Making it to college graduation is seen as a major accomplishment that is also accompanied by the stress of finding a career, moving up in the world or choosing a graduate degree and attending grad school.
Weber State University has added more than just graduate degrees in the past year, but the university now has a total of 17 graduate programs in a variety of fields.
Sarah Steimel, Master of Professional Communication program director and chair of the graduate council, said more students should consider the options graduate school has to offer.
“I think we have a lot of different options for students who want to pursue additional education, to really give them a leg up in whatever professional role they’re in,” Steimel said.
With graduate degrees in accounting, athletic training, business administration, communication, computer engineering, computer science, criminal justice, education, electrical engineering, English, health administration, nursing, radiological sciences, respiratory therapy, taxation and a new master’s in social work, the options are endless.
Many of these graduate degrees also have multiple emphasis areas to fit students’ needs.
“We have a wide range of graduate students, from all different backgrounds and traditional and nontraditional categories,” Steimel said.
WSU also has many degrees that no other institution in Utah has, including the respiratory therapy program, the cardiac specialist emphasis in radiological sciences and fully online programs.
Each program and college has different requirements and dates of when and how students should apply. For example, the Master of Professional Communication deadline is March 15 for summer or fall semester, while Master of Health Administration is April 1 for the following fall semester. Some, such as the Master of Social Work, are as early as Dec. 15.
Camila Reyes, a WSU student who has applied the University of Arizona for a Master of Arts in Library Science, said she doesn’t have the option to move, so she had to find a school that would fit that need.
“They have online curriculum, and they are super affordable compared to other ALA credited schools,” she said.
The WSU Academic Affairs website says that “Outstanding faculty, limited class size and affordable tuition provide a world-class graduate education defined by quality, accessibility and flexibility.”
A current WSU graduate student, who wished to remain anonymous, said they chose Weber because the program best fit their needs and interests.
Steimel said students talk about having smaller class sizes so students can receive better feedback from professors. Other points that put Weber above the rest is the affordability and the connection to the local economy, which helps students to get a leg up in a professional setting.
According to WSU Institutional Research, 4.6% of degrees awarded by WSU in 2020 were master’s degrees.
Aubree Rowley, a WSU senior who recently got accepted into Chatham University for their physician’s assistant program, said her love of healthcare pushed her to apply to grad school.
Rowley also said that aligning with the school’s values was important in making her decision.
One of the challenges Rowley faced when applying to grad school was feeling confident enough to get in.
“I kind of went through a big phase of imposter syndrome because I genuinely was like ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’” Rowley said.
She said that applying to grad school was complex and that both the emotional side and the actual application process were hard, but it weeds out applicants that may not be dedicated.
Steimel said those students who love learning and want to focus more in depth on a topic would really love and benefit from grad school.
WSU looks at and accepts all kind of students for graduate programs, but certain programs need some clinical experience. Others won’t require students to have the same undergraduate degrees.
Steimel encourages students to at least brainstorm and consider the idea of a master’s or doctorate program. She said to meet with an advisor and do some research on what degree could be right for the student.
“Sometimes students wrongly wonder, you know, ‘Could I do it?’ or ‘Am I cut out for it?,’ and I think Weber has programs that are incredibly high quality but are also incredible supportive of students’ success,” Steimel said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting school and the financial burden that comes with higher education, continuing one’s education can be difficult, but has been worth it for this grad student.
“Don’t wait to apply, the sooner the better,” the anonymous grad student said.