Application Timeline

You should start thinking about the admissions process earlier than you probably think. Ideally, if you are an undergraduate, you should begin the application process the summer before your senior year. This means that you've done all your school search homework and collected all the needed forms beforehand. If you've already graduated from college, you should begin applying a year before you plan to enter school, preferably in summer.

Check admissions deadlines with each school - they're often quite different from program to program. Some grad schools admit new students only for fall term, but others allow students to enroll at several times in the year.

To further complicate things, financial aid deadlines are often earlier than the last admissions deadline. Schools that admit students at several points in the year will often have financial aid available only for those entering in the fall. So planning is critical if you want to ensure that you'll have all the pieces of your application ready in time.


  • Research programs by collecting information and speaking with faculty, grad students and professionals in your field.


  • Plan visits to programs.
  • Research the Internet.
  • Determine what tests are required for admission, and take a diagnostic test to evaluate potential areas of weakness.


  • Make a list of potential recommenders.
  • Visit campuses, speak with department members.
  • Begin drafting personal statement.
  • Draft a resume geared toward academic interests and research abilities.
  • Contact choice programs, order newest application.
  • Ask about financial aid deadlines and required applications.
  • Take the GRE.


One year before graduate school begins.

  • Choose recommenders and, if possible, arrange a meeting.
  • Get all necessary info to them two months in advance.
  • Ask others to read your personal statement(s). Finalize the drafts.
  • Speak with current students and recent alumni in your choice programs.


  • Complete and mail applications.
  • Keep copies of everything you send.
  • Remind your recommenders of deadlines, if necessary.
  • Apply for financial aid. Complete the FAFSA no earlier than January 1st but no later than the campus and/or state deadline.
  • Submit any forms required by your school's financial aid office.


  • Receive award letter and, if necessary, consider educational loans to bridge the gap between financial aid awarded and total educational expenses.