Preparation for Graduate Study

The undergraduate program at Vassar College affords preparation for graduate work either in the liberal arts or in the professions. Students interested in advanced degrees should consult the several departments as early as possible in their undergraduate careers. Students contemplating graduate work should inquire concerning the language requirements of the subject in which they are interested. Normally a reading knowledge of both French and German is required for the Ph.D. and one language is required for the M.A.

Catalogues of graduate and professional schools are filed in the library, and notices of fellowships and assistantships of many institutions are posted on the bulletin boards of departments and in Main Building. Such aid is available through many channels, among them Vassar’s fellowship program, graduate schools, the Fulbright program, special grants offered by foundations and professional associations, New York State Regents’ medical fellowships, and the Marshall and Rhodes fellowships for study in Britain. For information about these programs, students should consult their departments and the Director of the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising, Office of the Dean of Studies.

Graduate Record Examinations are required or recommended by graduate schools, especially for fellowships. Application blanks and information pamphlets are available at the Office of Career Development or the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising.

Most professional schools advise a student to obtain a sound foundation in the liberal arts as the best preparation for admission. This holds true of architecture, business, law, medicine, social service, and teaching.

Architecture: Students interested in a career in architectural design are well advised to take a liberal arts degree as part of their preparation for admission to programs that offer the master’s degree in architecture (M.Arch.). Students may major in any subject in the college and are advised to take courses in architectural design, art studio and architectural history, mathematics, and physics as part of their preparation. Students seeking advice about architecture programs should make known their interest to the art department where they will be assigned to an adviser.

Engineering: For those students interested in a program leading to an engineering degree, Vassar College maintains a cooperative arrangement with the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. Those students interested in this program should make their interest known to the Department of Physics or to the Office of the Dean of Studies.

Law: Law schools, even more than medical schools, emphasize the importance of a broad liberal arts education. No specific courses or subjects are required for entrance. The qualities desired are independence, discrimination, respect for evidence, critical analysis and constructive synthesis, power of organization, clear expression, and sound judgment. All American Bar Association-approved law schools require the Law School Admission Test. Students seeking prelaw advice should consult the Director of the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising.

Medicine: Medical schools differ in their philosophies of education, specific requirements, and systems of training. They are all interested, however, in a broad background in the liberal arts with a strong foundation in the natural sciences. In general, they require a minimum of one year of inorganic chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, one year of physics, one year of biological science, and one year of English. Calculus or mathematics or biochemistry may be required and is often recommended. There is, however, wide variation in the requirements of the different schools, and a student should consult a member of the Premedical Advisory Committee and the Medical School Admissions Requirements Handbook, which is available in the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising. Since a student may fulfill the minimum requirements for entrance by majoring in one of the required subjects or in an unrelated subject, he or she is advised to select the field of greatest interest for the undergraduate program. The Premedical Advisory Committee holds an advising session in the fall for incoming freshmen. Students interested in planning for the medical school application procedure are encouraged to declare their interest by the end of the sophomore year; students will be placed with a premedical adviser during their junior year. Members of the committee are always available for individual conferences with students. For information on taking the MCAT and filing applications for medical schools, students should consult the Director of the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising.

Teaching: See Department of Education.

Other health professional careers: For students interested in careers such as dentistry, optometry, and veterinary medicine, early consultation with the director of the Office for Fellowships and Graduate School/Preprofessional Advising is recommended.