Graduate Schools (MS, Ph.D.)

Post-baccalaureate education is almost compulsory for anyone who wishes to be involved in health careers. With advanced degrees, individuals may seek employment as administrators, research scientists, laboratory technicians, and educators. For further assistance in selecting specific career options, contact UNC Asheville's Career Center and talk to your departmental advisor.

Choosing a Program

One of the most difficult issues is determining which graduate program and school is most appropriate for you. By the end of your junior year you should have a grasp of the major subdisciplines in your major and should begin narrowing your choice down with respect to subdiscipline (e.g., ecology versus cell biology, organic versus physical chemistry, data science vs machine learning, etc). Hopefully at this time you will have narrowed your primary interests to the point where you can begin exploring specific programs at universities

If you are not fully sure what sub-disciplines interest you, spend some time in the library or on the web reading abstracts in specialty journals to get a better feel for current research. Most professors at research institutions have web pages that explain their specific areas of interest, so spend time exploring websites for details. If you find a school and program that seems ideal, contact a professor via email to introduce yourself, to express your interest in their laboratory's work, and to determine if there is room for another graduate student in the lab. Plan to apply to several schools that range in quality and acceptance standards. If you are accepted to two or more programs of your choice, then campus visits may be in order before making your final choice.


Acceptance to graduate programs is highly competitive and is based primarily on your grade point average, your performance on the Graduate Record Examination, and recommendations and evaluations from faculty. Some schools require scores for both the general and advanced GRE exams, others do not. These exams are normally taken during the summer or fall of your senior year. The advanced GRE (subject test) specifically tests your knowledge of your major. Study guides with sample test questions are available in bookstores or over the Internet. Your advisor may be helpful in providing hints on how to prepare for this exam.


Most graduate schools offer special incentives to pay for the costs of graduate school. Typically, when you are admitted into a graduate program you will be offered a teaching assistantship (TA) or a research assistantship (RA) and a tuition waiver. The stipends vary considerably. A number of foundations and federal programs offer grants or fellowships for graduate students. You should begin exploring these possibilities during your junior year.