Every year more and more graduate programs are being established in an ever-increasing number of fields and subspecialties. These programs aim to directly train and prepare their students for a particular professional field. The emphasis is not on creating pure knowledge in an academic sense. Instead, these programs often draw on actual cases and offer opportunities to apply knowledge through internships or projects. Professors in these programs can include those who are practitioners in their industry with years of experience.
Professional schools also tend to value work experience alongside academic accomplishment. It is not uncommon for students in these programs to apply for programs after working for a couple years—or for many years. They are often able to draw on their work experience to contribute real-life examples and insight into how theory connects to praxis. Students who take the time to think about what they can gain directly from a professional graduate degree will also be able to tailor their assignments and final thesis/project to address issues faced in their current or future profession.
Most professional degrees are at the Master’s level, though there are a few doctoral level “practitioner’s degrees”, such as PsyD (Psychology), PharmD (Pharmacy), EDD (Education). Advising and information for JD (Law
) and MD (Medicine
) programs are maintained separately.
Examples of professional programs include degrees in Business (MBA), Education (MA, MS, MAT), Public Administration (MPA), Public Policy (MPP), Public Health (MPH), Architecture (MArch), Engineering (MEng), and Divinity (MDiv). You’ll also find specialized Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) degrees in Genetic Counseling or Art Therapy or Information Science, just to name a few.