By your junior year, you should be aware of your future academic plans and proposed job plans. If a graduate degree is under consideration begin by understanding the difference between a masters program, a Ph.D. program and a direct admit Ph.D. program. Determine which degree is best to achieve your career goals. Have serious and in-depth discussions with your faculty advisors and other faculty mentors to understand your career options and graduate degree options.
*****Special Note: Keep a calendar that has all your graduate school application deadlines, such as, test dates, application deadlines, summer research programs deadlines, letter of recommendations deadlines and any interviews or campus visits. Interfolio.com offers a graduate school application service, specifically for letters of recommendations and application deadlines (for a fee) and a customizable grad school calendar.
Summer and Fall-
May – December- Study for GRE, If available sign up for GRE test prep course, look for summer research opportunities (SROP) that can give you the skills to conduct graduate-level research
• Start drafting your personal statement for the SROP programs
• Consider what you will use for your writing sample. If nothing is available to consider possible research topics.
January- Consider what you would discipline you would like to attain your graduate degree
• Are you interested in a Masters degree?
• Are you interested in a doctorate degree?
• Contact those in your field of interest (previous professors) or current graduate students in the field or at the school you are interested. Ask questions about graduate school life and being a researcher/scholar. Ask for informational interviews to learn more about the field and graduate school experience.
o Send thank you notes for each informational interview (handwritten or via email)
April- Take a GRE Practice test (this will help you determine how much more studying you need to do) and start researching grad schools.
• When researching grad schools identify professors whose interests align with yours. Familiarize yourself with the work of those chosen professors.
• Request information from the grad schools of interest
o Pay close attention to course pre-requisites (if applicable), g.p.a. and GRE requirements
May- July- register for GRE
July- contact previous professors, advisors, and supervisors to request letters of recommendation
July- August- take GRE (if you are not happy with your scores (you will see them immediately after completion), register for November GRE (if necessary).
August-Begin drafting your statement of purpose
August-September- Finalize your list of prospective schools (note application deadlines and application fees); Continue working on your personal statement
• Have the writing lab or friends/professors you trust to edit your statement
• In choosing your prospective schools, familiarize yourself with all professors who share a similar research interest in you, both within your field and outside your field
• Contact faculty at prospective school who share research interests and let them know you are interested in obtaining your graduate degree and your research interests. Ask if they have any suggestions. Ask if they are currently advising graduate students and teaching any classes within the next year.
• During this time you should also contact potential recommenders again with your list of prospective schools (inclusive of deadlines), your resume and statement of purpose
• Research potential fellowships or assistantships in your field.
October-December- Request transcripts, Finalize your personal statement, begin applying to graduate programs
• Verify that all letters of recommendation have been sent (give recommenders a deadline that is two weeks in advance of actual deadlines to ensure your letters arrive on time).
• Confirm receipt of all application materials.
January- complete any final applications that are due during this time
January-March- Wait it out! Make sure FAFSA application is completed in case you need more need-based financial assistance
• You may begin to receive letters offering admission, offering you a place on a waiting list, or politely denying your admission. It is almost always a good idea to wait until you have heard from all programs before making a decision about which to attend.
• You may be invited to interviews at some of your schools. If an interview is optional, consider exercising the option in order to gain more information about the program and how well it meets your goals.
March- April- Make your decision! Congratulations!!!! Compare all your offers and discuss possibilities with family, friends, and advisors.