Graduate School Preparation Timeline

All times indicated below are approximate. You should begin the application process at least one year before you plan to start graduate school. Deadlines for specific programs vary greatly, so be sure to look them up.

Summer Before Your Senior Year

  • Research graduate programs that will help you reach your academic and career goals. CLA students can start this process by visiting the CLA Career Services office to browse directories of graduate programs. You can also contact graduate programs directly to request information.
  • Study for the entrance exams / admissions tests that are required for your program of interest (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or others).
  • Write a draft of your Personal Statement (aka 'Statement of Purpose'). This is a very important part of your application and can sometimes be the deciding factor in the admissions decision.

Fall of Your Senior Year


  • Sign up for the admission test(s) required for the programs that interest you. Testing centers often have wait times of 2 to 4 weeks for the popular tests. A good site for general information is
  • Meet with faculty members about recommendation letters. Be sure you ask if they feel comfortable writing a strong, positive letter for you. (Professors are ideal, but it's ok if one of your letters is from an employer or advisor.) Give your recommenders whatever forms they need to fill out (if any). Provide your letter-writer with helpful information about you, such as your resume, transcripts, and personal statement. Make sure to start this process early, as some writers take longer than others!
  • Request fellowship information and applications from graduate programs.


  • Take the required admissions tests / entrance exams for your desired programs.


  • Order official transcripts from the U of M's Office of the Registrar, available from OneStop Student Services.
  • Complete and send graduate school applications, either online or in print.

Spring of Your Senior

  • Contact schools about the possibility of visiting, as a personal visit can often improve your chance of being accepted. Departments and programs will sometimes help with travel expenses, so be sure to ask.
  • Complete and submit any financial aid applications.
  • Note that if a program requests an interview with you, the interview will likely take place in January, February or March.