The purpose of this page is to give students who might not consider applying to graduate school or those who have no idea where to begin to access resources both here at the U and outside of it. Many 1st Generation college students, students of color, as well as other traditionally under-represented populations face additional challenges and hurdles when putting together a competitive graduate school application. This site will help you face those challenges, but remember much of this is done via multiple and meaningful conversations with advisors, professors, graduate students, family, and others.

Why should you consider graduate school?

First, please understand that graduate school refers to both academic programs, such as a PhD in Sociology, and professional programs, such as a Masters of Social Work. While both are graduate programs, they have very different outcomes and requirements. If you want to work in academia (like your professors) or conduct research, an academic program might be of interest. If you want to work in a specific sector of the economy (like business), than a professional graduate program is probably the best choice to obtain the credentials that you need (in this case, a Masters of Business Administration). Further exploration of the differences between the two types and what might be the best fit for you can be had through in-person conversations with your advisors, TA’s, professors, and career services. Your first step should be to talk with your CLA advisor and the Sociology advisor.

Second, a graduate degree can greatly enhance your earning potential and possibilities for your career. That said, you should not feel that a graduate degree is required simply to get a job, or that having a four-year degree isn’t sufficient. Plenty of our alums are in high positions and do not have graduate degrees. However, some professions require a graduate degree-like teaching (a Masters in Education).

Perhaps the best resources for students to take advantage of here at the U of M Twin Cities is at the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education (ODGE). 

The Office for Diversity in Graduate Education (ODGE), located in 333 Johnston Hall, coordinates activities relating to underrepresented graduate students. It assists directors of graduate studies with recruitment, retention, and funding of underrepresented graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The office provides students with strategies for clarifying goals, selecting a graduate program, preparing the best possible graduate school application, and funding graduate work through assistantships and fellowships.

Please take time exploring their website. They would really love to meet with you. More information can be found at:

Outside the U Resources 

The Idealist Grad School Resource Center is the homepage for all things related to grad school! Here, you’ll find a collection of articles tailored to help with your search for the right graduate program as well as information about the upcoming Idealist Grad Fairs, hosted each year.

RISE has many great resources available as well. RISE for Boys and Men of Color is a $10 million field advancement effort that aims to better understand and strategically improve the lives, experiences, and outcomes of boys and men of color in the United States. RISE spans five fields (education; health; human services and social policy; juvenile and criminal justice; and workforce development) and focuses on four populations (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Blacks; Latinos; and Native Americans).

The ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline (Pipeline Council) works to improve diversity in the educational pipeline to legal profession. Our charge is to increase the number of people of color who are on track to becoming lawyers.

The McNair Program-named in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, one of the astronauts who perished with the Challenger mission, this national TRIO Program ( assists eligible first-generation undergraduate students from low-income families to prepare to enter graduate programs leading to a PhD. Participants include academically talented low-income, first-generation students and students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate programs.

Affordable Colleges Online-Prospective students who require a flexible schedule while pursuing their Master’s degree may consider enrolling in an online graduate program. In this highly competitive job marketplace, an online degree can set students apart and allow for greater personal, professional, and financial opportunities in their chosen field.


Professor Cottom’s Graduate School Guidance

This some-what-tongue-in-cheek document is a reasonably succinct outline for graduate school-from applying, to funding, and more. We encourage you to read this document a couple of times before talking with your professors and TA’s to help you ask the right questions.

This may be especially helpful advice for perspective/beginning grad students who do not have strong networks or socialization in higher education already.