Graduate school tutoring - find master's, PhD or professional degree help
Grad school brings with it a series of academic requirements, some of which may be outside of your area of expertise. Tutors can help refresh your memory of undergraduate coursework, fill in any gaps in your academic prerequisites and meet advanced graduate requirements.
Graduate tutors: An expedition guide to the pinnacle of your field
Graduate school allows you to focus your studies on a specific area, but not before building a solid foundation in prerequisite courses and related disciplines. Requirements vary based on the program and discipline. For example, an applied technology program may require a broad spectrum of mathematics and computer system training before you can pursue your independent thesis project. Academic research degrees generally require statistics and research methodology courses. And many humanities and social science graduate programs require foreign language proficiency.
Graduate-level tutors are available in these key areas:
Mathematics. Math tutoring covers common graduate foundation course topics, such as pre-calculus and calculus, geometry, trigonometry, algebra and basic college math. Demand is high for statistics tutors, since this field is required in many social science fields that don't otherwise have a strong quantitative bent.
Science. A science tutor can refresh your memory on the fundamentals. Graduate programs in health care fields, academic science disciplines, and engineering have prerequisites in biology, chemistry and physics. A science tutor can also give you an edge in your graduate-level science courses.
Language. Reading proficiency in two foreign languages is a standard requirement of humanities and social science programs. In addition, you might find that your master's thesis or Ph.D. dissertation topic requires knowledge of a language. For example, public health workers may learn Spanish to better communicate with a targeted community. And international field research is common in fields as diverse as environmental science and sociology. A language tutor can improve your conversational Spanish, French, Chinese or Japanese, for example.
English as a second language. If you are an international student pursuing a graduate degree in an English-speaking country, you can remove the language barrier by working with an ESL or English tutor.
Writing. At the graduate level, writing is required in most disciplines, even quantitative fields, such as mathematics and science. A writing tutor can help you communicate your ideas and share your research with peers.
Exams. Standardized exams make up an important part of your graduate school application. Academic programs require the GRE General Test, and in some cases the GRE Subject Test (sciences, math, English literature and psychology) and TOEFL (for non-native English speakers). Professional programs may accept the GRE, but typically require a professional exam, such as the LSAT (law school), GMAT (business school) or MCAT (medical school). Graduate exam tutoring may focus on test-taking strategies and subject matter.
Career placement. A tutor from the industry in which you intend to work can ease the transition from academia to commercial application. In addition to gaining an inside perspective into applied practice in your field, you'll also begin building your professional contact base.
Find a tutor to support your graduate work
Since the bar for subject matter knowledge is high at the graduate level, it's crucial to find a graduate school tutor with deep knowledge in the field. For the most part, qualified graduate tutors are associated with an academic institution. Exceptions include language tutors, who need only be native speakers, and exam prep tutors, who have special training from private tutoring services.
Find a tutor through:
- Your university. Graduate students in other disciplines or recent graduates of your program might be eager for a side job related to their field. Ask department staff for a referral, or post a note near the department office. Campus-based universities may also have a tutoring center.
- Your professors and mentors. Your graduate advisor may be able to suggest an academic or industry professional who could serve as your tutor.
- TutorFinder. Our online resource matches you with graduate-level tutors in your area or online. Simply indicate whether you need math help, writing help, science tutoring or another type of support.
- Free math or science help online. The Khan Academy has expanded from its high school-level explanations to college-worthy lectures, with help from funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn about differential equations, finance, organic chemistry--or study for the GMAT with these brief, free downloadable lectures.
- Private graduate tutoring services. There are many private services that specialize in graduate-level tutoring. In New York, for example, the Columbia University Tutoring and Translating Agency accepts clients "from grade school to grad school."
The web offers myriad self-directed learning resources you can use in conjunction with tutoring. Examples include peer study groups like GrockIt, which focuses on GRE, GMAT or LSAT test preparation.
Qualities of an effective graduate tutor
Find a tutor who meets your need by interviewing candidates. Qualities of a good tutor include:
- Credentials. Whether it's an advanced academic degree in a science tutor or native speaking skill in a language tutor, it's important to identify the right credentials for the job, explains the National Tutoring Association. A resume and college transcripts can give you an idea of how skilled the tutor is in the subject matter and as a teacher. Certification through a teacher training program or professional group like the National Tutoring Association not only suggests skill, but also commitment to tutoring.
- Experience. Some of the smartest academics can't explain concepts effectively. Look for teaching and one-on-one tutoring experience.
- Communication. Will you meet face to face or communicate using online technology? Take into account your learning style and assess the tutor's ability to communicate effectively using your preferred medium (one-on-one meetings, email, IM, etc.).
- Personality. Since a tutor is as much a mentor as an instructor, it's a good idea to find someone with patience and an upbeat attitude. Make sure your personalities mesh well together.
- Flexibility. A good tutor has developed a bag of tricks for explaining difficult concepts, and can find the approach that works best for you. Call the tutors references to ascertain whether the tutor has the pedagogical dexterity to spark your understanding.
- Organization. Ask the tutor to describe a tutorial plan for you, including assessment strategies to gauge progress, suggests the NTA. This will indicate the tutor's level of organization, experience and responsiveness to your needs.
Finding a tutor by referral will help you select qualified candidates. You may use word-of-mouth as a guide, or try an online search service like our TutorFinder. The more effort you devote to finding the right tutor, the more likely you will get the support you need to succeed.
Whether you are headed into a professional career or an academic research role, graduate school challenges you to evolve from a passive learner into an active leader in your field. Get the help you need to scale the heights of knowledge at the graduate level. Targeted tutoring in critical areas like writing, math and language skills can remove roadblocks, clearing your path to the top.