Students often ask what their GRE scores and/or GPAs mean for their applications. If you are asking yourself this question, remember when a program lists averages that does not automatically mean a GRE score or GPA below the average makes you ineligible. For example, the average undergraduate GPA for students admitted to our MPA program is a 3.65; that does not mean if you are slightly below the average you will not be considered for admission. However, the further away from the average you are, the less competitive your application will be. The same goes for GRE scores.
If your GRE scores and/or GPA are significantly below the provided averages, you still have options. If your GRE scores are an issue, we strongly advise students to consider retaking the exam to improve their scores. If you did not do so well the first time around, it would probably be a good idea to purchase a GRE review book or consider taking a GRE prep class. If your GPA is your challenge, review your transcript to identify areas where you struggled and consider retaking some of those courses, especially if they provide knowledge you need for your intended program of study (for prospective MPA students, quantitative courses are a good example). This not only helps improve your application, it will likely contribute to your success as a student if admitted. Another option would be to apply as a non-degree student, which would allow you to take courses in your chosen field. If you do well in those courses, you can apply to your intended master’s program. Taking courses as a non-degree student will allow the admissions committee to see you are able to be successful, at the graduate level, in your intended field of study. If admitted, courses successfully completed as a non-degree student can be applied to master’s level programs at the College.
Of course, if you are concerned about your GRE scores and/or GPA, you should talk to an admissions counselor about your specific situation to help identify the best option(s) for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
An internship is a great way to earn money, try out new professions, but most importantly develop skills that are integral to your career success. You probably completed an internship during your undergraduate years, whether it was working on a political campaign, at a law office, or in a business setting. While the average undergraduate student is usually faced with a mountain of paperwork to copy, fax, or file, a graduate level internship is different – it is professional and it will strongly impact your future career.
When advising students on choosing internships, I urge them to look at an internship as more than a paycheck, but as a strategic career move. After all, over 20% of the Class of 2013 secured a full-time job after completing an internship at that particular site. An internship can lead to a job offer, either at that same organization, or at another. A Class of 2014 MPA graduate just scored a full-time research job at The Brookings Institute directly because of the health policy research he conducted at his academic year internship. Therefore, it’s important to look carefully at all aspects of an internship before accepting an offer.
In the MPA program, I meet with students in their first semester to discuss how they can gain the skills necessary to succeed in their chosen career path, be it through coursework or through internships. It’s easy to accept an internship in a familiar area of study, lapsing into old habits, but the truly great internships will propel you forward. For example, if you are interested in nonprofit advocacy, investigate internships at state agencies where you can see policy implementation in action, which will give you insight into how to advocate for new and better policies in the nonprofit setting. I always recommend finding a “dream job” posting, and comparing it to your current resume – more than likely, you won’t seem qualified. However, remember that you have 2 years to revamp your resume and obtain the necessary skills and you’ll be surprised at where you end up! Enlist the help of professors, classmates, family, and of course, your friendly Director of Career Services!
Do you ever want to smack yourself for not taking advantage of a certain course that was offered during graduate school or while completing your undergraduate degree? (For me, it’s grant writing. What was I thinking not taking that class when my graduate assistantship would have covered it?) Does your job demand a certain skill that you could really use a refresher on? Or are you that person who scans course catalogs online and has a list of courses that you’d take if you could just find the time? (It’s Psychological Economics for this girl. That course just sounds fascinating, and I have a dream that I could use it to manipulate retailers while clothes shopping.)
If you answered YES to one or more of the questions above, have you ever considered taking courses as a “non-degree” student? Most universities — UAlbany included — will allow you to apply for non-degree (or non-matriculated) study in order to take a few courses. At Rockefeller College, we allow accepted non-degree students to enroll in up to 12 credits of graduate coursework over two years. That’s three classes, which can be taken all in one semester, or one at a time over the two-year period.
Why not take one night a week and fulfill your burning desire to learn about nonprofit board governance, or contract management? Applying for non-degree study is a simple, relatively inexpensive process and a great opportunity to get back into the academic swing of things. For more information, please visit http://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/admissions_pad_apply_non.shtml.
By: Kara Pangburn, Director of Graduate Recruitment and Admissions
For those of you who have ever wondered what is a graduate certificate, or what it can get you: you are not alone! These are some of the most common questions I encounter during any given week in the admissions office. So here’s my “quickstart guide” to graduate certificate programs at Rockefeller College.
First of all, what’s the difference between a Certificate of Graduate Study and a Certificate of Advanced Study?
Certificate of Graduate Study (CGS) = post-bachelor’s, pre-master’s credential
Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) = post-master’s, pre-doctoral credential
For admissions purposes, certificates are considered to be degree programs because admitted students are matriculated at the University at Albany and may qualify for federal student loans. Certificate students take graduate courses along with master’s and doctoral degree students. At Rockefeller College, we offer four certificate programs that allow students to take coursework in their area of interest. You can find more information about those certificate programs at http://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/certificate_programs.shtml.
There are generally three categories of students who enroll in our certificate programs:
- Recent graduates who are considering graduate school and want to “get their feet wet” before applying to a master’s or doctoral program;
- Students who are currently enrolled in a master’s program and are looking to supplement their education with courses in public administration or public policy;
- Professionals who want to develop a new skill set in order to advance their career (or change careers).
Let me be clear – earning a certificate (specifically a CGS) doesn’t guarantee the same types of job opportunities as a master’s degree. Certificate programs provide a great opportunity to develop and enhance your professional skills. They are not a silver bullet.
If you think a certificate program would be a good option for you, please consider applying! The deadline to apply for the fall 2014 semester is July 15.