Applying to Graduate School

Deciding | Timetable | Choosing | Applying

Application and Fee

Make sure the application is neatly typed or written (preferably typed) and is mailed by the deadline. If the schools you are applying to have rolling admission, you should apply as early as possible, since applicants are reviewed as their applications are submitted. Even those schools with a regular admission process like to see applications that are submitted in advance of the deadline.

Admissions Test Scores

Each institution has their own requirements regarding admission tests requirements, and this information can be found in either the Peterson's or GRE's graduate guides. The GRE, GMAT and LSAT registration booklets can be picked up in college career center offices. Within the registration booklet, you will find the dates of the exams, pre-registration deadlines and one practice test. It is advisable to spend some time going over individual questions and taking more than one practice test. Test preparation books are useful, and preparatory classes, such as the Stanley Kaplan, may be helpful, though costly.

Most general graduate schools require the General Test, and many require the Subject Test. The General Test contains a verbal, quantitative and analytical section. The Subject Test measures knowledge of a particular subject matter. The General and Subject Tests can be taken on the same day or on different days.

The MAT uses verbal analogies to test reasoning ability. Some graduates schools will accept the MAT in lieu of the GRE. You should contact your local college or university for information regarding where the test may be available to you locally.

Official Transcripts

Most schools ask that an official transcript be sent from your college's registrar's office. The transcript demonstrates your receipt of an undergraduate degree, the courses you took and grades received. If you have taken classes or received a degree at another institution, you need to request a transcript from that school, as well.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters should be requested early from either professors or employers who can attest to your abilities. (see About References)

Personal Statement

The purpose of the personal statement is to give you the opportunity to articulate your goals and reasons for applying to graduate school in your particular field of study. You may need to brainstorm before starting the draft on what's unique about you, how you became interested in the field, your personal characteristics and skills, and your previous experiences.

The opening paragraph should grab the reader's attention. Introduce the main elements that you will discuss in the statement. The middle paragraph should include the "meat" of the statement. Indicate why you are interested in the field and any relevant experience you have had. State some of your long term goals, and be specific. You should state what you can offer the program, and, in turn, what you will gain from it. You could also include some of your personal qualities and strengths. The closing paragraph should leave the reader with an image of you that they will remember. You should either re-articulate the main points of the statement, or add a particularly significant point. An average length of the statement is around two pages or approximately 500 words.

Some items that should be left out of a personal statement are: any information from high school (unless an interest in the field began in high school), potentially controversial subjects, and any item that doesn't answer the question asked or follow the guidelines specified. Be selective. It is important to demonstrate your enthusiasm, and the statement should show your personality and individualism. Lastly, it is important that the statement be well-written.

Some schools will require an interview for acceptance. If you are applying for an assistantship or internship, an interview may also be required. If the school does not require an interview, it would still be advantageous to schedule a time to meet with a faculty member or chairperson of the department for which you are applying. This meeting will provide an opportunity for you to find out more information about the school and the program. Before the interview, you should read over the catalogue to become familiar with the institution's goals and functions.


Samples of previous work or audition CDs may be required for some programs such as Art, Architecture, Music, Public Relations and Journalism. A portfolio can be created to highlight any work you are particularly proud of. Putting together a portfolio can be discussed with a Career Advisor in the Career Center.