Graduate School Application Process

Ideally the graduate school application process should begin during the junior year. Most deadlines, other than those for medical school, are between January and March of the senior year for fall entry. It’s important to remember that applying early to a school with rolling admissions gives the committee more time to review and evaluate your application.

Ideal Timetable for the Application Process

Fall to Spring of Junior Year

  • Research areas of interest, institutions, and programs.
  • Talk to advisers about application requirements.
  • Register and prepare for appropriate graduate admission tests.
  • Investigate national scholarships.
  • If appropriate, obtain letters of recommendation.

Spring to Summer following Junior Year

  • Take required graduate admission tests.
  • Write for application materials.
  • Visit institutions of interest.
  • Write your application essay.
  • Check on application deadlines and rolling admissions policies.
  • For medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry, or law school: you may need to register for national application or data assembly services.

Fall of Senior Year

  • Obtain letters of recommendation.
  • Take graduate admission tests, if you haven’t already.
  • Send in completed applications.

Spring of Senior Year

  • Check all institutions before their deadlines to ensure that all materials have been received.
  • Visit institutions that accept you.
  • Send a deposit to your institution of choice.
  • Notify other institutions that accepted you of your decision so that students on waiting lists can be admitted.
  • Send thank-you notes to those who wrote letters of recommendation for you, informing them of your success.

Adapted from: Peterson’s Guide to Graduate and Professional Programs: An Overview 1995

Graduate School Resources