Graduate School Jargon

Graduate School Jargon

Important terms to know before you start your grad school search.

You are embarking on a journey to reach your career goals, and you want to make sure you do it right. There are many things to consider when choosing a graduate school, but if you don’t understand what each program offers, it will be difficult to make the best decision. To make sure you find the right grad school, you must be able to "talk the talk".

Take a moment to browse through the following common lingo you will come across in your graduate school search. Click on the links for more information.

Assistantship: Many graduate schools offer assistantships to students in need of financial aid. Students take on teaching or research positions in order to receive a free or reduced tuition and sometimes other benefits such as a monthly paycheck.

Fellowship: Fellowships are similar to scholarships in that they are free money that do not need to be repaid. The amount of the award varies, though it could cover the cost of your tuition, housing and other living expenses. Sometimes the student must agree to perform work, such as research in order to receive the fellowship.

GMAT: The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is the standardized test most widely accepted at business school masters degree programs. The exam is composed of several sections testing your mathematical and English language skills.

GRE: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the general standardized test required for admission to most graduate programs.

Internship: An internship is when students work at a company in their industry for a short period of time either to supplement their courses or in addition to their courses. Many students must complete an internship as part of their graduate program requirements.

Letter of Recommendation: These are letters written by past or current professors, employers, co-workers or peers that provide solid examples of your work habits. These are typically submitted with your application package.

LSAT: The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is the standardized test that students interested in pursuing law school must take. It tests logical and verbal reasoning skills.

MCAT: Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the standardized exam for individuals interested in attending medical college.

Nonthesis option: Some masters degree programs do not require students to complete a thesis, or research project, in order to graduate. These are called nonthesis options.

Personal Statement: A personal statement gives you the chance to explain to the admissions committee why you would be the perfect fit for their program. It is the only chance you have to sell yourself to the admissions committee, so you'll want to make sure it's good.

Practicum: Similar to an internship, a practicum gives you hands-on experience in your field. However, it usually only lasts as long as your course.

Residency Requirement: Residency requirements describe the amount of time an online graduate student will spend on-campus. Many online programs can be completed 100% from home, but there are some which require students to complete courses at the grad school's physical location.

Terminal masters degree: The difference between a terminal masters degree and a regular masters degree is that a terminal masters degree prepares you for a specific profession. Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Education (M.Ed) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) are all examples of a terminal masters degree.

Thesis: Many masters degree programs require students to complete a thesis, or in-depth research paper or project, in order to earn their degree.

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