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Graduate School


Graduate School is the undergraduate school of the 21st Century. With increasing competition in the workforce, having a graduate degree can make the difference that allows you to come in ahead of other competitors in the hunt for a job. The 2004 Census shows that only one of ten people over the age of 25 will likely have a graduate or professional degree. The world of writing theses and dissertations, and taking tests like the MCAT and DAT, can seem daunting at first glance. However, with the proper preparation, you can have great success!

Brigham Young University has a primary focus on undergraduate education, although there are several top-notch graduate programs found here on campus. Whether you are looking at graduate school here, or exploring the possibility of another school for graduate work, the following information will help in determining if graduate school is right for you.


  • Networking with others in the same field of study
  • Opportunities for research conferences, grants and funding
  • Opportunity to become an expert in your field of study
  • Opportunities for leadership/advancement


  • Talk with a professor in your field of interest
  • Visit the University Advisement Center – 2500 WSC, 801-422-3826 (General Academic Graduate Programs)
  • Visit the Pre-Professional Office – 3328 WSC, 801-422-3044 (Health Professions, Medical, Dental, Law, MBA- non BYU-specific)
  • **For a BYU-specific MBA, visit the BYU MBA Advisement Office – 437W TNRB, 801-422-3500
  • Visit the University Career Services Office for additional resources - 2590 WSC, 801-422-3000
  • Search the BYU Graduate Catalog for BYU programs – or contact the BYU Office of Graduate Studies - 105 FPH, 801-422-4091,
  • Check with specific department offices at schools where you may be interested in attending graduate school
  • Each Fall semester, BYU hosts a Grad Fair. Representatives from many schools and programs throughout the country, attend the Fair at BYU to share information with prospective students. This event is held in the WSC Ballroom in late October or early November.

Additional Resources:


Some graduate programs require specific background/majors and/or pre-requisite courses and experience. Each individual school and department has requirements specific to their programs. Check with the school and program of your choice for further information. Department Graduate Coordinators can answer more specific and detailed questions. In order to apply for and be accepted into a Ph.D. program, it is not always necessary to have a Master’s degree.

Examples include:

A music performance major can apply to medical school if he or she has taken the appropriate pre-med courses.

Typically, chemistry and engineering programs require an undergraduate degree in the same field, or one closely related with equivalent preparation.

Programs that are open to a wider variety of majors may include:

  • Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Law School
  • Educational Administration/Leadership
  • Counseling
  • Health Care/Hospital Administration

When thinking about graduate school there at least are five things to consider as part of the application process:

  1. Your GPA - Maintaining a strong GPA will keep the doors open to programs and schools you might want to attend. Remember, however, that your GPA is only one piece of the equation. Admission committees are looking at your entire academic and personal profile. Some will place more value on the GPA than others.
  2. Entrance Exams – There are two types of entrance exams:

    1. General Academic Evaluation GRE - Master’s and PhD’s
    2. Professional program - specific

      • GMAT – MBA Programs
      • LSAT – Law School
      • MCAT – Medical School
      • DAT – Dental School
      • OAT - Optometry School
      • PCAT – Pharmacy School

BYU’s Conferences and Workshops Office offers a variety of Exam Prep Courses for a fee. More information is available by clicking on “test prep” at: Additional prep courses are available in the community.

1. Letters of Recommendation

  • Usually three letters of recommendation are required for submission of an application to graduate school. Many times these letters are academic in their orientation, so the best resource is faculty. START NOW to develop a good relationship with at least three of your professors. Becoming a research or teaching assistant is a great way to interact personally and professionally with faculty. Professional schools may require more letters, and from a variety of letter writers.

2. Personal Statement/Letter of Intent

  • This is what makes you stand out from other applicants. Your personal statement is where you share your interests, passions and unique life experiences and skills. Take up hot air ballooning, travel abroad, give service, speak a language, highlight skills gained from internships and work; all of these combine to make you stand out.
  • General Academic Programs- BYU’s Writing Center staff (4026 JKB) can assist with clarifying the content and refining the technical aspects of your statement.
  • Health Profession, Medical, Dental, Law, MBA- (non BYU–specific)- The Preprofessional Advisement Center (3228 WSC) has an in-house editor who can assist with the technical aspects of your personal statement. Once you provide the content, the editors will help you with formatting. Additionally, frequent writing seminars are available for additional help.

3. Research

  • Because research is a key component of most graduate and professional school programs, having an undergraduate background and experience in this area, will make you a stronger candidate for a graduate program. Most undergrads will get their initial research experiences by assisting faculty with their research projects.
  • Publishing in your field is an excellent credential to reference. Information on Orca Grants and Mentored Student Research can be found at or through department offices.


  • Locate the school/programs of your choice
  • Contact the school about visiting and interviewing
  • Make sure you have completed pre-requisite requirements
  • Download the application or begin the process online
  • Request letters of recommendation from your professors: Allow ample time for this component. Generally you waive the right to see those letters which are written. YOU are responsible for ensuring the letters are received by the mandatory due date.
  • Write your personal statement/letter of intent. Make sure you allow the opportunity for several drafts and revisions.
  • Obtain an official transcript of university coursework from each university you’ve attended.
  • Applications or the application process may include writing samples, portfolios, auditions, and interviews.
  • Pay the appropriate fee when submitting your application.


  • Many graduate students find that they are able to supplement their tuition requirements through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, research and departmental grants, loans, stipends, and fellowships. The entire financial burden doesn’t have to rest on you alone. Federally subsidized student loans are a very common method of financing graduate/professional school education. Contact the financial aid office of the graduate school you will be attending for more information and assistance.


What is a Thesis?

  • “A masters thesis is an in-depth and original research project conducted during your graduate studies. Students generally conduct these projects over the course of several semesters under the guidance of a faculty advisor.” (Retrieved on June 10, 2009 from

What is a dissertation?

  • A dissertation. . . is a document that presents the author's research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. (Retrieved on June 10, 2009 from wikipedia) A dissertation is typically expected to add to the body of knowledge for the discipline.

What is the difference between a Master’s degree and a Ph.D?

What is the difference between an MA, MS, PHD, PA, MD, JD?

I Want to Go into the Medical or Law Field...What Resources Does BYU Offer to Help Me Get There?

  • The Pre-Professional Advisement Center is dedicated solely to helping Pre-Med and Pre-Law students get into professional schools. They can provide you with information on prerequisite courses and entrance exams, as well as contact and application information for various medical and law schools around the country. Advisors are available to help students wanting to go into chiropractic, dental and dental hygienist, medical, occupational therapy, optometry, PA, pharmacy, physical therapy, podiatry, and law schools.
  • Both Pre-Med and Pre-Law advisors can be found in 3328 WSC. To set up an appointment with a Pre-Law advisor, please call (801) 422—2318. Advisors for students going into medical fields can be reached at (801) 422—3044.