It sometimes seems like going to graduate school is the most reasonable thing to do. Although the advice to go to graduate school is well-intentioned, if the purpose is to get further education and acquire the necessary knowledge for personal and professional growth, there are many other ways apart from going to grad school.

Here are some alternatives to grad school.

  1. Attend Conferences

Go to conferences on the field you want to get more knowledge about. Conferences like these serve as crash courses in your field of interest. At these conferences, you will get to learn from key players in the industry. Conferences are great places to establish business liaisons and engage in exchange of ideas with other industry enthusiasts and professionals.

  1. Attend Development Workshops

Search for and attend practical development workshops which focus on the particular set of skills you want to acquire. These workshops will provide quick hands-on experience within your field of interest.

  1. Run Certificate Programs

You can acquire certificates and licenses in your areas of interest by taking certificate courses. Another perk of running a certificate program is that it is often a fraction of the cost of going to graduate school.

  1. Enroll in Online Courses

Since there are so many jobs which do not require possession of a master’s degree, taking online courses is now a popular and cheaper way to learn. Enroll in an online course organized by a credible person in that particular field and learn what you need.

  1. Take Individual College Courses

For those interested in some kind of formal education, taking individual college courses at your own speed instead of going through the full graduate school program can work for you. This is much cheaper than a master’s degree programmed and gives you time to also build a career while learning.

  1. Start an Apprenticeship

One of the best ways to learn and grow in your chosen field is by learning under someone. Look for someone in your desired industry who you know is qualified enough for you to learn from. Develop a mentor relationship with them. This would help you expand your scope of knowledge, push your boundaries and grow into your next level of success.

  1. Make Use of In-house Career Development at Your Work Place.

Find out what the firm you work with has to offer in terms of career development and make it work for you. If there is nothing currently offered, propose training sessions and exercises to your employer.

  1. Grow Horizontally

Sometimes, instead of looking for ways to go upward in your career, look for a way to move to a different aspect of that career that fits your interests. This would help you diversify your knowledge and gain a new set of skills.

If you are not yet sold on the idea of going to grad school, making use of one or more of these alternatives would help with your development, both professionally and personally.