College degrees are typically broken down into two divisions: graduate and undergraduate. Undergraduate degrees include associate and bachelor’s degrees. Graduate degrees are more advanced-level degrees. The different types of graduate degrees include master’s degrees and doctoral degrees.

A more focused area of study

An undergraduate program is often designed to encompass a wide range of different subject matters, with “general education” courses in particular providing students with lots of room to explore a diverse assortment of topics. By contrast, a graduate degree is typically more focused and involves detailed study in a specific area — generally one that relates to the student’s current or intended career.

While the exact structure can vary depending on the school and type of degree, a graduate degree typically has an emphasis on “hands-on” learning tactics such as research, fieldwork, independent study, and an internship or other on-the-job training. Many graduate programs also involve a mandatory thesis, dissertation, or capstone project.

Why pursue a graduate degree?

People decide to earn a graduate degree for a variety of reasons. They may want to fulfill requirements for their chosen career or job title or hope to advance to a higher level in their current field. In some fields, specific types of graduate degrees may be required for certain job categories or positions.

Other people may want to expand their knowledge in an area of interest or would like the opportunity to conduct research at a more advanced level.

Graduate degrees at Penn State

Many schools offer graduate degrees, but they are not all equal. Graduate programs vary widely in critical areas such as faculty expertise, strength of curriculum, and support services. When considering a graduate degree program, research both the school and the specific program.

You want a graduate program that will prepare you well to succeed at your professional goals, while also adhering to the high academic standards that matter to employers or professional certification organizations. Penn State has been awarding graduate degrees since 1863 and has been providing students with an excellent graduate-level education for more than 150 years. A pioneer in the graduate education space, Penn State has a reputation for academically rigorous programs that impress employers.

Why choose Penn State World Campus?

Penn State World Campus offers dozens of graduate degree programs — including more than 50 master’s degree programs — that can be completed totally online. Choose from graduate programs in a range of exciting and rewarding fields, including higher education, nursing, homeland security, and software engineering.

In addition, we also have many graduate-level certificate programs. These can be used as a professional credential on their own, but many students use them as an interim step to build their qualifications while earning credits that can be used toward a degree.

Penn State World Campus offers the high academic standards you would expect from any graduate program at Penn State. We also provide a range of valuable support services to help students succeed, including career counseling, academic advising, technical assistance, mental health support, and a variety of clubs and interest-based organizations.