduate degrees include doctoral and professional degrees, such as Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Juris Doctor (JD) and Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Undergraduate vs. graduate degrees: What’s the difference? While both undergraduate and graduate degrees involve courses and developing new skills, there are significant differences between the degrees, including:

Order of degrees Consider degrees as educational building blocks. After completing high school, you have the foundation to pursue an undergraduate degree, such as a bachelor’s degree. Once you've earned a bachelor's degree, you can pursue further studies in your chosen field through a graduate degree.

Course of study The academic content and focus vary between undergraduate and graduate degrees. For example, if you are completing an undergraduate degree in business, the concepts will be more foundational and general. These concepts lay the groundwork that allows business graduate students to study more specific disciplines, concepts and applications.

Number of courses Given the foundational nature of bachelor’s programs, they typically require more courses to graduate than master’s programs, which are more specialized. For example, the Strayer University Bachelor of Business Administration program has 40 courses, and its Master of Business Administration program has 10 courses. Remember that the time it will take you to complete a degree program can vary depending on the specific program and your academic performance.

Is earning a degree worth it? Undergraduate degrees can help you explore your interests, gain valuable knowledge and skills, expand your professional connections and pursue your career goals. Meanwhile, graduate programs can help you learn the more specialized skills you might need to further your career goals.

Some institutions offer their students assistance to offset costs and support every step of the way. At Strayer University:

  • Enroll in a bachelor’s program and we’ll give you a brand-new laptop to help you with your coursework.*
  • We offer access to up to 10 no-cost gen ed courses through our affiliate, Sophia, to help you save time and money.*
  • For every three bachelor's courses you pass, earn one on us tuition-free, to be redeemed near the end of your program with the Strayer Graduation Fund .*
  • You’ll have a dedicated student service coach who will help guide you through your program.
  • Access our Career Center with on-demand tools, tips and resources to help you succeed during your program and after graduation.

Still wondering if an undergraduate or graduate degree is worth it? This is a worthwhile question for each potential student to explore. Many careers require a certain level of education or specific skills, so research the career pathways you're interested in and weigh the qualifications needed against your priorities to determine the best next step for you.

*Eligibility rules and restrictions apply. Connect with us for details.

Learn more about Strayer University’s online degree offerings .

Category : Value of a Degree

Published Date : MAY 5, 2024

Request more information

Do you have transfer credits?

U.S. military affiliation

By providing your information, you consent to receive occasional special promotional offers and education opportunities by phone, text message, WhatsApp and email via automated technology from Strayer University and its affiliate Capella University. Consent is not required to purchase goods or services. You can always call us at 1.866.314.3547 .

Rawls College of Business

Master of science in human resource management.

The Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MS-HRM) at Rawls College is a part-time lockstep program designed to meet the strong demand from companies and organizations for human resource professionals to recruit and retain talent in an increasingly tight labor market. The MS-HRM bridges theory with practice in all areas of staffing and performance management, human resource information systems, people analytics, compensation and benefits, leadership and ethics, and others while also providing the business context in which human resource management operates. This program is currently designated THECB Approval Pending.

what is a graduate coursework

program highlights

Flexible part-time format, 100% online.

Complete coursework from anywhere with our 100% online curriculum

Optional Synchronous Meetings

Attend synchronous meetings with instructors for more personalized instruction.

Designed for Working Professionals

Apply classroom knowledge directly to your work experience without the need for an internship.

Career-Defining Curriculum

The MS-HRM will help you prepare for professional careers in HRM through in-depth training in areas of HRM specialization with an emphasis on HR analytics. Throughout the program, you will gain an understanding of HRM issues and practices, examine ethical and legal HRM issues, enhance analytical reasoning and project management skills, develop strong communication and relationship management skills, and much more.

Core classes include foundational building blocks for today's business leaders:

Managing Organizational Behavior and Organizational Design

Human Resource Management

Negotiation and Conflict Management Skills

Human Resource Information Systems & Analytics

Employment Law & Labor Relations

Talent Acquisition & Management

Compensation & Benefits

International Human Resource Management

Individual Differences & Belongingness

Strategic Human Resource Management Capstone

program format

The Rawls College MS-HRM is a 30-credit-hour, 10-course program. The 100% online format is designed to be accessible for working professionals, allowing them to apply their classroom knowledge directly to their unique work experience. This is a part-time lockstep program designed to be completed in two years.

View sample degree programs »

Our management faculty members are passionate about helping you achieve your educational and professional goals. Our faculty integrates insights from their own research and professional experiences into the curriculum to ensure you can connect course topics to real-world scenarios.

Meet our faculty »

supporting your success

Students in Career Management Center waiting room

Rawls Career Management Center

Whether you are looking to switch careers or advance on your current path, the Rawls Career Management Center (CMC) is dedicated to supporting your success. The staff in the CMC can help you explore professions and industries, learn strategic career advancement techniques, and connect you with top employers.


Georgie G. Snyder Center for Business Communication

The Georgie G. Snyder Center for Business Communication (CBC) is dedicated to helping the Rawls College of Business community develop communication skills that lead to academic, professional, and personal success. Through consultations, workshops, microcredentials, and other services, we support Rawls students and faculty in “achieving excellence in business through excellence in communication.

Student showing off graduation ring at commencement ceramony

Techsan Connection

The Techsan Connection is a free, online platform for Texas Tech alumni. Through the platform, alumni can apply to jobs, reconnect with fellow classmates, network with industry professionals and volunteer to mentor current students.

The admission process is the first step toward earning your degree. We will work closely with you to ensure your application process is personal, simple and successful.

Admission Requirements

Successful MS-HRM students come from all educational backgrounds but must have a bachelor's degree. Our program is designed to meet the needs of professionals looking to expand their skills within HRM.

A complete application consists of the following items to be received by the noted deadlines:

Unofficial Transcripts

Applicants must submit unofficial transcripts from any degree-awarding college or university, as well as any post-secondary institution attended.

Applicants must submit a detailed current resume, indicating professional work experience—including start and end dates (month and year) for each position held. Provide accomplishments and skills acquired, including managerial experience.

Letter of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit a letter of recommendation. The letter should provide specific examples and anecdotes that illustrate your professional and/or academic potential.

Applicants must write an essay outlining their personal experiences, career goals, past challenges, any other relevant information they'd like the admissions committee to consider.

Application Deadlines

This program is pending approval by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The initial application period will open once program is approved.

There's no better time to apply for the MS-HRM program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

student resources

  • Prospective Students
  • Current Students

Program Questions

Junior Perez 806.834.4575

[email protected] 806.742.3184

Three Rawls Marketing Doctoral Students Recognized in Proposal Competition


Professional mba weekend classes.

Saturday, June 1, 2024 - Sun , June 2, 2024 (all day)

Where: Rawls College of Business

Saturday, June 29, 2024 - Sun , June 30, 2024 (all day)

Where: Center for Business Communications Room 139

Saturday, July 20, 2024 - Sun , July 21, 2024 (all day)

Contact TTU

  • Like Rawls College of Business on Facebook Like Rawls College of Business on Facebook
  • Follow Rawls College of Business on X (twitter) Follow Rawls College of Business on X (twitter)
  • Subscribe to Rawls College of Business on YouTube Subscribe to Rawls College of Business on YouTube
  • Follow Rawls College of Business on Flickr Follow Rawls College of Business on Flickr
  • Follow Rawls College of Business on Instagram Follow Rawls College of Business on Instagram
  • Connect with Rawls College of Business on LinkedIn Connect with Rawls College of Business on LinkedIn
  • Facts & Figures
  • Accreditations
  • Maps and Directions
  • Faculty Distinctions, Awards and Honors
  • Engineering Honors
  • Computer Engineering
  • Global Programs
  • Student Organizations
  • Peer Teachers
  • Fast Track: Optimizing the transition from Undergraduate to Graduate Studies
  • Admissions and Aid
  • Entry to a Major Process
  • Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • Research Areas
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Seminars and Distinguished Lectures
  • Industry Capstone Program
  • Industrial Affiliates Program

Online Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Certificate

Gain a competitive edge with our graduate-level Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Certificate. This program equips both novices and seasoned professionals with the essential skills to harness the power of modern Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in their domain. Upon completion, participants will master statistical analysis and machine learning techniques, enabling them to dissect complex data sets. Armed with the ability to synthesize and evaluate AI models, graduates will confidently tackle real-world challenges, leveraging cutting-edge tools to derive actionable insights and drive innovation in their respective fields.

I'm ready to apply!   Request more information

what is a graduate coursework

Certificate Overview

The Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning certificate is a 12-credit program that equips novices and seasoned professionals with the essential skills to harness the power of modern Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in their respective fields of operation.

Technical Qualifications

To be successful in this program, prospective students must demonstrate an understanding of core concepts in computer science or equivalent covered in the categories below:

  • Program Design and Concepts : programming proficiency through problem-solving with a high-level programming language, emphasizing computational thinking, data types, object-oriented design, dynamic memory management, and error handling for robust program development.
  • Data Structures : implementing essential abstract data types and algorithms covering stacks, queues, sorting, searching, graphs, and hashing; examining performance trade-offs, analyzing runtime and memory usage.
  • Algorithms : computer algorithms for numeric and non-numeric problems; design paradigms; analysis of time and space requirements of algorithms; correctness of algorithms.
  • Discrete Structures for Computing : foundations from discrete mathematics for algorithm analysis, focusing on correctness and performance; introducing models like finite state machines and Turing machines.
  • Mathematical Foundations : Calculus, Probability, and Linear Algebra.

Students must take four out of five possible courses to complete this certificate. See course information below.


To qualify for this certificate, you must complete 12 semester credit hours (SCH) of coursework from the following list of courses. All courses must be completed with a grade of C or above. Each course is linked to its course description within the catalog.

Courses (12 credits):

Select four of the following:*

  • CSCE 625 - Artificial Intelligence
  • CSCE 633 - Machine Learning
  • CSCE 635 - AI Robotics
  • CSCE 636 - Deep Learning
  • CSCE 642 - Deep Reinforcement Learning

* Additional courses are available with the consultation of an academic advisor.

For more information, please see the course catalog .

Why choose Engineering Online

Advance your career with our Engineering Online program! Backed by the university's esteemed reputation and national recognition in engineering education, you'll engage directly with industry leaders and a rigorous curriculum. Beyond graduation, tap into the extensive Aggie Alumni Network, offering invaluable connections to propel your career forward.

Engineering Online Benefits

Girl writes notes while reading slide on laptop computer.

Certificate Highlights

Related academics.

Students hands typing on a laptop

Online Master of Computer Science

Student using double monitors

Online Master of Engineering in Computer Engineering

Frequently asked questions.

Discover answers to frequently asked questions tailored to assist you in making informed decisions regarding your education with Engineering Online.

Graduate Admissions

Use EngineeringCAS to apply for the distance education version of the certificate. Follow the provided instructions, as they may differ from certificate to certificate.

Graduate Tuition Calculator

To calculate cost, select the semester you’ll start, choose “Engineering” from the drop-down menu, and slide “Hours” to how many you’ll take each semester. Your total cost is Tuition and Required Fees + Engineering Program Fee (Remote).

Questions? Email [email protected] !

what is a graduate coursework

Post Graduate Program in Data Science

Expedite your Career with a Prestigious Post Graduate Program in Data Science. Learn Data Science with US #1 course and Get Ahead in Your Career. Learn Extensive use of Tools & Technologies and Analytics Techniques.

Why Post Graduation in Data Science?

what is a graduate coursework

Key Features

Discover essential features of Post Graduate Program in Data Science by College de Paris and enhance your learning journey.

Live Two-Way Training

Get 192 Hours of Live Two-Way Online Session

Job Support

100% Placement Support in 2100+ Top Companies

Ranked Amongst Top 3

Learn from Top Ranked Online Learning Platform

Internship Opportunity

Get Wide Range of Hand-on Experience from Internships Opportunities

5-in-1 Cours

Get support in Training, Projects, Placement Support, Certification & Assignments

Experienced Trainers

Attend Unlimited Sessions with Multiple Trainers

Course curriculum

Module 1: sql.

SQL Overview

SQL Manipulation

JOIN; Inner, Left, Right, Full Outer, and Cross JOIN

String Functions

Mathematical Functions

Data-Time Functions

Hunting Tips

Case Study 1

Case Study 2

Module 2: Power BI

Power BI Part 1

Power BI Part 2

Power BI Part 3

Power BI Part 4

Power BI Part 5

Power BI Part 6

Power BI Part 7

Power BI Part 8

Business Intelligence (BI) Concepts

Microsoft Power BI (MSPBI) Introduction

Connecting Power BI with Different Data Sources

Power Query for Data Transformation

Data Modeling in Power BI

Reports in Power BI

Reports & Visualization Types in Power BI

Dashboards in Power BI

Data Refresh in Power BI

End to End Data Modeling & Visualization

Module 3: Python Programming

Python Programming Part 1

Python Programming Part 2

Python Programming Part 3

Python Programming Part 4

Python Programming Part 5

Python Programming Part 6

Python basics

Python programming fundamentals

Python Data Structures

Working with Data in Python

Working with NumPy Arrays

Data Set Project 3

Module 4: R Programming

R Programming Part 1

R Programming Part 2

R Programming Fundamentals

Data Structures in R

Working with Data in R

Handling Data in R

Module 5: CRISP ML(Q)


Project Management Methodology

Module 6: Data Types and Data Processing

Data Types and Data Processing

Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, Ratio, Data Cleaning techniques

Module 7: Statistics

Descriptive, Inferential, Hypothesis Testing

Module 8: EDA

Business moments, Graphical representation, Feature Engineering

Module 9: Mathematical Foundation

Mathematical Foundation

Optimization, Derivatives, Linear Algebra, Matrix Operations

Case Study 3

Module 10: Clustering

Hierarchical Clustering, K Means Clustering

Module 11: Dimension reduction

Dimension reduction

Module 12: Association Rules

Association Rules

Market Basket Analysis, Association Rules Intuition, Association Rules Applications, Association Rules Terminology Association Rules Performance Measures

Module 13: Recommendation Engine

Recommendation Engine

Intro to personalized strategy, similarity measures, user-based collaborative filtering, item-to-item collaborative filtering, recommendation engine vulnerabilities

Module 14: Text Mining and NL

Text Mining and NL

Text Mining Importance, BOW, Terminology and Preprocessing, Textual Data cleaning, DTM and TDM, Corpus level, positive and negative word clouds, social media web scraping

Module 15: Naive Bayes

Naive Bayes

Probability, Joint probability, conditional probability, Naive Bayes formula, Use case

Module 16: KNN

Nearest Neighbour Classifier, 1- Nearest Neighbour classifier, K- Nearest Neighbour Classifier, Controlling complexity in KNN, Euclidean Distance

Data Set Project 2

Module 17: Decision Tree

Decision Tree

What is a Decision Tree, Building a Decision Tree, Greedy Algorithm, Building the best Decision Tree, Attribute selection- Information gain

Module 18: Ensemble Techniques

Ensemble Techniques

Ensemble Primer, Voting, Stacking, Bagging, and Random Forest, Boosting Models

Module 19: Confidence Interval

Confidence Interval

Intro to Normal Distribution, Probability Calculation for normally distributed data, Normal QQ plot, Central Limit Theorem, Confidence Interval

Module 20: Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis Testing

Hypothesis Testing, Flowchart- Y is continuous, 2 sample T-Test, One Way ANOVA, Flowchart- Y is discrete, 2 proportion Test, Chi-Square Test

Module 21: Regression Techniques

Regression Techniques

Simple Linear, Multiple Linear, Logistic Regression, Multinomial Regression, Ordinal Regression, Advance Regression

Module 22: SVM

SVM Hyperplanes, Best fit Hyperplane, Kernel Tricks, Multiclass Classification using SVM

Module 23: Survival Analytics

Survival Analytics

Intro to Survival Analytics, Applications, Time to event, Censoring, Kaplan Meier Survival Function

Module 24: Forecasting


TimeSeries vs Cross-Sectional Data, Time Series Dataset, Forecasting Strategy, Time Series Components, Time Series Visualizations, Time Series Partition, Forecasting Methoods, Forecasting Errors, Seasonal Index

Module 25: ANN

Neural Network Primer, Perceptron and Multi-Layered Perceptron Algorithm, Activation Function, Error Surface, Gradient Descent Algorithm

Module 26: CNN

Image Net Challenge, Parameters Explosion and MLP, Convolutional Networks, Convolutional Layers and Filters, Pooling Layer, Practical Issues, Adversaries

Module 27: RNN

Traditional Language Models, Wny not MLP, Recurrent Neural Networks,RNN types, CNN+RNN, Bidirectional RNN, Deep Bidirectional RNN, RNN vs LSTM, Deep RNN vs Deep LSTM's

what is a graduate coursework

About this course

  • 212 lessons
  • 0 hours of video content

Start your Learning Journey With Kodakco

Our platform offers a diverse range of courses tailored to your interests and goals. Take the first step towards your learning journey today by enrolling in our courses. Start exploring, start growing, and start achieving your aspirations

what is a graduate coursework

What School Subjects Do You Need in High School?

T he subjects you study in high school should allow you to graduate, but you’ll also want classes that will prepare you for college and for life as an adult.

Picking high school courses is an exciting process. Core high school subjects like math, science, and language arts are required, but a range of others can be selected. Finally being given more of a choice in what a student studies can be freeing, but also may feel overwhelming, confusing, or stressful.

What courses are best? There's no one right path. First, consider what is needed to graduate. Then, take a look at your options.

Parents and teens can work together to choose school subjects that not only engage their interests but also have their future plans and goals in mind.

For example, students who want to go to college may be required to take more years of a foreign language or other classes required by the schools they are interested in. A student who is interested in pursuing a career in construction may want to take an industrial arts class.

Read on to learn more about selecting courses in high school.

What School Subjects Are Offered in High School?

Most high schools offer the same basic school subjects: Math, language arts, foreign language, science, social studies, health, and physical education (PE).

However, the exact courses may vary dramatically from school to school. Different high schools—even within the same district—often have different course offerings or special programs. If possible, choose the local high school that provides the programs and classes that best suit your needs and passions.

Below is a list of the most common school subjects. However, individual schools may offer a range of specialized classes, such as mindfulness or engineering.

High School Subjects

  • Literature or Language Arts
  • Speech and Debate
  • Writing or Composition
  • Trigonometry or Calculus
  • Biology (typically has advanced class options)
  • Chemistry (typically has advanced class options)
  • Earth or Space Sciences
  • Physics (typically has advanced class options)
  • US Government
  • World History
  • Foreign Language, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and German
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Arts, such as Music, Photography, Drawing, or Ceramics
  • Computer Applications, Graphic Design, or Web Design
  • Cooking and other life skills
  • Physical Education
  • Trade field studies such as Auto Mechanics, Woodworking, or Nursing
  • Personal Finance

School Subjects You Need to Graduate

Ideally, teens should start high school with a basic plan of the classes they will need to take to graduate. Every state has different requirements for obtaining a high school diploma, and each school varies greatly in what it offers to give kids a chance to fulfill them. Different schools also vary in the number of classes students take each year.

The school's guidance department can help students understand the graduation requirements and how their coursework aligns with them.

English language arts

Studying the English language and literature is an important part of high school for every student, regardless of their post-school plans. In addition to studying important pieces of literature, English classes teach teens about writing, reading, and speaking.

Most states require four years of English or language arts classes. Colleges require four years of English for admission. The main English classes in high school include:


In high school, students dig into several different types of math . Algebra and geometry are required at most high schools, and students may choose to take advanced math classes if they are offered.

Most states require three or four years of math coursework in high school. The main math classes in high school include:

Basic life sciences (biology) and physical sciences (chemistry and physics) are required at most high schools. These classes often include lab components that allow students to perform hands-on experiments.

Most states require two to three years of science coursework in high school. These may include:

  • Earth or Space sciences

Social studies and history

Understanding the past and how the world works is important for young adults. In high school, students will study history and government and learn about how social studies affects their lives.

Most states require three to four years of social studies coursework in high school, including:

Foreign languages

Learning a second language is important in today's global world. While many high schools offer foreign language courses, only 11 states require students to take a foreign language course. 

High school students can fill these requirements by learning the basics of at least one foreign language. They may also be able to choose to take advanced classes to learn more.

Common languages offered in high school include:

  • Mandarin Chinese

Other possible language offerings include Russian, Latin, American Sign Language, Arabic, and German.

Physical education and health

Physical education and health classes can teach high schoolers how to care for their bodies' fitness, health, and nutritional needs. These courses often touch on the following:

  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Making healthy choices about drugs, alcohol, and nicotine.

Many states require at least one unit of PE and health to graduate. Other states offer these subjects as electives.

Related: Does Your Teen's School Start Too Early?

School Subjects for College Preparation

Students planning to go to college should consider how colleges will look at their courses during the application process. Grade point average (GPA) is important, but coursework should also demonstrate academic rigor.

When planning, it can be helpful to balance standard high school courses with some that are more challenging. Additionally, students can do this—and even get a head start on college—by taking advanced placement (AP) or college-level classes.

AP classes are more rigorous courses that teach subjects at an introductory college level. Some of the most common AP courses that are available include:

  • Calculus AB
  • English Literature
  • African American Studies

Students who take AP classes have the option to take an AP test in the spring. If they get a certain score, they can get credit for the course at many colleges.

College credit courses

Many high schools offer opportunities to gain college credit through various programs. Your child's academic advisor, teachers, or counseling department can inform them about such offerings.

These may be online or in-person classes through programs offered by colleges and universities, and a professor or a high school teacher may teach them. Dual-credit programs allow students to fulfill their high school requirements while obtaining some college credits free of charge.

Related: The Best Gap Year Programs for After High School

School Subject Electives

In addition to the basic classes, there are usually plenty of opportunities to take electives in various areas of study. These can not only broaden a student's academic knowledge but also teach them valuable life skills and inspire their career aspirations .

In some cases, a student may be given the freedom to choose one class from a select group of options required in the school's curriculum. In others, a student may have room in their schedule to choose to study something simply based on their interests and goals.

Examples of elective classes may include:

  • Arts, such as music, photography, fashion design, painting, theater, dance, or ceramics
  • Computer applications, graphic design, or web design
  • Student government
  • Forensic science
  • Physical education
  • Sports medicine
  • Trade field studies such as auto mechanics, welding, or nursing
  • Personal finance or business

Students on a vocational track may be able to gain some hands-on learning in fields such as metalworks and woodworking. Many schools even offer the opportunity to gain certificates or licenses that will help them in their future careers .

Key Takeaways

Choosing high school classes requires planning both as a student enters school and throughout their high school experience. The right classes are challenging and engaging but not unrealistically rigorous or overwhelming.

An ideal schedule can help a student succeed, enjoy learning, and have a good academic experience while preparing them for their future plans , whatever they may be. Have your teen set up a meeting with their school counselor if they need any help.

Related: 10 Social Issues and Problems That Trouble Today's Teens

For more Parents news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Parents .

What School Subjects Do You Need in High School?

  • Skip to main content
  • Keyboard shortcuts for audio player

Marie Fowler, 83, becomes Howard University's oldest doctoral graduate

Fowler earned her doctoral degree in ministry over the weekend. She already has her bachelors and two masters but wasn't sure at her age she could manage the work. She stayed the course.

Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jump to navigation


  • Course Catalog
  • Class Schedule
  • Undergraduate

2024 Spring LEGALST 147 102 DIS 102


  1. Tips for successful completion of Coursework

    what is a graduate coursework

  2. What is Coursework and Why Coursework Matters So Much

    what is a graduate coursework

  3. 💣 Coursework tips. What Is a Coursework and How to Write a Paper: A

    what is a graduate coursework

  4. How to List Relevant Coursework on Resume?

    what is a graduate coursework

  5. What is College Coursework? Superb Guide to Completing Coursework!

    what is a graduate coursework

  6. What is Coursework: A Guide To Help You Understand How To Do It

    what is a graduate coursework


  1. ECE Paris Graduate School of Engineering

  2. Lecture: GCU Deadlines

  3. Rockefeller College Combined Degree Information Session

  4. Monash Graduate Education

  5. The University of Auckland Business Masters

  6. Lifelong Learning with NIE Graduate Coursework Programmes


  1. How to decide between postgraduate research and coursework

    4 mins. It can be a little tricky figuring out which postgraduate degree is for you. That's why we've done the work for you to clarify the differences between a coursework degree and a research degree, and where each could take your career. Tl;dr: The main difference between these two styles is coursework has classes and research has a thesis.

  2. Graduate Certificate Vs. Degree: Do You Need A Master's Degree?

    Completing graduate coursework can increase your confidence and develop the skills you need to apply for new roles. Even though master's degrees allow for specialization, many are comprehensive ...

  3. What Is a Graduate Degree? Your 2024 Guide

    A graduate degree is an academic program that you can pursue after getting your bachelor's degree. A graduate degree—which includes master's degrees, professional degrees, and doctorate degrees —allows you to further specialize in an area of interest or choose a course that directly relates to or is accredited by the profession you want ...

  4. Your Guide to Master's Programs

    A master's program is the course of study you enroll in when working on your master's degree—the graduate degree you can typically pursue after first earning your bachelor's.Obtaining a master's degree offers professional, personal, and academic benefits, and can be a lucrative step in terms of your education and career goals.

  5. What is the difference between a postgraduate taught master's and a

    These courses have highly specialised content, making them great launchpads for careers where specialist knowledge is required. ... (PGCE), which leads to a career in teaching, the graduate diploma in law (GDL) or master of law (LLM), which opens the door to the legal professions, or the master of business administration (MBA), which is a ...

  6. What Is a Master's Degree?

    A master's degree is a graduate degree that allows students to build advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied knowledge, forge a deeper understanding of their area of study, and develop a range of skills applicable to their trade. With a master's degree, you can typically have more opportunities to advance your ...

  7. What is a graduate degree?

    A graduate degree is an advanced level of education that you can pursue after completing your undergraduate degree (also known as a bachelor's degree). Graduate degrees build upon the knowledge and skills acquired during your undergraduate studies and allow you to specialize in a particular field of study. There are two main types of graduate degrees: master's degrees and doctoral degrees.

  8. What is a Graduate Degree?

    A graduate degree—including master's degrees, doctorates, and PhDs—provides an advanced understanding of a specific topic or field, and demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning that many employers value. Those who choose to enroll in graduate school often do so with a series of focused, career-oriented goals in mind, which sets the ...

  9. What is Graduate School? The Ultimate Guide

    The term "graduate school" can cover different types of courses and a wide array of subjects. The main types of graduate programs are: Doctorates (also known as PhDs or doctoral degrees) - This is the most advanced type of degree possible and can be undertaken in any academic discipline. Master's degrees - An advanced degree usually ...

  10. What Is Graduate School and Should You Apply?

    Tags: graduate schools, education, students. Grad school is an advanced course of study in an academic discipline that people can complete after they already have a college degree. Experts warn ...

  11. Graduate Certificate vs. Master's Degree

    Most graduate certificates at Harvard Extension require four courses, for example. You can earn a graduate certificate as a stand-alone credential. Although a graduate certificate is not an academic degree, you may be able to stack your certificate coursework toward a master's degree. You can find graduate certificates in a wide range of fields.

  12. Graduate Coursework

    Graduate Coursework. Whether you're looking to acquire new skills for your current role or to change paths, earning a graduate degree or certificate is an effective way to accelerate your career. With more than 130 programs at the master's, certificate and doctoral levels across three campuses and online, the UNH Graduate School leads the way ...

  13. Difference Between Postgraduate Research and Coursework

    There are a few key differences between postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research programs. Postgraduate Coursework. Postgraduate coursework programs deliver content through a set unit program (similar to an undergraduate Bachelor degree), but at a more advanced level. Coursework will allow you to deepen your knowledge within a discipline, or to pursue a new or additional study area at ...

  14. What's the difference between a Masters by Coursework and a ...

    A Masters by Coursework is a professional qualification involving the study of a specified set of core units and a selection of eligible elective units. Undertaking a coursework program will mean that you will attend classes, complete assignments and sit exams where applicable. Some Masters by Coursework also require the completion of a minor ...

  15. What is a Graduate Student?

    The two main graduate degrees in the United States are the master ' s degree and the doctoral degree. Both degrees involve a combination of research and coursework. Graduate education is characterized by in-depth training and specialized instruction. Study and learning are more self-directed at the graduate level than at the undergraduate level.

  16. Undergraduate Vs. Graduate: What's The Difference?

    ⚡ Quick summary. The main difference between undergraduate and graduate is that undergraduate is always used in the context of the first level of college or university education (the level where you can earn a bachelor's degree).In terms like graduate student and graduate degree, graduate refers to a level of advanced education beyond the undergraduate level, especially a master's degree ...

  17. What is a Postgraduate Degree? A Definition & Guide

    A Definition and Guide. A postgraduate degree is a qualification that is undertaken after a bachelors or undergraduate degree. It is recognised as a Level 7 qualification in the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland, and a Level 11 qualification in Scotland. Postgraduate degrees encompass a range of qualifications, including masters degrees ...

  18. Postgraduate education

    Graduate certificate, six-month full-time coursework. Graduate diploma, twelve-month full-time coursework. Master (of Arts, Science or other discipline). 1 year to 2 years of full-time study for coursework and research master's and 3 to 4 years of full-time study for extended master's degrees (which can allow the use of the word doctor in their ...

  19. What Is a Postgraduate Degree? Your 2024 Guide

    Essentially, any degree that requires an undergraduate ( bachelor's) degree as an admissions prerequisite can be considered a postgraduate degree. You might choose to pursue a postgraduate degree for a variety of reasons, including to change career paths, specialize in a highly-technical field, or move into a career in research or education.

  20. Graduate Education

    Prepare for advanced study and move up in your industry with graduate education offered through Stanford Online. These rigorous credit-bearing, graduate-level courses are broadcast from the Stanford classroom, offering a flexible format for working professionals. You can take graduate courses, enroll in a graduate certificate program, or earn ...

  21. Graduate coursework options

    Graduate coursework options. You can apply for more than 340 award programs ranging from Graduate Certificates to Masters and PhD study in a wide range of study areas and disciplines. Graduate degree options include: Graduate certificates. A Graduate certificate is six month course where you can choose from more than 25 discipline areas.

  22. What's the Difference Between a Graduate and Undergraduate Degree Program?

    An undergraduate degree, which commonly refers to a bachelor's degree, is the next educational step you can pursue after high school. After you earn a bachelor's degree, you can consider pursuing a graduate degree, which commonly refers to a master's degree. A bachelor's degree is required before a master's degree because master's ...

  23. Master of Science in Human Resource Management

    Master of Science in Human Resource Management. The Master of Science in Human Resource Management (MS-HRM) at Rawls College is a part-time lockstep program designed to meet the strong demand from companies and organizations for human resource professionals to recruit and retain talent in an increasingly tight labor market.

  24. Online Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Certificate

    To qualify for this certificate, you must complete 12 semester credit hours (SCH) of coursework from the following list of courses. All courses must be completed with a grade of C or above. Each course is linked to its course description within the catalog. Courses (12 credits): Select four of the following:* CSCE 625 - Artificial Intelligence

  25. Post Graduate Program in Data Science

    Post Graduate Data Science course in the contemporary world offers numerous benefits, including enhanced career prospects, versatile skill development, and opportunities to drive innovation and societal change through data-driven approaches. There is a growing demand for skilled data scientists across industries as organizations increasingly ...

  26. What School Subjects Do You Need in High School?

    What courses are best? There's no one right path. First, consider what is needed to graduate. Then, take a look at your options. Parents and teens can work together to choose school subjects that ...

  27. Online Degrees and Postgraduate Studies from Top Universities

    Earn a Master's degree, a Bachelor's degree, or a Postgraduate credential from a top-ranked university at a breakthrough price. Study on your own schedule with 100% online degree or postgraduate programs. Learn from project-based courses and get direct feedback from your professors. When you graduate, you'll receive the same university degree as students who attend class on campus.

  28. Marie Fowler, 83, becomes Howard University's oldest doctoral graduate

    Fowler earned her doctoral degree in ministry over the weekend. She already has her bachelors and two masters but wasn't sure at her age she could manage the work. She stayed the course.

  29. 2024 Spring LEGALST 147 102 DIS 102

    Alex Zhicheng Huang. Jan 16 2024 - May 03 2024. Th. 10:00 am - 10:59 am. Wheeler 24. Class #: 31408. Units: 4. Instruction Mode: In-Person Instruction. Offered through Letters & Science Legal Studies.

  30. How to Apply to Graduate School: Step-by-Step Guide

    To complete your grad school applications, here are the broad steps you'll take: Build your graduate school list. Create your application timeline. Compile your application components. Prepare for grad school interviews. Choose the right program for you. The most labor-intensive step will be compiling your application components, which can ...