What is the Difference Between Graduate and Professional Schools?

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Many undergraduate students do not really know the difference between graduate school and professional school until they start to research advanced studies options. If you are currently attending school or constructing a plan to return to school, it is important to know how graduate and professional schools differ from one another and which school you need to attend to pursue your dreams. There is plenty of information about both graduate and professional business institutions online, but by reading on, you can find all of the most important information in one location so that you get the straightforward answer that you are looking for.

What Are the Primary Similarities?

Both graduate and professional schools offer students who have already earned the bachelor's degree the opportunity to study advanced curriculum. To apply to both schools you must meet admissions requirements and be able to fund your tuition. While the two types of school are similar in the sense that they offer advanced programs for graduate students, this is where the similarities end.

What Are the Primary Differences in Focus and Curriculum?

The major difference between the two institutions is where the focus lies. If you decide to apply to graduate school and enroll for classes, you will be studying for your Master's degree in a specific area of study. The courses that you take will all be designed to help you master the field of study that you are majoring in. These courses will build your technical knowledge, but don focus as intently on applying the knowledge. Graduate schools are more likely to require a thesis prior to graduation.

Professional schools, such as law school and business school, teach a curriculum that is much more broad and courses are delivered in an effort to prepare students for a career in the field. While the traditional theory is taught through lectures, there is a much greater focus on real-world application of the knowledge gained. Most professional schools also require students to complete professional internships prior to graduation.

What Are the Differences in Admissions Requirements?

Prerequisites and other admissions requirements also differ. When you decide to earn your Master's at a graduate school, you will need to show that you have a foundation of knowledge in the chosen field. You may not need a BA or BS within the exact field, but a related one is a must because you need to have the proper prerequisites before starting advanced coursework. Professional schools are more focused on work experience than reviewing your major. You need to have an accredited Bachelor's degree and an acceptable GPA, but the undergraduate major that you choose is not as important.

It can be overwhelming to decide which program to attend if you do not know which program is right. If you want to study a very specific field or you need to earn your Master's before getting licensed to practice in your state, a graduate institution is right. If you want to work in the professional world and get the hands-on experience, while also learning core information, a professional school is best. Be sure to research and even visit any graduate school or professional school that you are interested in attending, and do not rush your decision.