Application Timeline and Checklist
Graduate schools, in contrast to a more general education of an undergraduate degree, offer very specific skills and knowledge in one chosen area of study. Here are a few questions to include in your criteria as you make your decision whether or not to attend graduate school:
- Is an advanced degree necessary for the field I have chosen?
- Do I enjoy the field of study enough to obtain an advanced degree?
- Would career related work experience be more beneficial at this time?
- Do I have the financial resources required?
- Is it possible that I think graduate school is the only option with my degree?
- Have I met with a career adviser, professors or professionals in the field to learn what I can do with an undergraduate degree in my field compared to the career potential with an advanced degree?
- Will I go full-time or part-time?
After analyzing your reasons for wanting to go to graduate school, you must then choose the university and program that meets your needs. The Alumni Career Services web pages, Graduate School Information page, is an excellent place to begin this process. Review the links to the various web pages that provide search engines to explore academic programs, ranking status, and other helpful information. Conduct informational interviews with people who are in your chosen career field. Ask about programs they would recommend. Ask professors and other people at Malone for their opinion. Use the Internet to research each graduate school and specific programs of interest to you. It is also recommended that you write to various graduate school departments and request information be sent to you. Also, make plans to visit universities, walk their campus, and talk with students in the program you are considering. Conduct an interview with department faculty and/or an admissions counselor. Visit their Career Center office and ask where their graduates typically find employment.
The Application Process
After choosing a field of study (or at least narrowing the choices down to a few), applying to several graduate schools is the next step. Every university has unique requirements so it is important to research each institution. The general admission requirements may include:
- Application and fee
- Admission test scores (GRE, MAT, LSAT, MCAT)
- Official transcripts
- Grade point average
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
The following outline should assist you with planning your strategy for gaining entrance into your desired program. This is only a suggested time-line. Your schedule may vary depending on your degree field.
16 to 24 months prior to enrollment
- Begin exploring the possibilities of graduate school by reviewing through various guides to graduate programs
- Send for catalog information
- Determine application deadlines
- Determine test requirements and dates
- Sign up for tests and take practice tests
- Discuss programs with a career counselor and faculty members
12 months prior to enrollment
- Take standardized tests
- Draft a statement of purpose and have it critiqued by several people
- Research financial aid sources, fellowships, and assistantships
- Request recommendations from faculty members
Nine months prior to enrollment
- Order official transcripts from the Registrar's Office
- Request for transcripts to be mailed to universities
- Final draft of purpose for application
- Mail application
- Apply for fellowships, grants and assistantships
Six to eight months prior to enrollment
- Schedule visits and interviews
- Obtain a copy of income tax returns if applying for financial aid
- Complete a new FAFSA in January
Four to six months prior to enrollment
- Discuss plans, acceptances and rejections with qualified advisers
- Princeton Review: Gourman Report of Graduate Programs
- U.S. News & World Report: College and University Rankings
- Peterson's Graduate School Guide