The graduate school admission process is complex and can be very daunting for many prospective students. Below you will find the steps involved in most graduate school applications. Above all, remember to read each application carefully! Each school has different processes and requirements.
Step #1 - Select Programs
We recommend that you select 3 – 5 schools to apply to that have your desired major. Feel free to apply to competitive programs but always have a back–up plan and at least one program where you are confident you would be accepted.
- Use the online directories from Step 2
- Request information and application materials (many schools allow you to download the application directly from their website)
- Examine the admission and program requirements for each school
- Talk to advisors, professors, and current students in the program
Step #2 - Determine Your Selection Standards
If you get into every school that you apply to, the only way to choose the right school is to decide what is most important to you about your graduate program. Therefore, you must think about your selection criteria and make comparisons.
Step #3 - Complete Applications
Graduate School applications have many components including but not limited to those listed below (click on each for more details)
Continue to Step 4 - Determine How You Will Finance Graduate School
Most schools will request official transcripts.
Make sure you have the correct address. In some instances, your records office may mail them directly. In other instances, the records office may give you a sealed envelope to mail with your application.
- Find out how many transcripts (if any) your school offers at no cost.
- Access or request an unofficial or official transcript for your own records.
- If the records office mails the transcript directly, follow-up with the program you are applying to in order to ensure your transcripts were received.
- If you are applying prior to your graduation, you will need to send another transcript after you graduate with your last semester grades.
Visit the records office website at Loyola University Maryland.
Graduate Admission Exams
Some schools require graduate admission test scores.
There are several types of graduate admission tests. See test names, dates, and registration information (PDF).
- Be sure to check testing dates in advance.
- Study materials for graduate entrance exams come in several forms including self-study with test prep materials, private tutoring and test prep courses.
Free Practice Test – Downloadable Instructions:
Letters of Recommendation
Most schools will require you to provide 1 – 3 recommendations.
- Some schools will ask that your recommendation be in a sealed enveloped – this means that the recommender should officially seal the letter of recommendation in an envelope before returning it to you or they should mail it directly to the school. Feel free to provide your references with an addressed, stamped envelope.
- Some schools will provide you with a recommendation form to have filled out by your references.
- Some schools will specify who can provide the recommendation: an instructor, supervisor, or personal references.
- Ask your references for recommendations early because they may get multiple requests from various students.
- Provide your references with a resume or CV that outlines your experiences and academic goals.
- Be clear about your timeline and the date that you will pick up the letter or when the letter needs to be mailed. You should provide at least four weeks (one month) to complete the recommendation.
- Send a thank you note electronically or by mail to your references and be sure to keep them updated of your progress.
Some programs will request work samples. Arts & Science programs frequently request a writing sample such as a research paper. Programs in performing and visual arts may request portfolios or electronic samples of performances.
- Work samples should be error free.
- Package the sample as requested in the application.
- Double check reference formatting such as APA, MLA, or Chicago for research papers.
Many schools will ask for a typed personal statement or essay. A personal statement is also referred to as a personal essay, letter of intent, statement of purpose, or application essay. It provides selection committees with an idea of your potential as a graduate student and your abilities as a writer.
- Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to answer every question. Each school you apply to may have a different question.
- Stick to the recommended length.
- Make sure your statement is error free and coherent.
- Let your personality come out.
- Do not write one essay and distribute it to every school.
- Think of it as a professional statement; include academics, activities, leadership, etc
- Career Goals
- Why chose your field
- Special interest areas
- Autobiographical statement
For more information about personal statements:
Resumes & Curricula Vitarum
Some schools may ask for a resume or CV. Regardless, it may be helpful to send one along with your application to highlight your professional experience and community involvement.
- Student/Professional Organizations
- Work Experience
- Special Skills
- Activities/Volunteer Experience
- Work History
- Professional Memberships
- Thesis information
- Conferences/Professional Development
See resume samples and tips (PDF).
See CV samples and tips (PDF).
Graduate Admission Interviews
Most programs, especially highly competitive ones, will require you to partake in an interview with an admissions counselor, academic advisor, or faculty member.
- Bring along copies of your resume or CV.
- Be prepared to discuss your academic and career goals.
- Be confident and poised.
- Express yourself clearly.
- Have a strong professional appearance.
- Be prepared for a telephone interview.
- Be aware of your non-verbal communication – it speaks volumes.
View some sample interview questions asked by Graduate Schools (PDF).
Nervous about interviews? Schedule a practice interview with a career advisor in The Career Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many schools have applications fees that are due when you submit your applications. These fees vary in cost. Check with the graduate admission office for special deals or waivers.
Continue to Step 4 - Determine How You Will Finance Graduate School >>