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Graduate School Time Line


Compiled by Angela Torres, B.A.
& Edwina Reece, B.S.



- Decide what careers interest you and if graduate school is the right direction; weigh pros and cons of graduate school.

- Meet with an advisor: make sure you are taking the necessary classes; Review some school admissions requirements and begin incorporating required classes into your schedule.

- Strive to gain and maintain a competitive GPA.

- Begin taking classes with professors who you will ask to write letters of recommendation; Speak with them outside of class so that they can get to know you.

- Join student organizations/honor societies. Try to take a leadership position within the organization.

- E-mail/speak with current graduate students for information about schools and professors.

- Decide which graduate degree you will seek (masters, doctorate, etc.).

- Research schools to which you may want to apply: narrow list down to 20 schools.

- Try to get involved in research projects to obtain experience.

- Send away for information on graduate school entrance exams (GREs, MATs, etc.).

- Begin saving money for application fees, interview/traveling costs, postage, photocopying, transcripts, etc.



- Write to the 20 schools (or consult their websites) and request graduate school catalogs and application materials—including financial aid information.

- Use the rest of the summer to review the materials, as they arrive; Look at the research interests of faculty members and match them with yours; Narrow your list of schools down to 10.

Of the 10 schools:

~ 2 should be “long shots”: schools whose entrance requirements (GRE and GPA) you do not meet

~ 2-3 “borderline”: you may meet the GPA requirement but not the GRE requirements, or vice-versa

~ 3-5 “good matches”: those whose average scores/requirements match yours

~ 1-2 “almost sure bets”: programs whose requirements you clearly exceed

- E-mail graduate students about the program and ask questions about professors, the university, financial aid, and the area where you will be living.

- Search the internet for independent scholarships and fellowships.

- Prepare a set of index cards for each school to keep track of necessary information including application deadline and checklist of completed materials.

- STUDY for the necessary graduate entrance exam(s); send out registration materials and fees for the exams.

- Plan on taking an early exam in case you need to retake it to improve your scores.

- Prepare a draft of your personal statement.




- Last semester to take courses necessary for admissions (that the graduate schools will review)

- Contact faculty members to request letters of recommendation.

- Request undergraduate transcripts to provide to those who will write your letters of recommendation.

- Prepare your resume for your letter writers.

- Work on your personal statement.



- Take the required graduate entrance exam.

- Provide faculty members with recommendation forms and transcripts. Also, provide a pre-addressed, stamped envelope for each recommendation. Make sure they are aware of the deadlines.

- Ask faculty members to review your personal statement; make revisions as necessary.



- Finalize list of schools to which you plan to apply.

- Fill out applications.



- Request that transcripts from your current and previous schools be sent to the programs to which you are applying.

- Complete applications with January deadlines and mail several weeks before the due date.

- Use checksheet to make sure all materials are included.

- Proofread for grammatical errors and/or misspellings.

- Photocopy all materials before you send them.

- Mail or deliver thank you notes to faculty members who wrote your letters of recommendation.



- Call departments to which you have applied to be sure they have received your test scores and letters of recommendations (Do this only if they do not send you a “Materials Received” postcard).

- Contact faculty about any outstanding letters of recommendation.

- Mail any remaining applications.


February to April

- Try to visit schools to which you have applied especially if you were invited for an interview. If you cannot travel to the school, a phone interview may be possible.

- Most schools will notify you of your status (regular acceptance, provisional acceptance, waiting list, application denied) on or around April 15.

- After receiving acceptance notifications, consult with faculty to make your final decision of acceptance or denial.

- Notify the school whose offer you are accepting as well as those you are declining so that your slot may be given to another student.

- Contact those who wrote you letters of recommendations and inform them of the outcome of your applications.

- If all of your applications are rejected, consult with faculty about your options.


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