Continue Your Education
Graduate school can be an important step—one that should not be taken lightly—in your educational and career journey. There are many reasons to pursue a graduate education, including love of a particular subject and the need for an advanced degree to further your career.
In some instances, an advanced degree will increase your marketability, while in others, additional work experience in your field will be more relevant. Program lengths vary, but most require at least two years of study. Consult with a staff member in Career Services for more information.
Why Graduate School?
Before applying to graduate programs, you should consider the following questions regarding the decision:
- Are you prepared to commit to a career field?
- What are your long-range career and lifestyle goals?
- How does a graduate degree help you reach those goals?
- Is it worth the financial investment?
- Is it worth the time investment?
Choosing a Program
Once you’ve decided to pursue a graduate degree, you’ll need to narrow down the list of potential programs. Use these questions to help you decide whether a program is right for you:
- What emphasis does the program use?
- What is the learning environment like?
- What is the student mix and attrition rate?
- Is this program located in an area I want (or can afford) to live in?
- How long will the program take?
- Where do graduates of the program typically find work?
- Do I meet the prerequisite requirements, such as GPA and graduate admission test scores?
- Are the faculty conducting research in areas that are of interest to me?
- What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
- What type of housing is available?
- How extensive and available are labs and facilities?
- How much does it cost?
- What financial assistance (internships, fellowships, assistantships) is available?
Additional Research Resources
Information for graduate and professional schools is available in Helmke Library and Career Services, and may be available in various academic departments. Information about graduate admissions tests (GRE, LSAT, etc.) is available through Testing Services. Information about financial aid is available through our Office of Financial Aid.
You can make an appointment with one of our staff members or a faculty member in your department to review your graduate school admissions strategy.
Applying to Graduate Programs
Applying to graduate school can take time, so it’s best to start by seriously considering your options at least one year before you intend to begin studying. Application deadlines vary, but most programs’ deadlines fall between January and March. Some schools have rolling admissions, meaning they accept applications throughout the year. Be sure to check the deadline for each program you’re considering.
Graduate and professional schools require specific graduate admissions tests depending on the nature of the program that you’re applying to. Be sure to thoroughly investigate the requirements for each program and to take the necessary tests early.
Most programs will require the following in their application packet:
- Application form
- Standardized test scores
- Letters of recommendation
While each program will have different requirements, the following is a general timeline for applying to graduate or professional school.
End of Junior Year
- Research areas of interest, institutions, and programs.
- Talk with your advisors about application requirements.
- Register and prepare for appropriate graduate admissions tests.
- Investigate national scholarships and financial aid.
Summer before Senior Year
- Request application materials.
- Take required graduate admissions tests.
- Visit schools of interest.
- Write your application essay.
- Check on application deadlines and rolling admissions.
- For medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry, or law school, you may need to register for the national application or data-assembly service most programs use.
First Semester of Senior Year
- Obtain letters of recommendation.
- Take graduate admissions tests if you haven’t already, or retake if so desired.
- Submit completed applications.
Last Semester of Senior Year
- Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and financial aid profile, if required, by the beginning of February.
- Check with schools to ensure that your application file is complete.
- Once accepted, visit schools to which you have been accepted.
- Send deposits, fall transcripts, and registration material.
- Notify other universities that accepted you of your decision so that they may admit other students on their waiting lists.
- Send thank-you notes to people who wrote you letters of recommendation, informing them of your success.