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Advanced Degrees, Audiences, Education & Learning, In Transition, New Grads, Professional Schools, Rising Professionals

Grad School: Plan and Apply

Last time we looked at factors to consider when you are deciding whether to apply to graduate school. Now that you have decided, here are your next steps!

Get organized: You will need to keep track of a lot of information: application and other deadlines, GPA and entrance exam requirements and scores, personal statement prompts and specifications, letters of recommendation, transcripts, supplemental essays and much more. Develop a system that works for you, whether electronic or paper.  Set it up early and use it regularly from the start.

Develop targets: Decide which type of program(s) will best prepare you to achieve your goals.  JD, MBA, MPP, MFA, PhD?  Research the field and read current job postings to gauge the degree(s) that employers typically expect.  Then research individual schools to develop a target list of schools that are accredited and will meet your needs.

Determine Your Selection Criteria:  Determine the factors you will need to consider in making your final decision and incorporate them into your decision making. Everyone’s criteria are different; examples can include: cost, location, job outcomes, faculty/student ratio, availability of online or part-time options, or other criteria.

Entrance exams: Most graduate programs require entrance exams.  The type of program you are pursuing will largely determine which exam you need to take.  Plan time to study and take the exams and build in enough time to retake if needed.  Members of the Alumni Association receive a discount on Kaplan test prep.

Letters of recommendation: Determine who to ask and allow plenty of time (allow at least a month; possibly longer for faculty recommendations; timing can depend on many factors). Seek recommenders who are familiar with your work and can speak positively about you.  You might have a combination of academic and professional references, depending on your experience and goals.

Transcripts: You’ll need copies from every college and university you have attended, including dual enrollment from high school and courses taken that were not toward a degree. TIP: Order an unofficial copy of each for yourself also, as you may need the information to complete your application(s).

Personal statements:  Personal statements allow the reviewer to get to know you as a person and to see how your experience and goals fit with the program.  Be sure to address the prompt and adhere to specifications related to formatting.  Address your goals, related experience, and reasons why you have chosen this academic discipline and school.  Be concise, focused, interesting, and error-free.  Identify several people to help you review for spelling, grammar, flow and content.  Allow plenty of time for multiple revisions.

Visit our website for more information and resources as you start the application process.