While the application process for graduate school can be overwhelming, it becomes easier to manage if you split the process into smaller steps over the course of several months (or even years). Here is a timeline for the application process to help you prepare over time!
TIMELINE (if applying for admission immediately following graduation from Lawrence)
Junior (Year 3)
If you plan to apply to graduate school during senior year, it’s a good idea to:
- Solidify which area of study you would like to pursue.
- Speak with advisers, professors, and career advisors about your interest in graduate school to get advice and suggestions for beginning the program search process.
- Create a CV. Here is a sample to help you get started. This resource can give more advice and examples. Our career advisor can help with this as well.
- Start research on graduate programs of interest. Things to consider include placement, curriculum, location and size, and more. Pay attention to details about required standardized exams, application processes and deadlines, faculty research, and financial aid/scholarship information. If necessary, contact schools for more information.
- Start gathering information about financial aid: scholarships, fellowships, and graduate and teaching assistantships. This list of resources for funding can help you.
- Start preparing for any necessary graduate admissions tests, such as the GRE
- Get involved in a research project if you have not already gained research experience – click here to explore research opportunities and watch our information session on how to apply to the Lawrence University Research Fellowship for the summer
- If possible, attend conferences in your discipline, especially if they include sessions for prospective graduate students or graduate school fairs
- If needed, prepare for taking the GRE exam
- Look into extramural fellowships in your relevant fields
Summer before senior year (June to August)
This is about 6 months away from most application deadlines. While it is important to use the summer to recharge or do other things like research or internships, it is important to have a strong start to your application process. It is important to:
- Narrow down the list of programs you intend to apply to (investigate potential faculty mentors, requirements, etc.) and record application requirements and deadlines. This school comparison worksheet can help you do so – you can also use Excel to recreate this worksheet.
- Prepare for and/or take the GRE or other required standardized exams
- Draft a personal statement or statement of purpose and any other required application essays or materials.
Early Fall (September to October)
By early fall, the application process speeds up. It is important to:
- Actively seek and apply for application fee waivers
- Contact faculty members to seek their advice and ask if they are willing to write you a strong recommendation letter
- If your discipline requires you to reach out to prospective faculty for your graduate program, start reaching out to them – you can find their contact information either on their website or on the department website
- Solicit feedback on your personal statement and any other essays from professors you know, campus writing centers, and/or your career advisor
- Register to take the GRE no later than October (if you haven’t already done so)
Late Fall (October to November)
By late fall, you should be nearing completion of your application materials.
- Complete application forms
- Revise and finalize your statement of purpose, CV, and any other essays
Application Deadlines (November to December – deadlines vary by program)
As year’s end approaches, send your applications by the due date
- Submit all applications
- Order/send transcripts
- Ask your letter writers to submit their recommendation letters, providing all the forms, information, and deadlines
- Verify that letters of recommendation, test scores, transcripts, and any other supporting documents were received by the graduate programs
Reach out for help!
The graduate school application process is daunting, but you do not have to go through it alone! Your professors, academic advisors and our career advisors will be happy to support you throughout this process. Feel free to reach out and make an appointment with Jacklyn Fischer, our PHN advisor, for help!