Indiana University

Graduate School Decisions & Preparation

Graduate programs prepare students for a specific career such as psychological scientist, licensed mental health care provider, lawyer, doctor, entrepreneur, social worker, or teacher.

So, the only really good reason to go to graduate school is because you have a true interest and commitment to a specific career and you must to go to graduate school to be employed in that field.

How can you know if your interest and commitment are strong enough to make going to graduate school the right decision for you?

A big part of your graduate school decision-making process should focus on career development for three reasons:

  1. You'll need to actively explore careers fields that interest you, meet with professionals, volunteer, and try out careers via internship experiences to know whether a specific career is a good fit for your values, interests, personality and skills - whether you're going to love it enough to make attending graduate school worth your time and money.

  2. Graduate schools want to know that you've thoroughly investigated the specific career path for which their program will prepare you - you'll have to address this issue in the personal statement that you submit with your application.

  3. The answers to the most important questions that undergraduate students have about how to prepare for graduate school differ depending on the career path and graduate degree that you want to work towards:

    • What courses do graduate schools want to see you've done well in?
    • How much do GPA and entrance exam scores matter for graduate school admissions?
    • How much research experience should you get?
    • What kinds of career-relevant internship experiences would be best for your intended career?

    The sooner you can clarify your career and degree goals, the sooner you'll be able to find accurate answers to your questions about how to impress very selective graduate programs.

Do psychology majors have to go to graduate school to have a good career?

No. Nationwide, a majority of psychology majors -- about 6 out of 10 -- will complete their education with a Bachelor's degree. Students who major in psychology also go on to work in law, business, human services, education, criminal justice, information technology, marketing, and medicine & health care. Our psychology majors have gone on to work in pharmaceutical firms, children's museums, major corporations, universities, and hospitals.

Do neuroscience majors have to go to graduate school to have a good career?

No. The Neuroscience degree is designed for students interested in pursuing graduate training in neuroscience, attending medical school, or obtaining a research-related position in biotechnology, the life sciences, or the pharmaceutical industry.

Do you have to go to graduate school to become a psychologist?

Yes. No matter whether your goal is to become a psychological scientist, a clinical or counseling psychologist, a forensic psychologist, a sport psychologist, or some other kind of psychologist you will have to go to graduate school. An undergraduate degree in psychology provides you with broad knowledge of the field. A graduate degree will provide you with training for a career in a specialized area of psychology.

Are students limited to graduate degree programs that match their undergraduate major?

No. Your undergraduate degree in psychology or neuroscience can help you acquire cutting edge skills through courses on the most profound of all questions: the why and how of human behavior and thought. Psychology and neuroscience majors enter a wide variety of graduate programs.

  • Psychology majors who go on to earn a Master's degree (2-year program) are most likely to enter programs in counseling psychology, school psychology, education, business or health but some will go on to other fields.
  • Of those psychology majors who later earn a Doctorate degree (4-year program), about 75% will earn a degree in psychology, but others will earn degrees in medicine, law, business or another field.
    • If you want to major in psychology or neuroscience and attend a graduate school in a different discipline, you should begin researching graduate programs in that discipline and find out which courses and co-curricular experiences they recommend.

      For example, the IU Health Professions and Pre-Law Center (HPPLC) supports students preparing for medical school, law school, or for a variety of health professions including occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, nursing, and more.

Continue to Applying to Graduate School: Timeline & Tasks