Although you should develop your own system and timeline for the application process, below you will find a timeline to get you started.
The application process can be lengthy and can take close to a year to complete. No two applications are the same and each school will likely want your materials to be organized in a specific way. The key is preparation and organization.
- Write a draft statement of purpose/personal statement. Reference books with essay samples are available at the Career Center to help you start the process.
- Develop your resume. Work with staff at the Career Center.
- Start browsing through guides to graduate programs, web sites, and college catalogs.
- Meet with faculty members that you know to discuss your personal statement and learn about possible programs.
- Ask for faculty members in your discipline if they would be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation.
- Begin to develop your personal timeline for the application process.
- Sign up for required standardized tests. Study for the tests and take practice tests.
- Take standardized tests. Take them early enough to have scores available before application deadline.
- Determine the schools to which you plan to apply, and request application materials.
- Finish your timeline based on each institution’s deadline and financial aid deadlines.
- Complete your personal statement, adjusting it to meet each application’s specific needs.
- Order transcripts from all post-secondary institutions (If fall term grades are expected, then check with staff in the registrar’s office to see if a transcript including fall term grades can be sent in time to meet the deadlines of programs to which you are applying).
- Explore and apply for sources of fellowships and scholarships.
- Complete application forms. Consider completing a rough draft of the application on a photocopy. Be sure to type and proofread your information.
- Supply recommenders with your personal statement, resumé, and a summary of the specific programs where you will apply. The more informed they are about your intentions, the better they can target your letters.
- Submit applications. Even if deadlines are later, it is good to get the applications in early.
- Contact programs about the possibility of visiting. Make trips if possible.
- If you are applying for need-based financial aid programs, you may be required to file a copy of your federal income tax return.
- Send thank you letters to those who served as your recommenders and let them know the outcome of your applications.
Timeline adapted from: Council of Graduate Schools, Graduate School and You: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students, Washington, DC: 2004. Used with permission.