WHY PURSUE GRADUATE STUDIES?
An excerpt from the publication Graduate Studies: A Practical Guide of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies.
Many students pursue graduate studies for the love of learning and discovery. For others, cultural motivation and family traditions have an unquestionably positive influence on the decision to enter graduate studies. Some students pursue graduate studies because their chosen profession requires a graduate degree while others are looking to change career paths or better position themselves for advancement opportunities.
In research programs, graduate students are involved in both the development and the responsible conduct of original, important research and scholarship. As such, graduate students should be excited by carrying out in-depth and detailed studies in the spirit of creative and imaginative inquiry.
Graduate students and their work are an important part of an ongoing research process that helps us to better comprehend the human and natural world in which we exist. This research provides the human community with ways of understanding natural, cultural, imaginative, social and technological phenomena and investigating problems through the pursuit of knowledge. Graduate students are thus engaged not only in a social process that provides society with new ways of looking at the world’s complexity, problems and beauty, but in a personal quest for bettering their lives or expanding their learning and insight.
Recently, people with graduate degrees have been referred to as “highly qualified personnel”. In today’s knowledge economy this level of qualification is a valuable asset for an increasing number of jobs. According to the 2007 National Graduates Survey (Class of 2005), 93 percent of graduates of master’s programs were employed at the time of survey. As one might expect, earnings increase with education levels, with the largest earning premiums between the bachelor and master levels (Bayard & Greenlee, 2009).
Skills required before entering graduate programs
- High academic standing
- Strong commitment to pursuing rigorous research training in a selected subject area
- Enthusiasm and a high degree of interest in learning
- Curiosity, and an open and enquiring mind
- Sound work ethic, integrity and moral standards
- Perseverance and patience
- Maturity and reliability
Representative skills acquired in graduate programs
- Excellent critical thinking skills
- Ability to integrate data and information from multiple sources, and to develop and test hypotheses rigorously
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Skills in a range of analytical techniques using sophisticated instrumentation
- Ability to work with equipment and instruments at tasks requiring precision
- Ability to coordinate or co-supervise the work of others
- Ability to identify problems and to develop and implement innovative solutions
- Ability to work independently and in teams