Our programme at the Mount provides you with a solid foundation in sociology and anthropology
Required courses in social theory, research methodologies and statistical analysis not only train you for a career in the public and private sector, but are vital to you should you decide you want to further your education by enrolling in a graduate degree programme. Unlike your undergraduate studies which generally focus on a broad range of topics and areas, graduate studies in sociology and anthropology allow you to specialize and fine tune your interests.
In deciding whether to pursue an advanced degree, you may wish to carefully consider some important questions:
Are you reasonably sure of your career goals, or is there a strong possibility that you could change your mind after a taste of the working world?
What are my long-term and short-range professional goals?
Is graduate school necessary for me to achieve these goals?
Will the amount of time and money spent on a program will ultimately translate into greater career mobility and financial possibilities?
Do you have the "right stuff" to succeed in a graduate program?
There is no "typical" student who goes on to graduate school. Your grades and test scores are only a part of the picture that you present to an admissions committee.
Do you have a strong GPA?
Have you taken courses that demonstrate and interest beyond introductory or survey courses? What about directed readings and independent study?
Would work experience enhance your application credentials by offsetting mediocre grades or test scores? In the case of some professional schools, admissions committees are generally as interested in your employment and co-curricular background as in your "numbers".
How confident you are that you will be able to obtain strong letters of recommendation from faculty and others who can candidly and thoroughly showcase your strengths and potential?
Are you willing to meet the extensive research, course work and major paper demands of another academic program?
By going to graduate school, are you simply delaying your career planning and decision-making? Should you go straight to graduate school?
No one can answer this question for you and there are no hard and fast rules. It is a good idea to talk with faculty and fellow students currently pursuing programs of interest to you, in order to hear their perspectives on graduate school.
- What are my motivations for attending graduate school?
Deciding to go to graduate school for the wrong reasons will leave you feeling unfocused and disheartened.
- You haven't decided what kind of career you really want to pursue and think of a university campus as a "safe place". This is what your undergraduate years are for…a time to experiment and explore different options. It can disastrous at the postgraduate level where you are expected to have clearly defined interests leading to an area of specialization.
Peer pressure. This has to be your choice, not something you feel pressured into by your professors, parents or colleagues. Your interests, motivations and passions in attending graduate school are what's really important.
As a way to postpone the job search. Remember, a graduate degree is no guarantee of a job.
You think there's nothing you can do "with a major in..." Keep in mind that your undergraduate education has equipped you with many skills that are highly valued in the workplace, such as research and analysis, critical thinking, and communications.
Graduate school can turn out to be a satisfying and valuable experience.
- You have a clear sense of the career you want to pursue, and if an advanced degree is the ticket to entry into that field. College and university teaching and research, law, medicine, and some positions with the public service are areas in which education beyond the baccalaureate level is required.
- You want to immerse yourself in the study of a particular academic discipline purely for the love of it, and would never forgive yourself if you did not at least give it a try. Remember, you will be spending several years studying and doing research and work in that academic field.
Selecting a Graduate School: Look Before You LeapOnce you're certain that graduate school fits into your career and life plans, you need to find out as much as possible about the program you have in mind. Early in your third year, begin to explore schools offering the type of program you want.
A common concern deals with which institution has the "best" program. There is no single reliable ranking of graduate schools. National rankings do exist, however each is based on different criteria. Therefore, it may be more meaningful to talk to faculty in your field and see which professors are doing research and publishing.
While actual rankings may be somewhat misleading, comparative information about various programs is readily available. As you attempt to gain an overview of the many graduate and professional school programs available, you may find the following resources helpful:
- Consult the library or the SOAN department may have other resources for you to browse. There you should find a comprehensive collection of university catalogs from Canada as well as a selection from institutions abroad.
On the Web:
There are lots of other sites that you may come across, but remember to use a critical perspective when consulting these types of resources.
Programme Specific Resources
You may request catalogs directly from the Admissions Office of the institutions to which you are considering making application.
Many universities host annual Graduate & Professional School Information Days. You may confirm the date with the Graduate Affirmative Affairs Office. Consider attending these events if possible.
It is important to talk with departmental Graduate Coordinators. They are an excellent resource for information on the programme and can help you identify possible strengths and weaknesses in your application that you may want to work on.
Other annual events where you'll be able to meet representatives from grad schools across the country include professional association meetings and academic conferences. Information on dates and locations is available on our website or from your faculty members.
Visit the Campus.
Perhaps nothing can help you get a better perspective than an actual campus visit. There you'll have a chance to observe the following:
Do students and faculty interact productively?
Is faculty easily accessible?
Do the school, campus and community satisfy your lifestyle and extracurricular needs?
Perhaps most importantly: Talk to Current Students. The campus or department you are targeting can arrange meetings or provide phone numbers if a campus visit is not possible. Beyond basic questions, you'll want to determine responsiveness to student opinions and concerns. Do students serve on committees? How well, and by what means, are students informed of academic, administrative and social matters?
Some Possible Criteria for Evaluating Programs
These criteria may help you to decide which graduate programs are best suited to your talents, your ambitions, and at a time of soaring college costs, your pocketbook:
- What are admission requirements?
- How important are GPA and test scores?
- What criteria are used to evaluate and select students?
- Will it be easier to get accepted after gaining work experience?
- What types of students does the program attract? Some schools attract highly competitive people while others foster teamwork and a more holistic portfolio.
What specializations are available?
Does the program focus on theory and original research, or does it stress the practical application of knowledge and skills?
Does the program provide real work experience such as practicums or internships?
Is the curriculum structured or flexible?
Are there opportunities to work on research projects?
What resources, such as computers and laboratories, are available?
Who are they?
What are their credentials?
Do they hold degrees in fields of expertise from leading universities?
What awards, grants and special recognition have they earned? What have they published?
What research projects have they conducted?
Do they hold chairs or professorships?
Does the department have nationally or internationally known scholars in the field?
Do the top scholars in the program teach, or are they primarily involved in research?
Do they actively participate in the graduate school community?
Is there diversity?
What is the faculty/student ratio?
What is the average length of time spent in the program?
Do opportunities exist for specialization in areas of your own interest?
Is the approach theoretical or pragmatic?
Is the university accredited?
Is the program nationally ranked in terms of excellence?
Is the program well established or relatively new?
Who has graduated from the program and what are they doing now?
What is the attrition level?
- What is faculty and student composition?
- Will you have an opportunity to work with students from other cultures?
- What foreign exchange programs are available?
- Is it possible to study foreign languages?
- What multicultural experiences do the faculty bring to the classroom?
- Are international concerns substantially integrated into the curriculum?
Is there a comprehensive reference collection in your area of specialization?
How many volumes?
What special collections?
Is the material accessible?
Is a computerized system available?
How many trained staff members are there?
Are there adequate study facilities?
What about sufficient classrooms and seminar rooms?
Are there areas for student interaction?
Are the surroundings attractive and pleasant enough to endure throughout the program?
What are the tuition and fees?
What financial aid is available in the form of loans, scholarships, internships and work study funds?
What about teaching and research assistantships?
How much is a non-resident tuition?
Considering the weather and political/social climate, do I want to live here for several years?
Would I be happier in a small town or a large urban area?
Does the area offer cultural and recreational activities?
Is this a place where I might want to stay?
What kind of impact will this location have on my family and friends?
What are the employment opportunities in the area?
What career planning and job search assistance is available through the department?
Is there an on-campus career center that offers counseling, job search training, employment leads and library resources?
Does the program provide real work experience such as practicums, cooperative programs or internships to give you solid work experience?
Are career services offered to alumni?