Timeline for Preparing

Career Services can help you succeed with each phase in the timeline for preparing for graduate school.

24+ months to go

  • Begin or continue exploring your academic and professional interests
  • Think about how you want to use your values, interests and skills in your career some day
  • Begin exploring your options by getting involved on campus, in the community, or through internships and other work experiences
  • Request catalogs or materials from the graduate programs that interest you

15 months to go

  • Continue exploring your interests and building experience (see above)
  • Start researching graduate programs that appeal to you
  • Get organized. Create a system to help you keep track of all your application materials including: a list of the programs you are applying to, the various application deadlines, and required application materials you will submit. Also consider making notes about the features of each program that most appeal to you. Use this Grad School Tracking Form to get started. This can be helpful when writing your essays, asking for letters of recommendation from faculty or for your own decision-making process
  • Find out if entrance exams are required for the programs you are interested in. Typical exams include the GRE, MCAT, GMAT, LSAT or TOEFL.
  • Create a study plan to prepare for your upcoming entrance exam (if required). Test preparation classes or practice tests can help you prepare for the exams
  • Register for your entrance exam/s by September of the year before you want to begin school

12 months to go (typically the September before you plan to begin graduate school)

  • Register for your entrance exam/s if you have not yet done so
  • Begin thinking about who you will ask to write your letters of recommendation. Professors are often the best people to ask as long as you confirm they are willing and able to write a positive letter by the application deadline. You will need to provide them with your recommendation forms and background information to help them write a letter (resume, brief statement explaining why this program is a good fit for you, transcripts, or any other documentation that you feel will help them write their letter).
  • Meet with faculty members to formally ask them if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. Be sure to have all your materials and deadlines organized.

10-12 months to go (typically the fall before you plan to begin graduate school)

  • You will likely take your entrance exam/s during early fall of your senior year, or the year prior to beginning graduate school
  • Order official transcripts from the Office of the Registrar
  • Write and edit your personal statement or other application essays that are required. It is a good idea to have a trusted friend or a professional in your field review your statement as well.

8-10 months to go (typically the winter before you plan to begin graduate school)

  • Many program application deadlines are in the month of December
  • Check to make sure your recommendations were sent on time and thank the people who wrote letters for you
  • If you will need to interview for your program, Interviewing Handout.

4-6 months to go (typically the spring before you plan to begin graduate school)

  • Consider scheduling visits to the various schools where you have applied. There may be open house events for prospective students that will give you a chance to learn more about the program and make a strong impression with the admissions committee.
  • Submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or other financial documents that may be required
  • During March and April many programs notify students of their admission decision
  • Make your decision about which program you will attend and notify the school of your acceptance. Also notify any programs you will decline.
  • Celebrate your success!