U Grad Students Highlight Differences Between Undergraduate and Graduate School


Frank Gardner

University of Utah campus. (Photo by Paige Gardner | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Stephanie Hong, News Writer


The University of Utah graduate school has more than 200 degrees provided for master’s and Ph.D. programs. According to the U Graduate School website, the number of students currently enrolled in the U Graduate School Program is about 8,000.

One of the 8,000 is Olosengbuan Obuhoro, who is in the Ph.D. Program of Occupational and Environmental Health.

“A graduate degree in industrial hygiene is more focused on advanced skill development and solely focuses on this subject area,” Obuhoro said.

According to Obuhoro, graduate school is more focused on critical analysis, thinking and thorough input into research.

“Therefore, admission requirement focuses on GRE standardized test scores, writing samples, research proposals and letters of recommendation,” she said.

Additionally, Obuhoro said coursework in graduate school is more specialized, students are mentored by professors and there is a potential for higher earnings after graduating.

“The graduate school is within the university — it is not considered a stand-alone entity,” she said. “The difference between graduate school and undergraduate programs are the exceptions required in each step of the graduate program in acquiring an advanced degree. Also, another difference is the cost of tuition.”

Joy Ji Won Oh earned a master’s degree in science in information systems from the U. While the GRE and GMAT, graduate school entrance exams, are not necessarily required for applying, Oh strongly recommends sending them to potential grad schools for scholarships.

“I believe that the most critical condition to have is your robust and determined attitude to study and research your field because pursuing a graduate degree is a great challenge,” Oh said.

In her time as a master’s student, Oh developed a Capstone Project.

“It is a three-semester-long career development program that expands students’ understanding of business intelligence and analytics, software and system architecture, product and process management and IT security,” she said.

Oh’s project worked with Utah Transit Authority. She gathered, processed and analyzed a large dataset utilizing Cross-Industry Standard Process for Data Mining, building a dashboard for data visualization.

“[I] leveraged agile methodology and two-week sprint cycles to complete development then presented findings to [the] project client,” Oh said. “This project helped me [get] hands-on experience at a professional workplace.”

According to the U graduate school website, the master’s programs require students to devote a minimum of 30 credit hours to their graduate courses, and the candidate is required to maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA in course work listed on the Program of Study for their degree.

The website also states that “Candidates for the Ph.D. degree ordinarily must complete no fewer than three full years (six semesters) of approved graduate work.” Also, for a doctorate, if a supervisory committee finds a graduate student’s preliminary work deficient, the student may be required to register for and complete supplementary courses that do not carry graduate credit.

“Graduate school is not an out-of-the-loop thought,” Obuhoro said. “If you have intellectual curiosity into a subject area or field of study, then graduate school is for you. You can contribute to knowledge, pursue your interest, and be better qualified in the workplace.”

Oh encourages students who are currently pursuing an undergraduate degree to take any graduate course of interest or join research efforts with professors in their area of interest.

“Pursuing a graduate degree can be fun or difficult, depending on your mindset,” Oh said. “If you’re determined, make your bold move. It is challenging, but it is a huge accomplishment that you will never regret.”


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