Graduate School Preparation Timeline
You should begin the application process at least one year before you plan to start graduate/professional school. Deadlines for specific programs vary greatly, so be sure to research them in advance.
Here’s a preparation timeline you can follow to get the right things done at the right times—and to best prepare yourself for eventual success.
*Note: All times indicated here are approximate.
Spring (junior year, or 15 to 18 months prior to enrollment)
- Reflect on personal and professional goals to determine if graduate school is right for you.
- Discuss your plans and options with trusted mentors, advisors, family, alumni, etc.
- Identify key considerations you will be looking for in a graduate program (e.g., location, cost, program, faculty, ranking, financial aid, etc.).
- Begin researching and evaluating programs.
- Identify and build relationships with potential letter of recommendation writers (faculty, instructors, advisors, supervisors, etc.).
Summer (12 to 15 months prior to enrollment)
- Contact admissions officers, faculty, and students/alumni for your program(s) of interest to get more information, determine fit, and build relationships.
- Get organized! Learn about the admissions criteria and timelines of your applications.
- Begin narrowing down your list of program options, ultimately selecting two to five that you’ll apply to.
- Study and register for entrance exams, if necessary.
Fall (senior year, or 10 to 12 months prior to enrollment)
- Take the required entrance exams.
- Order official transcripts from One Stop.
- Gather application materials and feedback on your personal statement and résumé/CV.
- Ask for letters of recommendation at least four weeks in advance.
- Learn about funding/financial aid opportunities.
- Submit your application and supporting materials by the deadline(s).
Winter/Spring (senior year, or 6 to 10 months prior to enrollment)
- Send thank-you notes to your recommenders.
- Prepare for and complete interviews, if necessary.
- Patiently await admissions decisions.
- Contact schools about the possibility of visiting.
- Consider multiple options and make a decision!