Graduate school is an opportunity to pursue your educational interests, specialize in a subject area and skill set, and further your professional development all at once. Whether you have long-term interests in research, academia, or industry, this path is an option to consider after your undergraduate program or after you begin your time pursuing full-time industry role. The resources included can help you strategize your graduate school search.

Preparing for graduate school- what can I do now?

Ways to gain experience

  • Undergraduate research opportunities
  • Informational interviews + job shadowing | faculty + current graduate students
  • Relevant coursework + project experience | individual + group projects
  • Begin search for graduate programs and opportunities

Is graduate school right for me? Am I ready for the time and financial commitments? Graduate school takes time, money and work for a successful experience. Think about the following as you consider pursuing a graduate degree:

  • Goals + long-term career planning
    • Your chosen career field may require an advanced degree for the role itself, or for advancement within the company/organization
  • Specific disciplines + connection to undergraduate experiences
    • What specific topics or interest areas do you have and how has your previous experience shaped your future path?
  • Interests in research + project work
    • Are you motivated by research and project work?
  • Financial costs + time commitments
    • Can you commit to the entire duration of the program? How will you support yourself financially throughout this process?

There are several graduate programs affiliated with engineering disciplines, as well as options that will allow you to meet you long-term career goals:

Types of Engineering Programs:

  • Master of Science (MS) | Thesis v. Non-thesis
  • Master of Engineering (ME)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) | Dissertation
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Engineering Management
  • Graduate Certificates


Where to search? A few resources to get you started:

Although different programs and opportunities may be unique in recruitment and process, the timeline below is a guideline to consider.

Third year | Summer

  • Develop a list of potential schools/ programs of interest
  • Prepare for required entrance exams (if applicable)
  • Drafting of essays for applications
  • Identify those you plan to ask to write letters of recommendation


Fourth year

August/September- finalize list of schools, begin familiarizing faculty + research opportunities at schools of interest, ask faculty for recommendation letters, financial aid considerations, take entrance exams*

October/November- check due dates, have application material reviewed, mock interview (if applicable), research scholarship, fellowship + assistantship opportunities, order official transcripts

December/ January- submit all materials for schools, keep copies, verify letters of recommendation have been sent, track all communication from schools

Spring semester- continue visiting schools, ensure all application material is submitted, visit accepted schools and set meetings with appropriate resources, respond to ALL offers

What do I need to apply?

  • Application- graduate school + specific program
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of intent/purpose
  • Academic transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Application fee
  • Entrance exam (if applicable)

Schedule a Grad School Prep, Resume Assistance or Career Decisions appointment with a CDCR Career Coach


Letters of recommendation

  • Who do I ask?
    • Currently faculty members
    • Employers
    • Advisors
    • GTA/GRA
  • How do I ask + what do I provide?
    • Specific program details + instructions
    • Application timeline
    • Resume/CV + personal statement/statement of intent

Building connections: Finding research opportunities

  • Meeting with faculty + current graduate students
  • Department and program websites
  • Professional associations + organizations

How will I pay for graduate school? How will I support myself financially as a working student?

Research Opportunities

  • Faculty-led
  • Industry connections

Assistantships | potential for tuition reimbursement + stipend

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Graduate Assistantship


Company reimbursement | Companies may provide professional development or education funding opportunities to allow you to pursue a graduate program while being employed full-time.


The Engineering Career Coaching Team is available to meet with you as you navigate your interest in graduate school. Schedule a Grad School Prep appointment via Handshake.