Which Graduate Degree is Right for Me?
Wherever you are in your career or life journey, a graduate degree can be a gratifying next step. But with the variety of different degree types available, you might be left wondering which one best fits your education goals.
Below, we’ve provided some guidance that will help you make the most informed decision regarding the next steps you choose to take on your educational pathway.
If you have any further questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to check out our FAQ page or schedule a meeting with one of our graduate recruitment experts.
Graduate certificates are a favorite of students who are focused on stepping into a new field or broadening their career portfolio.
The most popular graduate degree, a master’s degree will set you up for more leadership opportunities in your chosen field.
Ed.S. or C.A.S. Degree
For students who already have a Master’s degree and want to advance in their field, we have the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) or Certificate of Advanced Studies (C.A.S.) degrees.
Doctoral degrees are the highest level of education available and prepare students for senior leadership roles or careers in academia.
Quick Program Facts
|Typical Credit Load
|Minimum Time Commitment (Semesters)
|Minimum Time Commitment (Years)
|Education Specialist or C.A.S. Degree
|30 Credits Beyond Master’s
Graduate certificates are an easy way to work toward a master’s degree, a great way to enhance your resume, or can be a wonderful addition to an existing graduate degree. If you are considering a new career pathway, a graduate certificate can also be a useful way of making an informed decision about whether the career is a good fit.
Most graduate certificates require 9-18 credits and can be completed in two or more semesters.
Master’s degrees are the most commonly pursued degrees in graduate education. Typically, master’s degrees are categorized as a research or professional degree, with research degrees generally requiring the completion of a thesis. All master’s degrees require a minimum of 30 credits and are often completed in 5 or more semesters.
Professional Master’s Degree
Professional master’s degrees are designed to give you a leg up in your career and prepare you for leadership positions in your field. The depth of knowledge available from a professional master’s degree sets you apart from those with only a bachelor’s degree. Many degrees of this type can be completed either part time or full time. Students in these programs either support themselves through their degree, receive degree funding from their employer, or obtain a graduate assistantship. You can review our list of open graduate assistant positions here.
Research Master’s Degree
Research master’s degree prepare you to progress on to a Ph.D. or careers in research and academia. Students in these programs complete a thesis based on their own unique research that also supports their advisor’s work. Matching with your potential advisor is an important step of the admissions process for research-based degrees. Students typically support this type of degree with a research or teaching assistantship. For more information about how to introduce yourself to a potential advisor and learn about funding options, visit our FAQ page.
Education Specialist (Ed.S.) & Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) Degrees
The education specialist (Ed.S.) degree offers opportunities for study beyond the master’s degree toward leadership roles, such as school superintendent, curriculum coordinator, or to develop research capacities. A typical Ed.S. degree requires 30 credits beyond the master’s, and is generally a terminal degree that is individually designed by the student with their advisor. A previously earned master’s degree in the Ed.S. subject matter is required for admission.
The certificate of advanced study (C.A.S.) is comprised of a planned program of at least thirty (30) hours of work beyond the master’s degree. The minimum basis for admission to the program is the possession of a master’s degree in the area or subject involved. Students who wish to pursue a year of study beyond the master’s degree in a new area or subject are expected to apply for admission to a second master’s degree program. At present, this program is open to those who hold master’s degrees in Nursing. Other departments, if they choose to apply, may gain approval for such a program in the future. Only work taken after the completion of a master’s degree can be used for credit toward the certificate of advanced study.
Doctoral degrees are a terminal graduate degree type which means it is the highest level of education available for a given field. This degree prepares you for a career as a faculty member, a senior leader in higher education and research settings, or a researcher in industry. All doctoral students complete a dissertation based on their own unique research. Before beginning work on their dissertation however, students must first complete coursework and pass a comprehensive exam provided by their graduate committee. About half of the credits that go into a doctoral degree allow time for students to research and write their dissertation.
Matching with your potential advisor is an important step of the admissions process. Doctoral students typically support their degree with a research or teaching assistantship. For more information about how to introduce yourself to a potential advisor and learn about funding options, visit our FAQ page.
A doctoral degree typically requires about 60 total credits and can be completed in 10+ semesters.