To Grad School or Not to Grad School?

Today I have a super on point guest post from my Cambridge Sponsor Caitlyn from Chem Grad Boom


Hey there Duchess readers I am honored to be guest posting over here today on a topic that is a HUGE decision for the about to be college grads out there: Graduate School and what you need to consider before going.

Just last week I had this mental battle going on with myself trying to figure out if going for my PhD would be worth it or if finishing my Masters would be the end of my graduate school adventure. Here the key points  you should consider before deciding if graduate school is where you want to go after undergrad.

 Going on to get a postgraduate degree will mean a pay increase when your out of college. For my degree (Chemistry) the best representation of the pay differences is in the chart below.


The pay difference shouldn’t be all that you consider because with graduate school there are cost. Some degrees you will be fully funded with tuition and a stipend, but if your not fortunate to have that, consider the debt that your going in and if it will pay off 5 years down the road.

Does your career require you to have a graduate degree?
One huge thing to consider is do you even need a graduate degree for the career path that you want to follow. I want to work as a conservation scientist in a museum, with this goal I have to have a PhD to get in the door for anything more than a low paying internship. So for me I knew that I had to go onto a PhD to try to make it into the career that I want. On the other hand my BF seems to have it figured out and getting his BS in Computer Science is all that he needs for job he wants, so graduate school would have been a waste. Make sure to look into jobs that you hope to have and see what their requirements are many may just want a BS with experience, while some may require a graduate degree.
Can YOU handle graduate school?

Possibly the most important thing to consider is if graduate school is right for YOU. I found myself loving the idea of research and independent thinking during my last two years of undergrad, which is why I continued to go on to graduate school. Graduate school is about  growing your skill-set/knowledge that you have from undergrad and finding an area to focus on. Even though I love grad school (so far) it is an everyday challenge. At times I have thought that going out and getting a job would be much easier than having to go into the lab at 3 am (wish I was joking) to finish up a measurement. Getting a job would solve lots of issues, like  getting a real paycheck, adding experience to your resume and being done with school. All of which are things that you need to take into consideration before deciding. 
Thinking back now I have no idea if 3 years ago I would take the same path that I am on now. I look at friends with jobs and ‘real-world’ lives and wonder “what if?” My biggest tip is to really evaluate what you want in life and whatever path you take it can always change. Go out and work for a year then go to graduate school or go to get your Masters (only 2 years) and then get a job. Whatever your choice just make sure that it is something that makes you happy!

Thanks Caitlin! 


  • Miche Renee

    Love this. You’re totally right, there are SO many things to take into consideration. For me, to do the career I wanted to do, I needed a graduate degree (I’m a mental health therapist), I did have a graduate assistantship but I do also still have student loan debt that I’m currently drowning in. Grad school was tough, but I’m glad to be in a career that I like, even if I’ll be giving half my salary back to the government lol

    Miche from Buttons and Birdcages

  • Tracy O’Neill

    I’m a grad student now, focusing on medieval history. I hope to teach (at a university) someday so a graduate degree is necessary. I agree, it is very expensive and intense! While I love the experience, I’m looking forward to working!