What is a Grad Student?

Apparently, this very subject is searched quite often on Google. There aren’t many sources that really go into what a grad student is and why they are even a thing. Today, I want to discuss with you what it means to be a grad student. But first, we must talk about what a grad student even is.

What a graduate student is

So, grad students are simply students that have finished undergrad and have thought that it would be a good idea to continue their education. Grad students are usually individuals that want to get to a more academic job position or someone that wants to be more competitive in the working world.

Being considered a grad student can be a very broad term. There are all kinds of graduate students out there, so let’s go over a few.

What is a Master’s Students

Master’s students are usually only in the academic field a max of 2 to 3 more years. Their degree goes more in depth into what they want to do a career in. For someone like me, a master’s will get you a better position in the engineering field and you’ll probably be making a bit more money. Master’s students include people getting MBA’s as well. Some master’s programs can be online or in person. They tend to only course based, though, you can do research based ones as well.

Course Based Master’s

This is the most common type of master’s program. This is usually for people that just want a master’s and then they head off to an industry job. Sometimes people will go this route for research positions, though. For non science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors, you’ll probably only have course work.

Research Based Master’s

So this master’s student will probably take a few less classes, but make up those credits by doing research at the end. These students tend to want to go into research after their master’s or start a PhD. Many STEM majors go this path because they want to get into research afterwards.

What is a PhD Student

So a PhD student is a grad student that is doing a ton of research and advancing their field of study. PhDs can be done after getting a Master’s or you can go right into it after undergrad. This grad program is much longer than than a Master’s and there is way more that goes into it. These grad students are usually going to do research or teach after they graduate. Grad student’s pursuing a PhD must be able to publish data, teach, write a dissertation and defend that dissertation. At the end, they are given the title “Doctor”.

This grad program can take you a very long time to finish. On average, a doctorate will take 5 to 8 years to complete. So, you’ll be a grad student for a long time. These programs are usually done on campus. Some PhD programs are online. For any STEM major, you will spend a great deal of time on campus and in your labs.

What are Professional Students

This is a bit of a gray area when it comes to calling this group of individuals grad students. These colleges tend to train individuals to be something rather than just teach them things that they want to know. Examples of these would be medical school and law school. These are graduate students though. They may want to be referred to as professionals. Grad school for them is a bit different than master’s students and doctoral students. The professionals take courses and labs that make them prepared to go into a certain field. A master’s just get’s you a degree and some more knowledge and a PhD get’s you research skills. A professional degree focuses on them becoming a role like a medical doctor or lawyer.

These programs usually last longer than a Master’s, but sometimes much shorter than a PhD. You will likely have to pass an exam at the end to get your license in the field which you studied. For example, law school, you take the Bar.

So what is a grad student really?

Grad students are just those that are trying to advance their degree beyond the typical bachelors. There are hundreds of reasons that people go to grad school ranging from pay increase, wanting to learn a new skill, and even boredom. Grad school is here to help introduce you to more complex ideas and help you get a better understanding of them. These skills are wonderful to have and highly sought after by employers.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you know a little more about what a grad student is. Many people just don’t really know what one is and that’s very surprising. If you don’t know much about me, I am currently a grad student so I like to tell people what exactly I do. If you want to read more about me, check out my About Me page (link here).

2 thoughts on “What is a Grad Student?

Leave a Reply