As an undergraduate student taking courses to complete your bachelor degree, the goal was to build a set of foundational knowledge and begin to gain some expertise in your area of study. By the time you have completed all coursework, you gained enough background and knowledge to begin working in your chosen professional field. Once you make the decision to take your knowledge and experience to the next level by obtaining a Master degree, you set your foot on the path of mastering a set of criteria that meet academic objectives as designated by the University offering the degree. According to the Random House Dictionary (2013), a Master is a person preeminent in a discipline as in art or science (para. 1). While this definition appears to apply to these two areas of academics, it can easily be generalized to include the many fields of academics from business to nursing.
One of the most important aspects of moving from undergraduate education to the level of a Master degree is the transition to a stronger focus as a student-scholar. The student-scholar is an individual who can clearly critically analyze a range of materials and synthesize these items to provide an interpretation, an insight or an idea. At the same time the student-scholar must be able to bring his/her own ideas forward as informed by experts in the field. Such student-scholars are able to not only read and analyze other’s research but are capable of designing some of their own. This type of design includes an understanding of responsibilities and ethics that surround research including, but not limited to, Humans Subjects and Institutional Research Guidelines, University Guidelines for Research proposals, American Psychological Association guidelines for publishing, research, references, and citations.
Part of moving solidly into the role of student-scholar requires seeking out opportunities to publish in academic journals and present at academic conferences. The goal is to find appropriate peer-reviewed journals and academic conferences with experts in the field of your area of study or expertise. Another opportunity is to work with faculty in your area of interest on both research, articles for publication and academic presentations.
Clearly there is a higher level of expectation for the student-scholar that moves beyond the passive role of acquiring knowledge to one capable of contributing to academic dialogue and knowledge in their field of research or practice.