Applying to Graduate & Professional Schools

Applying to Graduate School: A General Guideline of the Application Process

Applying to graduate and professional programs should begin at least a year before you plan on attending (pay special attention to deadline dates). Be aware of the specific application processes and procedures for the programs you are interested in applying for. Also, schedule an appointment with the Graduate Advisor for your program of interest, use the internet to research graduate programs, and visit schools you are interested in attending.

Summer before Graduation

  • Collect  information concerning programs that interest you - is a great site to start with.
  • Evaluate schools that interest you to assess your chances for admissions.
  • Talk to faculty in your discipline-they are extremely useful resources for information.
  • Use a three tier rating system (top, middle, acceptable), to decide which programs meet your needs.
  • Attend graduate school fairs if possible, they are a good opportunity to speak directly with representatives from the schools that interest you.
  • Find out information concerning the standardized tests you need to take and register for the tests you need for your specific area.
  • Begin writing a draft of your personal statement. SEEK HELP. Identify others who can assist you. This is a very important and challenging part of the application process and must be carefully developed and revised. It is the only way the acceptance committee has of knowing who you are as a student and researcher.

    Helpful Links: - Link to free essay guidance split into lessons.

     University of California, Berkeley - overview, includes a list of things to include.

September - December before Graduation

  • Ask for letters of recommendations. Provide recommenders with a brief description of your program, mailing addresses of the institutions and application deadlines. Also, include your resume and an outline of issues to address in the letter.
  • Work on applications for your programs. Copy all applications and type on originals. See which applications can be submitted online. Complete entire application, make sure to sign it. Pay attention to specific requirements for each program along with deadlines. NEATNESS COUNTS! Keep a copy of everything you send.
  • Order transcripts.
  • Complete your Personal Statement.
  • Pay special attention to early application deadlines.
  • Apply to all assistantships and scholarships through your program/department.
  • If you have the opportunity, visit the schools that interest you. Many programs will arrange individual appointments with you to talk with faculty and students.
January – May before Graduation
  • Mail/Submit applications – again pay attention to details and deadlines.
  • Follow-up with schools to assure that your application is complete. If there is something missing, be sure to follow-through to complete the application.  Many programs will not review an application until it is complete.
  • Apply for financial aid. Fill out the federal financial aid forms. These must be completed to qualify for loans. The earlier this is done the better.
  • March and April is a time for you to wait patiently to hear from the schools.
  • Starting in late April and continuing throughout May you will receive your acceptance letters. If you are denied from a school call and find out why. Ask how you can improve your application for the next year and about a conditional admit (a school will sometimes let you take a course or two and based on your performance will re-evaluate your application).
  • If you have applied to doctoral programs and been rejected, consider entering a reputable master’s program to prepare you for doctoral work.
  • After receiving your acceptance letters decide which program to attend based on your needs. Visiting the schools again may be useful at this point.