Grad School Admissions Process
Find the Right Program for You
Interview faculty or professionals in your area of interest. Where did they go? What did they like/dislike about the program? Gather information and possibly gain a letter of reference!
Many websites will help sort graduate schools by program or field of study. Sign up to receive course catalogs, tuition information, etc. Read through college materials carefully.
Narrow the Field
Make a list of your top three requirements for a grad school. Consider:
As you sort through graduate school information, filter their qualities through your "requirements." If a school doesn't match your needs, eliminate them immediately. Keep eliminating options until you have 3-4 schools.
Letters of Recommendation
Find faculty who are credible, fond of your work, and who write well. Give them plenty of time to prepare your letter (fall of senior year is appropriate). Provide them with:
- A current resume
- Reason why you are pursuing a graduate degree
- Stamped envelope and letterhead
Name, title, school, and address of graduate school "reviewer" - who will be reading the letter and evaluating you for admission.
Have faculty and friends review your essay. Draft and edit. Ensure that your essay is error free. Graduate students need to be excellent writers - show off your skills. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the essay. Tips for writing a great essay:
- Be yourself - you are looking for a "good match." You will not do yourself any favors by "pretending."
- Write a strong opening - share an experience that establishes a connection between you and your subject area. Be specific and use examples, which are more interesting than general statements.
- Tell how your story intersects with their story. Answer the question, “Why are you a good match for the program?” Use the catalog and research of the program faculty as a resource.
- Describe your goals.
- Fill out a FAFSA and complete by March 1st for full consideration. This is the same process that you completed as an undergraduate.
- Opportunities through the college/university may include:
- Fellowship Scholarships: Free money if you keep your grades up.
- Assistantships: Work for the school in exchange for tuition waiver and/or stipend.
- Teaching Assistantships: Teach introductory subject courses (usually large universities).
- Research Assistantships: Usually grant funded, specific research project with a faculty member.
- Administrative Assistantships: Work 10-20 hours/week as an Administrative Assistant in your department.
Some funding programs require a separate application. Read carefully for procedures.