As more students complete their undergraduate studies, many wonder what the next step should be. Should they step directly into the job market or should they consider more education? The question of whether to go to graduate school looms overhead. With tuition fees and several more years worth of studies, grad programs are a considerable commitment. The decision to apply should not be made lightly. Here’s a list of five of the most common reasons you should go to grad school.

Distinguish yourself in the market

With more people attending college, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself from other job candidates. More degrees than job prospects means graduates with bachelor’s degrees are competing against graduates who hold masters and doctorates even for entry-level positions. At a stage in society where holding a bachelor’s degree has become a norm, it’s important to distinguish yourself among candidates. Pursuing a graduate degree shows that you’ve taken initiative in furthering your education—and it might just end up helping you further your career.  

Academic and professional development

While your undergraduate degree provides you with qualifications in your area of study, graduate school allows you to hone your development within your field. Unlike undergraduate programs, which may have emphasized general education or interdisciplinary studies—both of which are crucial to supplementing a well-rounded education—graduate education offers a more in-depth and rigorous exploration of your field, allowing you to further your expertise.

In addition to the academics, graduate school also provides you with professional growth. Many programs offer internships, conferences, teaching experience, research experience, and more. All of these opportunities foster your professional development by providing you in-field experience, and also allow you to network with the people you encounter.

Explore a different discipline

Though many people pursue graduate work in the field they majored in during their undergraduate programs, graduate school doesn’t need to be a means of locking students into their fields. Many programs accept students from other disciplines, as long as they display academic prowess and dedication. As a result of this fluidity, students are able to explore other disciplines they are seriously considering joining.

Forge connections

Just as undergraduate programs provide means of networking, so do graduate programs. You’ll not only forge connections with your graduate cohort, you’ll also have access to esteemed professors and other in-field professionals.

Contribute scholarship

With graduate school comes more in-depth studies and opportunities for research. Whether you’re working alongside professors or developing your own thesis and research, graduate programs provide you the opportunity to actively contribute scholarship within your field. This not only establishes your presence within academia, but can also lead to you becoming a prominent scholar.