If you’re considering graduate school, or are a current graduate student, SWE has a wonderful community for you!
Graduate students in SWE are a diverse group, from masters or PhD students continuing directly after their undergraduate degree, to working professionals returning to school full-time for an advanced degree. They can be young students anticipating their first job in the future, parents balancing grad school with raising a family, or professionals working half-time and completing an advanced degree in their “spare” time.
SWE has a place for all of these students. Continuing collegiate members can continue as collegiates when they start graduate school, or switch to professional membership for a discounted fee. Professionals returning to school can still maintain their professional membership.
Current Graduate Students
SWE has an excellent Graduate Student Community that provides support, grad school advice, SWE advice, and more specifically for grad students. Many SWE sections at universities have ‘graduate groups’, committees or groups within the section that cater specifically to graduate SWE members.
You can find out more about the community on their blog at swegrad.wordpress.com, including details about SWE membership, grad-specific webinars, funding information, and more.
Future Graduate Students
If you are interested in applying to graduate school, the SWE grad blog (swegrad.wordpress.com) is a great place to find out more. Several webinars and workshops at region or annual conferences have covered ‘Applying to Graduate School’, ‘How to Fund your Graduate Education’, and other useful topics. Below is same basic information on applying to graduate school.
Below is the general timeline for preparing for and pursuing graduate school:
Two years before graduate school (i.e. junior year or prior): Begin to find out about graduate school and your career goals. Are you interested in research? Do you want to go to academia or work in industry eventually? What is most common in your field–a PhD or a MS? This is crucial research to figuring out whether you should pursue a master’s program or a doctorate.
If you are at all interested in research, or if you think you may pursue a PhD at some point, consider joining a research lab at your university or getting research experience over the summer. Find out which topics interest you, and most importantly, find out if you actually like researching! It’s not for everyone, and it’s important to find that you before committing to a PhD program.
One year before graduate school (i.e. senior year): Start looking at schools and programs. Talk to faculty at your university about the best programs in your field. If you have a research professor who knows you and your work well, they can help you choose strong schools and some ‘safety’ schools. As you research, contact professors who interest you at those schools. This is an excellent way to get to know them and find out more about the school. Unlike applying to undergrad, the graduate school application process is more like applying for a job. The professors will be the one to read your application and eventually interview you. So, the sooner you network with them and build a relationship, the better your chances with that school!
Fall before graduate school: Application deadlines range from mid-November to December 31. During this time, look at fellowship applications as well, which may have deadlines as early as mid-October. A number of fellowships, including the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, allow seniors to apply, and the application process is very similar to your application for graduate school. Even if you do not get the fellowship, you receive very useful feedback from the reviewers for when you apply again as a first-year graduate student.
January to April 15 (before graduate school): Interview season begins! Programs will contact you as early as January with invitations to interview, or even straight acceptances to their program. In either case, you will be invited to visit their school. In most STEM fields, expenses for these visits are covered by the school, so even if you’ve already been accepted, it’s extremely beneficial to visit and get to know the program. The deadline to accept an offer at a graduate school program is April 15.
Questions about for the graduate community?
Contact the Region J Graduate Student Representative, or visit any of the wonderful SWE grad community resources below:
Facebook page: facebook.com/SWEGrad
The Facebook page is an open interactive community. Most members are very responsive, so if you have questions about grad school, a specific field, or being a graduate student in SWE, ask away there!