Going Back to Grad School at 25 [2021 Guide]

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Going back to grad school at 25 can be a big jump, but it’s an endeavor that often pays off with both professional and personal rewards. Getting a graduate degree may lead to higher pay or new job opportunities.

Going Back to Grad School at 25

Earning a higher degree may also develop your personal satisfaction as you build your knowledge base, explore challenging problems, and push yourself to accomplish goals.

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At any age, a return to graduate school can be well worth the effort.

How to Go Back to Grad School at 25

Graduate school students studying in a library

Going back to grad school at 25 may be a goal worth pursuing to help you reach your personal and career goals. Whether you’ve always had higher education in mind or have just started to think about the possibilities that a graduate degree could offer, your age shouldn’t act as a deterrent.

While going back to school as an adult may present challenges—such as kids, full-time employment or a mortgage— that you might not have had fresh out of high school, you can still succeed as a grad student.

Putting a plan in place may help you more smoothly navigate the journey back to the classroom. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Explore programs of study. There may be a few different types of degrees related to your area of interest, and you may even be able to select a concentration opinion. Doing some research can help you figure out what type of degree would best suit your career goals.
  2. Learn the requirements. Getting into grad school may require a minimum bachelor’s GPA, a certain amount of professional experience, or GRE or GMAT scores. Different schools have different admissions criteria, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet the requirements of the first school you see.
  3. Consider online school. Grad school doesn’t always look the same as it did a few years ago. These days, many adult learners choose online studies because online programs offer more flexibility than most on-campus programs. You may want to consider whether or not online grad school is the best option for you.
  4. Send applications. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a handful of schools that you prefer, it’s time to start submitting applications. Applying to a few different schools may increase your chances of receiving an acceptance letter.
  5. Look for financial aid. When you’re juggling tuition bills and adult responsibilities, government aid and scholarships may make a significant difference in your grad school success. You can fill out the FAFSA and may also want to look around for private scholarships or fellowships.

You are able to go back to graduate school at your own pace. If you want to fly through these steps in a few weeks, you can do that. If you’d rather spread out your research and preparation over several months, that’s fine too.

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The same goes for earning your degree. You’ll probably find both part-time and full-time enrollment options for your field of study. Selecting the approach that works best for your schedule and goals can help you fit grad school into your life at 25.

Should I Go Back to Grad School?

Graduate school students studying together

Going back to graduate school is a big decision. Before you invest your time and money in grad school, you may want to take time to evaluate whether now is the right season in life for you to pursue further education.

If you identify with any of the reasons in this list, you may be a good candidate for going back to grad school at 25:

  • You want to increase your salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a bachelors degree is $67,860 while those with a graduate degree earn an average of $80,340 each year.
  • You have a specific career move in mind. If you’ve reached the limit for advancement in your field with your current level of education, it may be time to earn a degree that can help you take the next step toward roles that involve more leadership or responsibility.
  • You want to enter a new field. Making a shift to a different line of work doesn’t have to involve getting a second bachelors degree. Instead, you may be able to earn the necessary credentials by getting a graduate degree.
  • You are interested in networking opportunities. Going to graduate school can help you build industry connections that may lead to exciting new job openings or partnerships with other business leaders.
  • You’d like to contribute research to your field. Publishing research is one way to make a far-reaching impact in your field. Getting a graduate degree can open up opportunities to lead research studies.
  • You want to accomplish a personal goal. If going back to school is something you’ve always wanted to do, then graduating with an advanced degree could fulfill that dream.

Should you go back to grad school right now? Only you can say for sure. There are many more reasons than the ones listed here. You’ll probably be most successful in a graduate program if you identify your personal motivation and keep it in the forefront of your mind throughout your studies.

Are Online Graduate Programs Legitimate?

Graduate school student studying online

Yes, you can certainly earn a reputable degree through online study! In an online program, you’ll cover the same topics that you would in an on-campus program, and you’ll complete similar assignments. In fact, at some universities that offer both classroom and digital experiences, the same faculty members teach both types of classes.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all online programs are created equal. To make sure that you’re choosing one of the best schools, you may want to take a look at its accreditation status.

Graduate school students studying together online

In particular, regional accreditation is a sign that a school meets high standards of quality education. An accredited degree is widely respected by employers and other schools.

Not only can online colleges receive regional accreditation, but some of their programs may be eligible for programmatic accreditation as well. This is an industry-specific type of accreditation.

Programmatic accreditors grant this type of recognition to schools that meet specific standards for that industry. Besides, your degree won’t specify how you took your classes. Rather, it will simply serve as a testament to your advanced knowledge and your commitment to hard work and personal development.

Working Full Time and Going to Grad School

Grad School student studying online

Going back to college to enroll in graduate school doesn’t have to mean quitting your job. Many professionals manage to balance both work and school. The key is finding a program that complements your work schedule.

If you’re interested in on-campus studies, you may look for a school in your local area. That way, you can commute to classes instead of relocating. It may be helpful to find a program with evening or weekend courses so class times won’t conflict with your work hours.

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Alternatively, you may consider online study. You can log on from anywhere—no commute required—during your non-working hours. Plus, online schools often build their calendars around short, flexible 8 week semesters.

Graduate Degree Benefits

Professional getting accepted at a job interview

There are many good reasons, both personal and professional, to go back to school at age 25.

Some of the top benefits of going to graduate school include:

  • Breaking into a new field
  • Earning more money
  • Getting to study a subject that interests you
  • Preparing to publish research
  • Proving to yourself that you can do it
  • Setting a good example for family and friends
  • Qualifying for promotions

Whether you want to earn higher wages or achieve a personal goal, getting a graduate degree may help you do it.

Is Financial Aid Available for Graduate School?

Financial Aid Available for Graduate School students

Yes, there are financial aid opportunities available for students of any age who qualify. A robust student aid package can make it easier to afford school while also keeping up with your regular bills.

Government aid is a top source of help. You may qualify for state and federal grants and loans. To learn more about your eligibility for government programs, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You can also apply for scholarships or fellowships, including ones targeted at adult learners. Finally, you may consider asking whether your employer will contribute to your educational costs. Your workplace may have a vested interest in your academic endeavors.

Is 25 Too Old for Grad School?

Grad school students working together

There’s no such thing as being too old for grad school. Many people have earned master’s degrees or doctorates long after turning 25 and have gone on to contribute extensive bodies of work to their fields.

You, too, still have plenty of time left for a graduate degree to benefit your professional life. Even still, going to grad school after working is different than enrolling in college fresh out of high school.

You may need a more flexible college schedule so that it will be easier to balance school, work, or family. Night classes, weekend classes, or online courses can help provide that flexibility.

How Hard Is Grad School?

Grad school students studying together in a library

The challenge of earning a degree will depend on the program and what you are studying.

Some programs have a reputation for being harder than others, but whether that holds true for you may depend on your strengths and interests. You’ll likely find grad school more manageable if you select a program that matches your personal aptitudes.

Grad school often requires a good deal of organization and self-motivation, especially if you study online. If you take responsibility for getting your work done, you may get as much as you can out of your courses.

How Do I Go Back to College to Get a Masters?

If you want to get into a graduate program, you can take the process one step at a time. First, you can start by researching different programs. You may think about what field of study will best help with your career goals and whether you’d prefer online or on-campus courses.

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Whether you’re an older adult going back to school or 25 and applying to grad school for the first time, a growing number of universities offer accredited programs both online and on campus.

As you take a look at different universities, you may want to pay attention to what their admission requirements entail. While some will request GRE or GMAT scores, that’s not a universal requirement. Finally, you can gather all necessary admissions materials and start submitting applications.

You can also fill out the FAFSA so that you can know your eligibility to receive financial aid.


Can I Get a Masters at 25?

Master's degree student studying in computer library

There’s no age limit on getting a graduate degree. Whether you’ve been out of college for 3 years or 30 years, you can still head back to the classroom to earn an advanced degree.

The thought of adding lectures and papers to your already busy calendar may seem overwhelming, but there are ways to make college feasible at this point in your life. Many schools have flexible schedule options, whether that involves going to campus for night classes or completing your coursework online.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Graduate Degree?

Graduate degree student taking an exam in university

In general, master’s degrees are thought of as 1 to 2 year endeavors. With full-time enrollment at a school that uses a traditional semester calendar, most masters programs can be completed with 4 semesters of study. Online colleges with accelerated degrees for working adults may be a beneficial option for many students. Some can be finished in just 12 to 18 months.

Doctorate programs vary greatly in length, but 3 to 5 years is a common timeframe. Much may depend on how long it takes you to complete either your capstone project or dissertation.

Is a Graduate Degree Worth It?

Manager meeting with his staff

Yes, a graduate degree is worth it for many adult students. The average salary for those with advanced degrees is $80,340 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). As a point of comparison, those with a bachelor’s degree make an average of $67,860 annually.

Having a graduate degree may qualify you for new job opportunities. It could help you secure a leadership role, or it may help you transition to working in a new field for the first time.

Earning a graduate degree is a big accomplishment. You may prove to yourself that you have what it takes, and you may even set a good example for others, displaying how you can work hard to achieve your dreams.

If you’re ready to take this next step in your educational journey, you may begin by investigating accredited graduate programs.

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Jordan Meeks
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.