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Further Education

Are you thinking about further education? Are you ready to pursue a Masters Degree or a Ph.D., or to add a certificate program to your resume? Before starting the application process, you should ask yourself, “What do I hope to get out of additional education?”  

Making the Decision

To do, or not to do? Which school and program is the right one? Here are some good — and not-so-good — reasons for pursuing further studies, as well as factors to take into consideration, to help you ensure that you are making a wise decision.

GOOD
 

  • You have a clear idea of how the additional degree or certificate will help you reach your career goal
  • Your chosen career requires further studies (eg. medicine, law)
  • You need the extra education to progress in your career
  • You are passionate about the subject matter and the advanced degree will provide you with higher skills and knowledge

NOT-SO-GOOD
 

  • You are unsure about what you want to do after you graduate and are using the extra time in school to delay making a decision
  • You assume you are not qualified enough because your job search has been unsuccessful so far
  • You don’t know if the extra schooling will help you in securing a position
  • The education will cost you more than you are likely to be able to earn

Once you make the decision to pursue further education through either graduate school or continuing education courses or certificates, it is time to start the application process.

Admission Requirements and Timelines

Admission requirements vary depending on the program and school you are interested in; contact the school the you are interested in directly for the most accurate information. Most graduate programs will require you to have the following to apply:

  • Undergraduate degree and often the completion of certain prerequisite courses

  • Minimum “B” or “B+” GPA or higher

  • Relevant experience

  • Admissions exam, if applicable

  • Grad school application

Many certificate programs or courses through a school of continuing education, may not require you to have earned an undergraduate degree, or fill out an extensive application before registering; however, some will. It’s best to check with the program you are interested in for its requirements.

Application timelines vary by school and program. While some schools accept applications throughout the year, many schools have a December deadline for a program that starts the following September. Please remember that many schools evaluate applications on a rolling basis, which means that applications are evaluated as they arrive, rather than all at the same time after the final deadline.

The application package includes multiple components, many of which take time to put together. For instance, you will need to request your past institutions to send official copies of your transcripts to your program of interest and every school has their own wait times, which may also depend on time of year. Start early to increase your chance of success.  

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A CV is a summary of your academic background, applied experience, achievements, and interests. In Canada, the name ‘CV’ is typically used for a ‘resume’ written for academic or research environments, fellowships, or grants. Unlike a resume, a CV does not have a page limit and the content is chosen to highlight your fit for an academic or research role.

Personal Statement/Letter of Intent

A personal statement serves a similar purpose to a cover letter, in that it highlights your interest and fit for the role. In this case, it is an essay that provides graduate admissions committees with insight about your personality, motivation for entering a particular program, and fit for their school. It also allows evaluators to assess if you can articulate your thoughts in a clear and concise manner.

The topics usually addressed in a personal statement include:

  • Your fit for the program: Why the committee should choose you over other candidates

  • A highlight of your academic background and relevant experience, skills, qualifications, and achievements

  • Your research interests

  • Your reasons for choosing that particular program and school

  • Your short and long-term career goals

  • How you will be an asset to the program

Letters of Reference/Letters of Recommendation

Letters of reference (or recommendation) are what allow the selection committee to go beyond your grades on a transcript and gain a picture of you as a person. These letters should ideally be from academic referees — former professors or research supervisors familiar with your abilities. They could also be from other individuals who can speak to your fit for the program and area of study you are pursuing. Take care and choose appropriate references — a great reference can really make your application stand out.

Tips on References:

  • 2–3 references are usually required

  • Notify your references early

  • Include professors and professionals who can attest to your academic ability and fit for a program

  • Verify with the chosen individual that they will give you a strong reference

  • Send your references a thank you once their letter is sent

Admissions Exam

Some programs and professional schools require you to write an admissions exam and submit those scores to the school along with your application. The minimum scores required are typically indicated by the school, but for more competitive programs, they may only accept students with scores that are much higher than the minimum posted.

These are the exams typically required:

Exam

Type

Dental Admission Test (DAT)

Dental School

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)             

Business School

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

Graduate School

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Law School

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Medical School

Admission Interviews

Many programs require you to do an in-person interview before being accepted to their program.  For tips on how to best prepare for this interview, see our thoughts on Interview Prep

When you are preparing for an admission interview to a graduate-level program, here are some key things to keep in mind that the admission committee is looking for in candidates:

  • Intellectually curious
  • Passionate about your field
  • Able to successfully complete the program of study
  • Likely to positively contribute to the field post graduation
Scholarships and Awards

There are a variety of scholarships and awards available at Ryerson to assist you with financing your education. Eligibility requirements vary, but often include academic performance and level of financial need. For scholarships based solely on academic performance, you generally don’t need to apply and will be considered automatically.  Applications for awards with other criteria are available from the administrative office of the specific department or school.

Overall, when you are putting your application together, keep in mind that admissions officers are looking for candidates that will do well in their program of study and who will then positively contribute to the field post graduation.

Before choosing to go to graduate school and putting together your application, make sure that you know what you want to study and how that program of study will help you meet your career goals.

 

For assistance with your graduate school application, or curriculum vitae, see our events calendar for relevant activities or book a one to one appointment with one of our Career Education Specialist.

 

CONTINUING EDUCATION

Ryerson’s own Chang School of Continuing Education offers certificate programs, degree credit courses, and individual courses that can help you supplement your education without the time and resources required of a graduate degree.  

Earning a professional designation can enhance your career prospects and resume, serving as proof of your skills and knowledge in a particular subject area. The Chang School offers courses toward accreditation by a number of professional institutes and associations.