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The NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study gives students the opportunity to create their own graduate degree. As a Dramaturgy student who wanted to pursue an M.A, there were little to no established programs in my field -- but Gallatin gave me the freedom to completely customize my program. If you have multiple interests and passions, and you see a non-traditional path for your career, this program might be right for you. Here are some tips to navigate these two years and achieve your goals.

People crossing the street

1. Take initiative.

The best part of being a Gallatin student is having full creative control over your education. That control comes with responsibility. It’s important to advocate for yourself and set your projects into motion independently.

If there are any faculty members or fellow students you’d like to work with, or you want to register for a class you need permission for, take that first step and don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. We are a part of a great community at NYU, and there are so many incredible people to meet and connect with. If you are thinking “I want to take that class, but I won’t be able to register,” or “I want to work with that faculty member, but I think they’ll say no” - just go for it! Not every answer will be “Yes,” but know that our campus community supports you. Take those risks and take ownership over your studies.

2. Plan ahead - know what you want out of the Gallatin experience.

Initiative and planning go hand in hand. Even though I am a first semester graduate student, I am already working with my advisor on third semester and Master’s Thesis goals. Many of these endeavors require a lot of headway to get started.

I recommend diving into all of the resources available to you before even coming to campus and establishing your main goals. Would you like to do an internship or two during your studies? Do you want to study abroad? Do you have independent studies in mind? Do you wish to take private music lessons? Is there a project or research initiative for which you’d like to apply for funding? These are all excellent opportunities, but it’s best to know and start the process as early as possible.

3. Do your financial research.

Gallatin students are automatically considered for scholarships, based on information supplied in the application process. However, there are many additional opportunities for financial support through Gallatin.

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There are numerous Dean’s Graduate Scholarships of $35,000 for incoming MA students and GA positions that offer tuition remission. It is also very important to fill out the FAFSA on time. In addition, you can support your education through Federal Work Study and other on-campus jobs through NYU’s job platform, Handshake. Make sure you know all of your options and resources and stay on top of any applications.

4. Take time to find the right advisor - and start looking early.

Gallatin students are free to choose an advisor from any school at NYU. Finding the right advisor for an individualized program can be a challenge -- mostly because there are so many awesome professors at NYU!

Two people meeting

It took me five months to find an adviser (I started looking in June and found one in October), but once I did, it was the perfect fit. I am glad I took the time to get to know many professors and find the one who could best help me reach my goals. Along the way, I also found a few professors who could work with me in an independent-study capacity as well.

5. Get clear about your goals - but don’t put yourself in a box.

Coming into Gallatin, I knew that I wanted to create a life as a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and scholar. But every day, I learn more about my research interests. It’s great to be focused with specificity, but it’s also okay to not have everything figured out when you first arrive to campus. At Gallatin, grad school is where you can begin diving in and finding your niche that clicks.

6. Tailor your education to your needs, and truly value your credit space.

A Gallatin degree typically consists of about 40 credits. As Gallatin students, we all have so much we want to learn about and explore -- sometimes, it can feel like a lot of pressure to squeeze in all of our goals into our studies. When choosing your courses, it’s important to make sure every single one of your credits is bringing you closer to your goals. Read course descriptions carefully, email professors with questions on course content, and talk to fellow students about their course experiences to make decisions.

Coffee and Calendar

7. Manage your time, and don’t be afraid to say “No.”

A good calendar is a must. My Google Calendar is my absolute go-to, and I use it to keep track of classes, assignments, work shifts, social activities, meetings, deadlines, and more. It’s great to take advantage of your time as a graduate student and fill your schedule to its potential.  That being said, don’t feel guilty if you’ve hit your commitment limit and can’t take anything else onto your plate. Remember that you are human - you only have so much energy to expend, and you need rest to do your best work.

8. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Gallatin students take on individualized programs, which means we are all on our own path. Take this opportunity to feel proud that you are a part of such a passionate community, not put yourself down because you are not living someone else’s story. Some of us will study part-time and work full-time, and some will do the opposite. Some of us will do three internships, and some will do none. Some of us will apply to PhDs, and some will not be interested in that at all. Some will live on campus and some will live off campus. You are on your own journey -- which is so exciting! You are also meeting some of your future professional collaborators through Gallatin. See those connections as partnerships, not competition.

9. Explore every possibility for post-graduation.

For many Gallatin students, the M.A can lead to a variety of careers. Even in your first semester, it’s a great idea to research the work you plan to do with your degree. What job fields are you interested in? Are there certain companies you would want to work for? Would you like to pursue further education after Gallatin? Which connections can you establish at NYU to bring you closer to your goals? These are all important questions to think about.

Group of graduates

10. Enjoy the ride!

Pursuing my graduate degree at Gallatin was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am learning so much and challenging myself every day. When midterm week hits you hard, just remember why you’re here, and take time to really have fun and enjoy every minute.