grad school

higher further faster

Hi aska, do graduate programs (such as masters or law school) take into account how many 300 or 400 level courses you take during your undergraduate? I know law school admissions weigh GPA and LSAT marks quite heavily and wouldn’t like to see students taking 100 level courses in their 4th year for an easy GPA record. Should I aim to take mostly 400 level courses in 4th year? Or is that too unrealistic sanity-wise?


hello friend,

graduate programs! half of us, maybe more, have these hovering over our heads, don’t we? gotta love the higher education bubble pushing us higher further faster.

admissions questions are often tough to answer well because, as a student myself, it’s hard to know exactly what the decisions people are looking for. so i don’t have a preset formula to offer you– no ‘take 3 400 levels and you’ll be fine’ or whatnot.

according to u of t’s school of graduate studies, though, a variety of non-academic factors play a role in your admissions. apparently, this might include the research statements you propose, their alignment with faculty expertise, and “relevant professional activities.” when you apply to grad school, you’re typically also required to submit reference letters: glowing recommendations from reputable individuals can do wonders for your application. my point in reminding you of this (because you’re likely already aware) is that it’s not all about what you can tackle academically.

while i’m relatively certain it is important to take several higher-level courses in your undergrad if you’re considering grad school, doing so isn’t everything. it’s important for your application to be strong in other areas, and you may not have as much time and energy to expend on things like “professional activities” if you’re drowning under a boatload of 400 level courses. grad schools want to see that you’re able to challenge yourself and succeed, but i feel like there’s a balance and only you would know where that lies for you. like you mentioned, sanity-wise taking lots of tough courses can be taxing and it’s important to prioritize your health and well-being. not that i’m the poster child for doing so, but it’s a process, right?

anyway, i feel like you should probably have a chat with an upper year expert at your registrar or even u of t’s grad school admissions office if you want further information on this. your registrar will be familiar with your academic record and be able to give better recommendations as to what you can handle academically, whereas the grad school admissions people are literally the ones making the decisions so they’ll have more concrete answers than i do.

sorry i couldn’t be more helpful! best of luck figuring it out.

over n out,


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