Graduate School Admission Guide

why go onto graduate school

Selecting your graduate program is one thing - getting into the graduate school of choice is another.

There are several criteria that graduate programs review for admittance. These include your undergrad academic record, your entrance exam scores, your written essays and recommendations, and plus your work experience, community involvement and extracurricular background that sets you apart.

Below are four (4) quick summary tasks for college admission:

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graduate admission guideline

Getting Into Graduate School

Getting into graduate school is no secret. But remember, there are only a few admissions slots compared to the total number applications received. So prepare your application submission carefully.

A good site to review is It provides the inside intelligence on how each college's admission system works.

A General Guide to Follow

  1. Hedge Your Bets
    Submit your application to an assembled list of graduate programs that you'd like to attend.

    There are three categories of schools you should submit your application to:

    2-3 schools that you could definitely get in
    4-5 schools that you could probably get in
    7-8 schools that you would like to get in

    You should budget on how much you can afford for application submission. You may need to narrow your search to 3-3-3.
  2. Submit Your Application On-Time
    Note the application deadlines for all of your schools. Application submission is generally 6-9 months prior to the start date of the program. Get your completed application in early.
  3. Show Strong Academic Achievements
    The stronger your academics, the better your chances for admission.

    If this area is weak, try to make it up by college admittance test scores, strong essays, and a demonstration of outside leadership and experience.
  4. Show Strong Work Experience
    Many graduate programs require professional experience in your undergraduate field. It is not the number of years experience, but rather the depth and growth in your career that gets high marks for admissions.

    Note that competition for admission in noted programs can be fierce. It helps to have good experience, academics, high test scores, strong essays, and good recommendations.
  5. Study for the Standardized Tests
    Study hard to achieve high graduate admittance test scores. An above-average test score is NOT an automated ticket to admission. But it does add points in your favor with many programs.
  6. Submit Good Essays and Recommendations
    Here is an opportunity to show your creativeness and leadership skills by writing strong essays and having good recommendations from leaders in your profession and community.

    We recommend that your essays be reviewed by a professional writer prior to submission. Nothing could hurt you more than submitting an essay that is structurally weak.
  7. Display Professional - Community Leadership
    Finally, colleges admit applicants who display leadership skills in their professions and from participation in clubs, communities, church groups, and other extracurricular activities.
  8. Final Word
    Your application is one of thousands that must be reviewed by the graduate school's admissions staff. Submit the best overall application that you can.

graduate admission guideline

Graduate Admission Exams

Register to take your graduate entrance exam prior to submitting your graduate school application. It is best to take the exam within a 6-12 month window of your application submission.

Some programs may request you re-take the exam if your exam scores are several years old. It is also recommended that you take the exam only once. Some programs may average your exam scores if you have multiple test scores.

In other words,

  • study hard for the exam,
  • do it right the first time,
  • and don't miss your deadlines.

Graduate MS Programs

MBA Programs

LSAT (Law School Admission)

MCAT Programs (Medical School Admission)

DAT Programs (Dental School Admission)

Nursing Programs

Test Preparation Guides:

  1. Kaplan Testing Services:
    Kaplan offers online and in-room simulation tests with guidance on weak points that need to be improved.

graduate admission guideline

Graduate Submission Deadlines

9-12 Months Before Starting School

  • Select the graduate programs that you desire to attend.
  • Obtain the applications from the school. You can easily get the application online.
  • Decide who you will ask to write your recommendations. Give this person plenty of time (at least 4-6 weeks prior to your request date).
  • Keep a track of important dates. You don't want to miss a deadline.

7-9 Months Before Starting School

  • Begin working on your essays.
  • Collect your letters of recommendations.
  • Complete the application in preparation for submission
  • Make plenty of copies of your essays, letters of recommendations and application.

6-8 Months Before Starting School

  • Complete applications for normal admissions. Many of these submissions can be made online.
  • Start looking for housing, if required.

5-7 Months Before Starting School

  • Get your undergraduate transcripts sent to your intended schools. Reference the school's application.
  • Your school should be sending out acceptance letters. If you haven't heard from your school, contact them to make sure your application is complete (they may be waiting for a transcript or other item).

3-6 Months Before Starting School

  • Finalize your admissions requirements:

    — housing
    — final transcripts
    — registrations
    — medical checks
    — other

graduate admission guideline

Submit Application Forms

Many schools now allow for e-applications where you can submit one form to multiple schools. This will save time from having to complete multiple application that ask for the same information.

Request an application form from each of your colleges. You can find it online or request it from the school.

The package will include the application form, submission requirements (that include your essays, transcripts and other) and self-addressed envelopes for the letters of recommendations.

Use the COMMON Application Form

The COMMON application form is used by 300+ schools. This can save you time from completing multiple application forms. You can save the COMMON application form online until you are ready to submit it electronically to participating schools or get the application from your school.

some helpful college application resources
COMMON application form
essay resource and editing services

graduate admission guideline

Essays - Recommendations

Your graduate admissions will likely require 3 or more essays. Don't wait until the last minute to write and edit your essays. The essay is an important decisional component for many graduate admissions.

Most graduate admissions require 2 or more recommendations from managers and leaders in your profession, undergraduate teachers, and/or community leaders.

You need to find someone who has had some association with you in your profession and outside activities.

Give the person plenty of time to write the recommendation (about 4-6 weeks prior to your deadline).

Provide the following:

  • short autobiography and experience
  • list of your professional and community activities
  • deadline when the recommendation is due (allow 4-6 weeks prior to the deadline)
  • stamped self-addressed envelope to the college admission office

graduate admission guideline

Transcripts and Activities

Arrange with your undergraduate college (and any other degree awarded colleges and programs) to forward required transcripts to select graduate programs.

Some graduate programs may request your High School transcripts, especially if you you lack post-graduate experience. Be prepared to request your high school to forward transcripts if required.

You want to show well-roundness in your application. Just the right amount of work experience and outside activities. Graduate admission offices like to review candidates with community service on their application.

Helpful Tools

Some helpful tools for making decisions:

off-to-college map (pdf print file)
college cost comparison worksheet (excel file)