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Graduate School

Attending graduate school can be an important step in pursuing specific careers.  Before making a decision, it is important to understand the various options and how to best prepare yourself.


  • Types of Graduate Programs

    Academic Master’s & Doctoral Degrees

    Master of Arts/Master of Science (MA/MS)

    Master's degree programs provide a comprehensive education in a particular field. They typically require between 30 and 60 credit hours as well as a thesis, comprehensive exam, or capstone project that involves applying classroom learning to a real-world issue.

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

    Graduate degree programs that result in a PhD typically require four to eight years of extensive coursework and research in a discipline, and culminate with the writing of a dissertation. 

    Professional Degrees

    Master of Business Administration (MBA)

    Prepares students for careers in business. Core subjects include accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and human resources, though specialization can be achieved in other areas.

    Master of Social Work (MSW)

    Prepares students for advanced social work practice. Provides theoretical and practical expertise to function with maximum competence at administrative, clinical, or policy levels in the social welfare fields and/or in the provision of direct services to individuals, families, groups, and communities.

    Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

    A concentrated professional degree for students seeking advanced education prior to becoming practicing artists or designers.

    Professional Doctoral Degrees

    While all doctorates require the completion of a dissertation, some have less emphasis on research, and more on practice in a particular field. Examples of more professionally oriented doctoral degrees include the Doctorate of Psychology (Psy D), Doctorate of Education (EdD), and Doctorate of Social Work (DSW).

    Health Graduate Programs

    Students can apply to health graduate programs that will allow them to work in clinical roles.  Options include a medical doctorate (MD), doctorate in physical therapy (DPT), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Master of Science Physician Assistant (MS). There are also health graduate programs that allow students to work in the non-clinical field which includes Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Health Administration (MHA) or Master of Science in Applied Health Informatics (MS). Visit the Pre-Health Advising office to review the pre-requisite courses needed to be eligible to apply to the necessary health graduate program.

    Law Degrees

    Attending law schools offers the opportunity to pursue a variety of different degrees depending on the type of career an individual wants to pursue in the legal field.  To learn more about applying to law school, visit the Stony Brook University Pre-Law Website

    Graduate Certificate Program

    Graduate certificate programs are generally 12 to 18 months in duration and consist of 3 to 12 courses. You can receive a graduate certificate after successfully completing an integrated course of study in a specific field.

  • Testing and Applications


    The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

    The general test (typically for graduate programs in the arts and sciences) will measure verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing. It is not related to a specific area of study. The GRE subject tests measure knowledge and skill level in a specific area of study (e.g. Chemistry, Psychology).

    Register for the GRE

    The Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)

    This exam measures verbal, mathematical, analytical, and writing skills that you’ve developed over time and helps graduate programs assess your qualifications for advanced study in business and management.

    Register for the GMAT

    Pre-Health and Pre-Law Students

    Visit Pre-Health Advising for information on exams for health related programs (e.g. MCAT, DAT).

    Visit the Law School Admissions Council for information on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

    Preparation Resources for Testing


    Personal Statement

    The purpose of the personal statement, also referred to as the Statement of Purpose or Candidate’s Admission Statement, is to gather information about you outside of your academic performance.  When creating a personal statement, be sure to:

    • highlight your accomplishments and your interest in enrolling in the specific graduate program you have selected.
    • showcase what makes you a unique candidate for the program, while ensuring the statement remains relevant to the topic assigned.   
    • ask another person to review your personal statement for feedback before submitting.  Visit the Writing Center
    Letter of Recommendation

    The letter of recommendation is an important element of an application to graduate school.  Before you ask for a letter of recommendation from a faculty/staff member or a professional supervisor, make sure to:

    • build relationships throughout your academic and professional career and identify individuals who could best write about you and your accomplishments. 
    • share an updated resume and additional details that would assist the individual in writing a letter of recommendation.  Include information about your career goals and why you are interested in the graduate program you have chosen.  
    • provide enough notice for the letter of recommendation and important details regarding application deadlines, how to submit the letter of recommendation, and any additional criteria for the letter. 
  • Financial Resources

    Financial Resources

    Financial Assistance

    Assistantships are usually campus-affiliated work assignments that provide an individual a stipend and often waive tuition and/or other matriculation fees. Assistantships can be offered at both the master and doctoral level.


    Fellowships are typically granted to individuals to cover their living expenses while they carry out research or work on a project. Awards may span multiple years. Awards are usually based on an individual's merit. Fellowships are typically reserved for students in PhD programs.

    Scholarship Awards

    Scholarship awards are based on one or more aspects of several criteria - merit, financial need, discipline of study, career goals or membership within a minority group.


    Loans are available from the government and private sources. Visit Stony Brook's Financial Aid Office website for more information.