Graduate School

Graduate School: A Rough Guide

[Fact-checking and more information needed]


Graduate schools will really look through your transcript, unlike most employers; this makes grades both more important and less important for grad school. Specifically: graduate schools will ignore your grades on any non-relevant courses-whether you got straight A's or straight D's-but will care very much about what you got on the courses relevant to what you claim you want to study. Also, graduate schools have a much better idea of what classes you actually took: you really want to be looking at taking a couple of graduate courses in your subject while you are here, if possible, and taking the hardest classes you possibly can in your concentration, conditional on (say) that you think you can get an A- in that class.

Recommendation letters

These matter. A lot. Value of rec = famousness of professor x amount they like you.


At Princeton, Economics graduate students have a stipend of $30,000 per year, tax-free. This is equivalent to about $45,000 regular income. A biology grad student could get 20-30k depending on the discipline. A humanities graduate student might get more like $20,000.

So what do I need to do?

In general, stay smart. Do things that prove both an interest and a commitment to the field you want to go into: RA for a professor, write a prize-winning JP, do summer work or research that relates to your interest. Keep your grades high in the courses that relate to your field; take grad courses in your field, if you can. In general, as a rule of thumb at each stage of your time here, do the hardest schoolwork you can possibly do in your area conditional on your ability to get an A- or better in that course/work/assignment.

Freshman Year

Sophomore Year

Junior Year

Senior Year