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Graduate School

Is graduate school for you?

Deciding whether or not to pursue further, graduate level, education is a big decision. It is where you specialize and focus in on a much more specific area so you want to feel confident about your career path before attending graduate school. You also want to know if you really need that additional degree - learning is great, but you might need to consider the cost/benefit analysis in certain situations. Use ONet to search for the careers you are interested in and scroll down to see the job zone, that indicates the level of preparation required, and further down to see if they include the common degree held in entry level jobs for that field. You should also look at some job postings you are interested in - including aspirational roles that you would like to reach in the future - to see what education most companies are requiring. There are many careers where you must have an advanced degree to even get started, in which case it might make sense to head into grad school sooner. In other fields, graduate education might be needed at some point to move up the ladder, in which case you need to decide if you want to get started working or pursue additional education sooner. The Rizzo Career Center is here to assist you with all of these decisions through our lifelong service to Loyola alumni.

Selecting a School

Choosing a college or university for continuing education is very similar to how you picked Loyola for your undergraduate education. Take a look at the location, student demographics, mission, ranking, and faculty for the programs you are considering. If you are pursuing a doctorate degree, you will want to pay particular attention to the faculty areas of expertise and research. Most graduate education is accredited through an organization that dictates particular courses to be included across all programs. Research the accreditation for the programs you are considering and you will likely find a list of accredited schools to use as a starting point. Consider the electives or specialized tracks offered and opportunities for experiential education at each school.

Every college and university has a profile on LinkedIn that shows all of their alumni who are on LinkedIn. Try looking up a few of the schools you are considering to see where the alumni have landed. You can also reach out to learn about their experience in graduate school. Admissions offices at each program can also likely connect you with a current student or alumnus if you have questions or want a first hand perspective.

Loyola offers the Double Greyhound Alumni Discount so take a look at our graduate offerings when considering further education.

Another important factor in selecting a school is the cost. Many graduate schools offer Assistantships or Fellowships that can defray part of the program costs. It varies by school and program, but be sure to look on the website and inquire about possibilities. 

Parts of an Application

Personal Statement

A key piece of your application will be the Personal Statement. This short document is meant to share your passion for the subject area, experiences, and goals. This is your chance to stand out and share the full picture of what makes you unique and the best candidate. Be sure to follow the prompt for each school and stay within the word count! You can schedule an appointment with a Career Center staff member for feedback on your personal statement.

Most personal statements need to address four key things:

  • Your "why" - what makes you interested in this field? Share your passions and tell the story of how you decided on this subject.
  • Relevant background - what experiences or exposure to the field have you had? What have you learned?
  • Goals - if you have a specific goal in mind, please share! If you aren't sure about a specialization or niche area, that is absolutely fine too. Think about how you plan to approach your work
  • Why you selected this program - Unless you are applying through a central portal (like Medical School), you will need to include specific reasons that you want to attend this school. Be sure to do your research and mention specific faculty you might want to work on based on their research, opportunities for clinical experience, specific courses or concentrations, or whatever drew you to the program.

Letters of Recommendation

You will need to select between 2-4 faculty members to write your letters of recommendation. Select faculty who know you well and will speak highly of you. Be sure to ask early as many professors will be tasked with many letters to write. When requesting a letter of recommendation you want to provide a copy of your resume/CV, personal statement, information about the program, and anything you might want them to emphasize in the letter.


Submitting a resume or CV along with your application gives the admissions committee a more complete picture of you as a person. They are not as concerned with length so two pages is fine. Highlight campus involvement, leadership experiences, or volunteerism that might not be addressed in other areas of your application. At this stage in your career, there is not much of a distinction between a resume and a CV so don't think you need to create a brand new document. Be sure to have your resume/CV reviewed by the Career Center before submitting.

Standardized Testing

One factor in selecting your program might be whether or not they require the GRE or other standardized test. There has been a move away from requiring these tests in recent years, but if you are pursuing law school you will have to take the LSAT and medical school applicants need to take the MCAT.

The Interview

The final step in your application process will be an admissions interview. Each program structures this differently so be sure to get clarification on what to expect. Use Big Interview to learn about common admissions interview questions and record yourself for practice and AI feedback. We also offer appointments to prepare and practice for an interview.