So you’re considering graduate school – that’s great! If you’re not sure where to start when applying to programs, you’re actually in luck. Most programs need the same few items to consider you as a candidate.
Of course you should try to tailor the items to each school/program that you apply to, but the bones of your application are below:
- Application: Some schools may require you to fill out an application to their graduate school and then to a specific program. Be sure to note what the deadline is for the school and the program – they may differ – so that you submit all of your materials on time.
- Transcript: Request that your undergraduate school sends transcripts – double check which department they need to be sent to at the school you’re applying to. Know that these may take a few days to send or a few weeks. Be aware that each program or school may consider a different GPA or classes required to qualify for their program.
- GRE, GMAT or other standardized test scores: Before taking the GRE, check what scores will be accepted and plan on ‘studying’ for the exam. Studying may include tutoring or taking practice tests. As these standardized tests are long, it is usually suggested to take at least one practice test as well as look at examples posted online of good and bad essay responses. You can download free practice problems online or purchase books and notecards.
- Letters of recommendation: Some programs request specific letters of recommendation (e.g., from professors or employers), while others simply require a number of letters. Make sure that you meet the qualifications for the program, but also talk to individuals who support you and have your best interest in mind. Talk with your references about the program you’re applying to as well as your goals, previous/relevant experience, strengths, and weaknesses so that they know what to emphasize in their letter to help strengthen your application.
- Admissions essay(s): Also known as a personal statement or statement of goals, admissions essays are a chance for the program to figure out why you would be a valuable addition to their program. Here is the place to embellish upon your unique experiences and skill sets that allow you to bring a fresh perspective to help yourself and your classmates become more successful.
- Resume: Make sure that your resume is up-to-date (both with information and formatting) and you emphasize experiences and skills that will depict you as an excellent match for the school/program.
- A good reason: Whatever your reason is in applying for a grad program, make sure that you can clearly articulate what you want to gain, what your career goals are, and how this program will help you meet your goals.
Aside from these common items, schools and programs may add application fees, require interviews, or have more specific qualifications for applicants to meet, including requesting passports from international students.