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Application Process for Graduate School

Once you have narrowed down your list of possible graduate programs, it is time to begin the application process.  Applying to graduate school requires forethought and careful planning.   Graduate programs have different deadlines and procedures for applying, have minimum standardized test scores requirements, and often expect that you have taken certain undergraduate courses prior to admission.  It is fundamental that you are knowledgeable on the application process of each program. 

Application materials can be found on each program website or by contacting the graduate school.  There are several major components in the application process:

Standardized Tests 

Most graduate programs require that you take a standardized test as part of the application process.  Departmental requirements vary by institution so be sure to clarify what is required by each. There are several tests used in graduate school admissions such as:

Personal Statement

The personal statement is your opportunity to express your commitment to the field, academic preparation and to articulate what you have to offer the program.  For help with writing your personal statement, contact us or the Reading and Writing Center, and check out these websites:

Many graduate schools will require an official transcript with your application.  Requests for official transcripts can be made at the Registrar in Parenzo Hall, Room 107.

Letters of Recommendation
Typically three letters of recommendation are requested.  Faculty often serve as references as they can attest to your ability to perform in the classroom, are knowledgeable on the schools and may have contacts in the department.  Be sure to ask your recommenders in advance to ensure that they have the time to write the letter and meet the deadline for submission.  Provide your recommender with the deadlines for application, instructions for submitting, stamped and addressed envelopes, a copy of your resume and your unofficial transcript.   

Be sure to provide your recommender with:

  • The deadlines for application
  • Instructions for submitting,
  • Stamped and addressed envelopes
  • A copy of your resume and unofficial transcript
  • List of courses you took with the professor (if the recommender is a professor)
  • Any special projects you have done with the recommender
  • Conferences you have presented at or attended
  • Information about your internships

Also, maintain contact to discuss how the process is going and to ensure that the recommendation was submitted.  It is always a nice gesture to send your recommenders a thank you note for their time.

*Sometimes anonymous email reminders can be sent through the graduate school at your request to encourage your recommender to complete the recommendation.

Your GPA will also play a strong role in your consideration.  If you need to explain a situation or problem that impacted your grades (i.e. loss of family member, working full-time, etc.), feel free to do so in your personal statement.  Keep your explanation brief as the main focus of your personal statement should address the topic that was posed. Some programs will also ask for samples of your work or a portfolio.