UNLV’s Graduate College

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A historic university library. Photo by Giammarco on Unsplash

Every semester undergraduate students graduate college, while some pursue work with their newfound bachelor’s degree, others make the decision to further their education by attending graduate school.

Graduate school is defined by Kathryn Hausbeck Korgan, Dean of the Graduate College as advanced study in a very specific area of expertise. Undergraduate degrees focus on a major with a curriculum in different disciplines, while graduate programs instead focus on a niche within a discipline.

“It [graduate school] is an opportunity for advanced study to become a specialist and an expert in a particular area,” Korgan explained.  

Career opportunities and leadership positions aren’t the only benefits for those with a graduate degree.

“Lots of research has been done that shows grad school expands career options for people,” Korgan said. “When you have a graduate degree you tend to get hired into higher up positions with more leadership responsibilities.” 

Korgan also stated that lifetime salaries for people with graduate degrees are significantly higher than those without. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics equally reported that those containing a master’s degree made on average $12,000 more a year than those with a bachelor’s degree. 

The difference in wages for individuals holding a master’s degree varies, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that securities, commodities, and financial service sales agents had the biggest wage premium of any of these occupations.

Workers who had a master’s degree earned a wage that was nearly 90 percent higher than that for workers with a bachelor’s degree. Many of these sales agents earned a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), which may be required for high-level jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“As an undergraduate, you learn what everyone else has done in that field, as a graduate student, you get to ask the questions,” Korgan said. “You get the chance to contribute to the body of knowledge in your field,” 

There are many different routes an interested student looking to further their education can pursue. The first is a graduate certificate, which is a small focused area of coursework beyond a bachelor’s degree.

UNLV offers over 40 different graduate certificates which require around 18 credits. 

The next step up is a master’s degree. UNLV offers a wide array of different master’s degrees with some being research-focused, others being creative or professionally focused.

The highest educational degree is a doctorate degree. Many doctoral degrees at UNLV are research-focused Ph.D. ‘s. However, there are also professional doctoral programs, like the doctoral of physical therapy and a doctoral of occupational therapy.

“We have over 185 different combinations of graduate certificates, masters, doctoral and dual degrees,” Korgan said.

Another possible route is to become a non-degree seeking student.

Non-degree seeking students are those who don’t apply for admission to a full degree-seeking program, but rather apply as non-degree seeking which allows them to take classes without being admitted to a degree program. 

“The non-degree-seeking students take classes sometimes just for their own professional or personal curiosity, or for fun, some people take them to add some expertise to supplement whatever career they’re working in and sometimes people take them just to test the waters to see if they like grad school,” Korgan said. 

The credits obtained as a non-degree seeking student can also be applied to a graduate degree in the future if a non-degree seeking student is interested in applying to a graduate program.

Tuition expenses can be a deterring factor for many prospective students, but Korgan knows of other ways students can get a graduate program funded.

“It’s very typical to be supported on what’s called a graduate assistantship or GA, these are an arrangement where students are paid a stipend, and your tuition is paid, and your health insurance is paid, and in exchange, you work for 20 hours a week under the supervision of your faculty member,” Krogan said.  

Although competitive, this opportunity allows students to get a graduate degree for free or at a very low cost.

UNLV’s Graduate College holds several recruiting events each semester to help students prepare for graduate school or answer questions prospective students might have. 

The Graduate College also has a program called, The Grad Rebel Advantage Program, which is a year-long program where students attend several workshops with current graduate school mentors. 

“The whole idea is to help students learn about grad school, help prepare them to be competitive applicants for whatever school they apply to and to help them know what to expect when they transition into grad school” Korgan said. 

For more information about the Grad Rebel Advantage Program visit UNLV’s Graduate College website: Grad Rebel Advantage Program | Graduate College | University of Nevada, Las Vegas (unlv.edu)

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