Thinking About Graduate School?

There are many things to consider when applying to graduate school. We’d like to help you find the best fit by offering some tips and resources.

Graduate school can be exploratory in many ways. Your academic interests and professional goals will shift. The more flexible you are, the more you can engage in academic and professional opportunities available in graduate school. That will help you be successful in applying your graduate degree to your career.

Consider some of the questions below — and how Carolina matches up to your needs and interests. We have a lot to offer, so we look forward to your application if we’re the right fit!

What are you looking to study? Why?

Think about what you want to study and why. Seek out those universities that offer your programs of interest. This is important for finding the best place for you to thrive academically and for submitting the most competitive application you can.

The Graduate School has over 80 programs offering more than 160 advanced degrees. We welcome you to explore all options available to you.

What are you looking to pursue with your degree? In the short-term? In the long-term?

As societal needs change, professional opportunities change as well. Knowing how you want to apply your degree in the future will help you make thoughtful decisions about graduate study. Having a sense of your short- and long-term goals, even as they evolve, will help you find value in your degree.

As you research graduate programs, check out program outcomes: where alumni are working, time to degree, and satisfaction. Ask whether the program offers opportunities for current students to connect with alumni. Reach out to current students and find out where they’re headed with their degrees.

What kind of academic and professional opportunities are you seeking?

From research with renowned faculty, to teaching on campus, to practicum and internship opportunities, different experiences will enrich your time in graduate school. Explore what opportunities are built into your programs of interest to apply your knowledge in meaningful ways.

The Graduate School offers significant professional development programming to support students pursuing a wide range of post-graduate activities. The goal of this programming is to help students develop core competencies in communication, academic development, leadership and professionalism, and career development — key skills for any career trajectory.

What other campus and community resources are you interested in?

Think about what else you need from your campus and the local community when considering where to attend graduate school. Whether you’re interested in accessing the gym, finding childcare and schools, joining student government, or volunteering at the community garden, take time to learn if your overall needs will be met.

For a basic overview of the many resources available at UNC-Chapel Hill, check out the CHART Resource Guide, which focuses on key areas we hope all graduate students will think about during their time at Carolina: community, health and wellness, academic success and professional development, resources and resilience, and The Graduate School.

What do you need in terms of your immediate environment?

Consider the following factors when deciding where to attend graduate school: region of the country/world, weather, closeness to family and support networks, urban vs. suburban/rural, diversity, public transportation, and access to activities.

Situated in Chapel Hill and within the Research Triangle area, Carolina offers a blend of urban and college town life. Whether you’re a fan of food, music, nature, athletics, or theater, a lot can be found nearby. Public transportation is free within Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and other adjacent neighborhoods, and affordable for access to other areas in the Triangle. For weekend trips and short breaks, the campus is situated several hours from the beach or the mountains. If you get a chance to visit, touring the campus will allow you to explore what Carolina has to offer.

What do you need in terms of your social communities?

Whether you’re looking for other students with shared interests, a parents group, a professional network, other students of color, a religious community, or any other support network, research what campuses have to offer. Graduate programs often have active student groups that build community. Universities have organizations to help students establish support to navigate graduate student life.

Through its various initiatives, Diversity and Student Success at The Graduate School actively provides support for students across diverse populations — underrepresented minority students, international students, first-generation students, LGBTQ students, and military-affiliated students. The Graduate and Professional Student Federation is a great opportunity for students to connect across disciplines and address graduate student issues together. Heel Life will allow you to find student organizations regardless of interest, particularly those directed at graduate and professional students.

What are the expected costs? How will you cover those costs?

Research and compare the cost of programs and the cost of living in areas you’re considering. Campuses also offer funding and financial aid opportunities for graduate students — fellowships, grants, awards, federal/private loans, and research/teaching assistantships.

UNC-Chapel Hill provides information on tuition and fees, as well as cost of living within the local community. In addition to offering funding opportunities for prospective students, The Graduate School offers resources on funding basics to determine overall costs of attendance. Carolina strives to be transparent so that students can plan and budget accordingly.

What are additional readings and resources you should check out as you think about applying to graduate school?

A Guide for Potential Grad Students: Should You Go To Graduate School?” Peterson's, January 3, 2018.

Graduate School and You: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students.” Council of Graduate Schools, 2014.

Seligman, Amanda I. Is Graduate School Really for You?: The Whos, Whats, Hows, and Whys of Pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.