Every graduate program will have its own unique application requirements, deadlines, and recommended timeline. Research the schools you are interested in to determine what your personalized timeline should be. What follows is a general sample timeline for researching graduate schools and applying.
Junior Year - Fall
- Research schools and programs. Use online resources on O’Brien Center for Career Development website
- Consult with faculty/advisors about your interests and the nature of grad study you might like to pursue.
- Obtain application forms, grad school catalogs, and financial aid information. Note deadlines.
Junior Year - Spring
- Begin to approach faculty and/or professionals who know your work for recommendation letters.
- Register and begin preparing for appropriate graduate admissions tests.
Summer after Junior Year
- Take required graduate admission tests (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, etc.) Know deadlines and minimum time needed for scoring.
- Request applications, handbooks/bulletins, and financial aid information from all schools of interest.
- Visit or talk to admissions staff, current students and faculty at programs of interest. Be sure to look at the faculty’s research interests.
- Begin drafting application essays in time to get feedback from career counselors and advisor(s) before applying.
- Gather information about financial aid resources, including assistantships (teaching, research, administrative), scholarships, and fellowships.
Senior Year - Fall
- Obtain additional letters of recommendation from faculty and /or professionals with whom you have worked.
- Request that recommendation letters be mailed at least three weeks before any application deadline, to ensure they are processed by the deadline.
- Submit completed application materials, including financial aid packages. Application materials generally include:
- Application Form
- Admissions test reports (sent by the testing service to schools you specify)
- Transcripts – request that your college mail them directly to the graduate institution, or you may get copies issued to you and you can mail them with your application.
- Letters of Recommendation (if not sent by the recommender)
- Application Essays/Personal Statements
- Other materials requested.
- For financial aid, be sure to complete the needed applications. Check with each school for financial aid application requirements and forms.
Senior Year - Spring
- Follow-up to check the status of your application.
- Visit institutions of interest (optional) to help evaluate your options.
- Interview, if needed.
- Choose among schools. Be prepared to consider multiple offers. How will you decide? Also prepare for the possibility that you may not get any offers. What is your contingency plan?
- Once accepted to a program, notify other institutions of your choice.
- Send thank-you notes to those who wrote you recommendation letters, informing them of your plans.