Last week, I shared some tips on how to find a graduate school that fits your personality and your academic goals. This week, I cover the general timeline in applying to any graduate program. Below is a basic foundation of everything that needs to be done, stretched over twelve months. This is mostly to keep you sane as you apply to grad schools; I chose to do it all within a matter of three months since I’m such a procrastinator. Other than giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for the entrance exam, I highly recommend that you provide at least a month’s notice to those who will be writing a letter of recommendation for you.
Twelve months prior to the application deadline:
- Determine which standardized tests are required
- Research graduate programs and request catalogs
- Calculate how much grad school will cost. How much will you spend on application fees, admission exams, transcripts, tuition, room and board.
- Set aside money for application fees, admission exams, transcripts, etc.
Ten months prior
- Take a practice test so you know what areas you will need to focus on while studying
- Request additional information from departments
- If you are an undergraduate, reinforce relationships with your professors
- Get more involved in your field
- Read each application carefully. Make a master calendar and task list.
Nine months prior
- Sign up for a GRE/GMAT course
- Register for the GRE/GMAT
- Draft a general statement of purpose outlining the reasons why you wish to attend graduate school. You will use some version of this in most applications
Seven months prior
- Narrow your choices
- Begin talking with your advisor and other professors about your graduate school goals
- Solicit letters of recommendation
- Begin investigating sources of funding
- Get and file applications for financial aid
- Complete your FAFSA
- Begin writing your statement of purpose
Six months prior
- Take the GRE/GMAT. The earlier you take it, the more time you’ll have to improve your score.
- Identify and contact potential graduate supervisors at a variety of schools
Five months prior
- Follow up with sources
- Request transcripts
- Verify transcripts are complete and correct
- Refine your personal statement
Three months prior
- Visit graduate schools
- Prepare for your interview
- Submit your applications