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Applying to Graduate School

How do I apply to graduate school?

Once you have identified the programs to which you plan to apply, your next step is to secure application forms. In most cases you will not be using a universal application form, rather you will apply to each program directly. Visit the program web site to learn how to get an application.

Generally, you will need to pay an application fee for each program. This can get costly. Ask if fee waivers are granted. Many programs offer fee waivers to students who can provide proof of financial need.

Read through the entire application before filling it out. This way you are aware of what forms are included (e.g., personal statement, recommendations) and what are not as well as what materials/information you'll need to have gathered so you may fill it out completely. Remember, things will differ program to program, institution to institution.

Filling out applications

Your goal is to provide admissions committees with the information they need in the format in which they request it so that your candidacy can be evaluated most effectively. If at any point you are unclear about what information you are being asked to provide, contact the school directly.

Be sure to provide complete information in every section of the application. If something does not apply to you, enter "N/A" so that the reader knows that you did not simply forget to supply the requested information.

Also, be aware of application deadlines. They are likely to differ program to program. Allow enough time for your completed applications to arrive well before the published deadline. If some of your programs have rolling admissions, don't wait until the very end to apply when the competition will be steeper for the few remaining slots. Get your application in early.

In addition to the application form itself, you will be asked to provide supplemental documents. Commonly requested supplemental documents include:

Important: be sure to submit your supplemental documents according to directions in your application. Some programs may request that your application form and all supplemental documents are mailed together in one envelope. Others may prefer that supplemental documents are mailed separately.

Also important: be sure to mail your application materials by registered mail and request "return receipt." This way you will have confirmation that your materials were received and when they were received should there be any question about whether or not you met the deadline.

Page last updated: August 14, 2013