How to Prepare a Strong Graduate School Application

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You’ve found the perfect graduate program—one with a world-class faculty whose research excites you, an academic experience that will challenge you, a diverse and inclusive culture, a supportive environment with outstanding faculty and peer mentors, and lots of resources to help you succeed no matter which career paths you want to pursue. Now it’s time to convince that program you are a great match for it as well. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare a strong application:

The process of strengthening your graduate school application starts while you are still an undergraduate. Here is a timeline and suggestions for avenues to explore while you are pursuing your undergraduate degree.

Freshman and sophomore years

  • Assess your interests, abilities, and career goals
  • Identify a mentor 
  • Look into graduate school preparation events (e.g., boot camps, pre-application campus visits, summer programs)

Junior year

  • Gather information on graduate programs
  • Gather application materials
  • Learn about entrance examination requirements and dates
  • Investigate application deadlines

Pre-Senior Summer

  • Narrow your list of graduate schools
  • Investigate funding sources
  • Write the first draft of your statement of purpose
  • Contact recommendation sources

Senior year (Start Early)

  • Select the schools you want to apply to
  • Register for entrance exams
  • Submit completed applications
  • Make arrangements to obtain your transcripts for upload into application (8 weeks before application deadline)
  • Make arrangements for entrance exam scores to be sent (8 weeks before application deadline)
  • Contact recommenders to request strong letters of recommendation (4-6 weeks before application deadline)
  • Prepare final versions of your statement of purpose
  • Review federal requirements for financial aid
  • Complete and submit applications with required fee (at least two weeks prior to the deadline)
  • Your fit with the department or program in terms of research goals, work culture, or other measures
  • Relevant research or internship experience
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Undergraduate grades
  • Patterns of academic study and relevance of prior coursework to proposed graduate study

Many graduate programs require a personal statement or statement of purpose as part of your application. As you write that statement, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Make the statement about you, your skills, your potential, and your interest in graduate studies in a particular department/program at a particular institution.
  • Avoid misrepresentations and grandiose statements.
  • Engage the reader using active words.
  • Avoid negative or judgmental statements (which usually come across as rude or arrogant).
  • Do not describe in detail what you have done. Briefly state and explain what you have learned, how it led to your interests, or how it has prepared you for success in graduate school.
  • State why you are interested in graduate school and in a particular field of study.
  • Share your motivation and career goals.
  • Share why you have chosen to apply to a particular institution.
  • If possible, indicate faculty with whom you have an interest to work.
  • Do your homework: Know the school. Know the admissions and enrollment statistics for your department or program of interest. Know application deadlines.
  • Avoid form essays.
  • Follow the application directions and guidelines for each institution.

Most Ph.D. programs require an interview—whether on campus or via videoconference—for applicants they are considering for admission, and some master’s programs may require an interview as well. This is your chance to meet with faculty who might potentially sponsor your graduate study. It’s also an opportunity to gather more information about the program. Here is some guidance to help you make a good impression and get the most out of the experience.

  • Before your interview, look closely at the website for the schools and departments you’re applying to. 
  • Show that you have done your homework on the program’s faculty’s research and be able to talk about specific faculty whose work interests you.
  • Your research interest
  • How your educational and professional background has prepared you for graduate study
  • Why this particular program would be a good fit for you
  • If you are applying to the same institution where you did your undergraduate, why you think that institution (and that program) is still the best program for your graduate study
  • Typical funding and how it compares to living expenses in the area
  • The program’s teaching or research requirements 
  • The departmental culture (e.g., are diversity and inclusion priorities for the department and for the university? Do students from different walks of life feel like they belong?) 
  • Resources for professional development and student wellbeing
  • The environment of support for graduate students, both in the department and in the university at large
  • The point of contact for questions
  • Crimson Careers
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Whether you’ve just finished your undergraduate degree or you want to pivot your career, grad school may be the next logical step in your educational and professional development.

But how do you apply to graduate school so you have the best chance at receiving that coveted acceptance letter? Read on to learn how to submit the perfect graduate school application to impress admissions officers. For information on due dates and a printable timeline, check out our  grad school application checklist .

How Grad Schools Evaluate Your Application

The exact criteria for  graduate school admissions  vary depending on the school and program. Still, there are certain qualifications, including GPA and grades from specific undergraduate courses, that all admissions officers consider. Most graduate programs look for a minimum 3.0 GPA.

A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 318 is considered strong and can help your application. A professional resume with work experience related to your program is often helpful or required. Programs typically ask for letters of recommendation and a  graduate school admissions essay  as well.

Are You a Good Fit for the Program?

Whichever program you apply for, you must first make sure it’s a good match. Consider the following questions before submitting your application:

  • Do you love the field of study the program you’re applying to focuses on?
  • Do you have an undergraduate degree or work experience in an area related to your graduate school program of choice?
  • Will earning this degree help you advance your career or earning potential?
  • Do you have the resources to pay for graduate school, either through your own funds or through loans, grants and scholarships? For more information about this, see our guide on  how to pay for graduate school .

Taking time to reflect on these questions can help you decide whether graduate school is right for you. You can also reach out to professors, students and alumni to get a better feel for your prospective program. You might even schedule a tour of the campus before applying.

Do You Have Relevant Internship or Research Experience?

Internships and relevant work experience may not make or break your graduate school application, but they can help set your application apart from the rest. Once you’re in a graduate program, you may be required to complete an internship or research work to graduate.

What Does Your Statement of Purpose Demonstrate?

A statement of purpose or personal statement tells admissions committees more about you. This essay should touch on your interests, especially as they relate to the graduate school program. The statement of purpose should also describe what you can bring to the program and why you want to be a part of it.

What Do Your Letters of Recommendation Demonstrate?

Letters of recommendation are important for graduate school because they show that credible academics and professionals think highly of you and believe you would be a good asset to the program you’re applying to.

An effective letter of recommendation is written by someone who knows you well academically or professionally, such as a professor, mentor or work supervisor. It should include titles of relevant research articles you’ve written, academic awards and honors and relevant academic activities like projects, presentations or research studies.

What Do Your Undergraduate Transcripts Show?

Simply put, official undergraduate transcripts verify that you attended the school you said you did and maintained a GPA that’s consistent with the program’s requirements. Undergraduate transcripts also allow admissions officers to see whether you took courses relevant to your prospective course of study.

How Are Your GRE Scores?

Most graduate school programs require students to take the GRE as part of the application process. An overall score of 318 or higher is considered a good score, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to study and retake the test if needed before your grad school application is due.

Is Your Prior Academic Experience Relevant?

While you don’t always need an undergraduate degree in the same field as the graduate program you’re applying to, admissions officers typically consider relevant undergraduate coursework, research projects and work experience when reviewing applications.

Statement of Purpose Tips

Your statement of purpose gives you the chance to show some individuality and let your personality shine through. You should aim to leave a memorable impression and craft a well-written, concise statement of purpose to boost your application. See our tips below for writing a statement of purpose.

Follow the Prompt Carefully

Be sure to answer all of the questions in the prompt to give admissions officers all the information they need. Additionally, make sure to follow any guidelines for things like style, font and file format. While these factors may seem small, incorrect formatting can lead to your application being disqualified.

Get Personal

This is your chance to tell your story. Write a statement of purpose that only you could write. Does your passion for medicine date back to an injury or illness you had as a child? Did you grow up watching Law & Order and feel inspired? These details remind graduate admission committees that you are a well rounded person with much to offer.

Discuss Your Goals

Aside from how your own personal and career goals relate to the program, you should also touch on how you can contribute to your school or program of choice. Do you plan on collaborating with colleagues or contributing to your institution’s research goals? Make this known in your statement of purpose.

Know Your Audience

What is the culture of the school or program you’re applying to? What does the institution value? Spend some time on its website and social media accounts to find out. You can even reach out to current students and alumni to get a better idea so you can tailor your statement of purpose accordingly.

Proofread and Revise as Needed

Don’t just write your first draft and send it off. After writing it, take some time to sleep on it, then come back and read and revise with fresh eyes. You should also have someone like a professor or tutor read your statement of purpose and provide feedback.

Interview Tips

The interview is a big part of the graduate school application process if your program requires one. Make sure to come ready and prepared.

Do Your Research

Read up on the university and program you’re applying to so you can sound knowledgeable and interested during the interview. Answer questions such as, how big is the program or school? What have its graduates gone on to do? What are the program requirements?

You can also read up on any academic articles or research professors in your program have created.

Prepare Questions for Your Interviewer

Remember, this isn’t just about the school interviewing you. You’re also interviewing the program to determine if it’s a good fit for you. What career and network opportunities are available to students and alumni? What about grants and scholarships? Will you be paired with a mentor or an advisor?

Practice With Mock Interviews

Practice makes perfect. Look into common graduate school interview questions, and practice with a professor, classmate or friend. You can even practice solo using these  20 Graduate School Interview Questions .

Bring a Professional Portfolio

Depending on the nature of your work, it may be helpful to bring in a professional portfolio, such as if your speciality is print graphic design. Other subject areas like writing or research lend themselves to online portfolios, which you can send to your interviewers ahead of the scheduled interview.

What Does a Grad School Application Look Like?

In addition to your transcripts, test scores, statement of purpose and portfolio, your graduate school application will require some basic background information about you.

Biographical Information

  • Full legal name
  • Any previous legal names used
  • Age and date of birth
  • Social Security number

Ethnicity Information

Ethnicity information about applicants and current students is used by the university to see if it is meeting diversity quotas and to share with stakeholders. You may select one particular ethnicity, or choose options like “other,” “multiracial” or “decline to state.”

Military Status

Scholarships, grants and special services can be available to active-duty and reserve military service members and veterans.

Contact Information

  • Current mailing address
  • Current phone number
  • Current email

Program Selection

  • The program you’re applying to
  • Any speciality or concentrations available as part of your program

Academic Interests

  • Specialities in your program that you want to focus on
  • Research topics or projects you want to pursue

History of Education

  • Undergraduate degree and major
  • Academic achievements and awards

Standardized Test Information

  • *GRE scores (Check with your program as some may no longer require or accept GRE scores )
  • Scores from any other required tests

Financial Aid

Deadlines for financial aid often coincide with deadlines for admissions. Make sure to submit the FAFSA to ensure you qualify for as many financial aid resources as possible. Visit the  Federal Student Aid  website for more information, and check out our guide on  how the FAFSA differs for graduate school .

Previous Employment

  • Relevant work history related to your program
  • Internship or research experience related to your program

Do you speak the primary language spoken in the area where your campus is located? Do you speak more than one language? These are things admissions officers will want to know.

Supplemental Information

  • Certifications or special licenses or training
  • Special Awards

Reference Information

  • Contact information, like phone numbers and emails, for professors, mentors and work supervisors who are willing to provide a reference

Upload Documents

When submitting your online application, make sure to upload all required documents so your application will not be disqualified.

Application Fee

  • Graduate school application fees can range from around $60 to more than $100. You must pay this fee before you can submit your application.

Confirm and Submit Form

  • Finally, make sure to confirm that all your information is correct and all necessary documents are uploaded before you submit your application.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com on Feb. 3. 2023. Author is Ryah Cooley Cole, and Editor is Brenna Swanston.

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Gre prep online guides and tips, how to get into grad school: 29 tips for applying.

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Want to know how to get into grad school? Let me lend you my graduate school expertise: I’ve been through the process myself and I’m now attending my dream school! In this expert guide, I’ll teach you the big-picture principles you should use to shape your application. I’ll also give you specific tips for all the major parts of your application. Getting into grad school is something you can do!

How to Get Into Graduate School: Big-Picture Principles

These four tips for applying to graduate school relate to your entire application. If you keep them in mind as you craft and tweak all the parts of your application, you’ll be well on your way to getting into grad school!

Understand Expectations in Your Field

If you want to be a successful graduate school applicant, you need to have a decent idea of what your field is looking for. Are you applying to a field where applicants are expected to have work experience, or do applicants usually go straight through from undergrad? Should you have spent time teaching or researching in a lab?

Having an impression of these expectations—and how your experience fits into them—will go a long way towards helping you craft a strong application. First, you’ll know what to emphasize in your application. Second, you’ll be able to figure out if there’s any additional experience you should seek out to strengthen your candidacy. (If you think you have a lot of holes to fill, it may not be the right time in your life to apply ).

Craft an Overall Narrative With Your Application

Your application should craft a clear narrative of who you are and why you’re applying to graduate school. Consider what each part of your application shows about what you bring to the table and how graduate school will help you achieve your own goals. How do the parts work together? Do they give a clear, consistent picture of you and your goals?

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Show Your Personality (Professionally)

You want your application to show what makes you stand out as a person or else you’ll be generic. Unique accomplishments are great and you should definitely highlight those. But it’s also great to infuse your application with a little personality to add some color and help you seem dimensional. To that end, it’s fine to include references to your hobbies, interests, and non-academic accomplishments.

With that said, you also want to be professional. It’s great if you mention that you build cars in your spare time; it’s less great if you highlight your prowess as an amateur street racer. You should also be careful with jokes. A mildly amusing anecdote is fine; something that relies on shock or making fun of someone or something is not a good idea. If the people reading your application don’t share your sense of humor, it can make you come off as tone-deaf.

Demonstrate Your Interest

Above all, your application needs to demonstrate real enthusiasm for the programs that you are applying for. If you seem lukewarm or unsure about graduate school, admissions committees won’t be very motivated to offer you a place in your program! You want to show admissions offices that you are truly passionate about the subject matter and will be motivated to work hard to meet your goals.

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Grad School Application Tips for Every Part of Your Application

The four principles we discussed above will help you shape your overall application. Think of them as your big-picture principles. However, when you’re contemplating how to get into grad school, both the big picture and the tiny details are critical to application success. In this section, we’ll discuss some more detailed tips for applying to grad school for each major part of your application.

Recommendations

Here are three grad school application tips for getting stellar recommendations:

Choose Recommenders Who Know You Well

You might think that the best way to select a recommenders is to choose the professors or supervisors with the fanciest titles and most clout. However, unless these people know you pretty well and can speak specifically to your abilities and talents, their recommendations actually won’t be worth much.

Programs will typically specify what kinds of recommendations they are looking for (e.g. professional, academic, a combination of the two, etc). Within those confines, select people who have worked with you closely and can speak very specifically to your strengths. It’s much better to get a glowing and detailed letter from a teaching assistant than a super-generic, short note from the department head who you met one time!

If it’s been awhile since you worked with a prospective recommender, it’s fine to send them a sample or summary of the work you did while you took their class/were their employee/etc. This will help jog their memory and increase the specificity of their recommendation.

Ask for Strong Recommendations

When you do ask for a recommendation letter, make sure you ask for a strong recommendation letter. People often feel that they can’t say no if you request a letter, even if they just feel fairly neutral towards you. But if you ask if they can write a strong letter of recommendation, they will be more honest about what you can really expect from them.

You want someone who is genuinely excited about you, your accomplishments, and your future; asking for a strong recommendation will help guarantee you get that.

Request Well in Advance

The earlier you can request a recommendation letter, the better (within reason; don’t ask a year in advance). You should ask at least six weeks before any recommendation deadlines. Earlier is better, especially for professors, who often have to write many recommendation letters every year.

When a recommender agrees, it’s also fine to follow up with a reminder when the deadline gets closer. Just so long as you aren’t pestering your recommender every day, it’s not rude. In fact, some recommenders request it!

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Test Scores

These two tips for getting into grad school focus on your grad school admissions test scores. Most programs ask for the GRE, but these same tips apply if you are taking a different test, like the GMAT.

Set a Score Goal

Setting a score goal for your standardized tests is an essential element of application success. The right goal score for your program is one that is high enough to make sure your application is considered, but not so high that you’re wasting time on test prep that would be better spent on other elements of your application.

For more on setting a GRE goal score, see our guide to what makes a good GRE score for you .

In addition to helping you know what score you need to for admission to your graduate programs, a goal score will also help you with preparation. It will help you know how much you need to improve at the outset, which will help you structure your preparation and create a study plan .

Take the Test Early

Taking the test early is good for your graduate school application for a couple of reasons. First, if you take the test early, before the application cycle is in full swing, you’ll be able to devote more concentrated energy to test prep. Basically, you’ll get all of the prep and test-taking out of the way before you have to start worrying about things like essays and requesting recommendations and all the other moving parts of a grad school application.

Taking the test early is also a good idea because it leaves you with enough time to do additional preparation and re-take the test again if you don’t meet your goal score. So if you’re applying in the fall,  try to take the test the spring or summer before you apply.

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Transcripts

Here are two transcript-related tips for applying to grad school.

Request All Necessary Transcripts

It’s worth noting that not all graduate programs have the same transcript request requirements. For example, some are fine with you only scanning unofficial transcripts and sending official ones if you’re accepted, while others want to see official transcripts at the time of application.

Another thing to note is that not all programs want to see the same transcripts (whether they ask for official or unofficial). While all programs will want to see your transcripts from any institution where you got a bachelor’s or graduate degree, they vary on other transcripts. Some want to see transcripts for individual college classes you took (including in high school), some don’t. Some programs will want to see transcripts from places you got an associate’s degree or certificate, and others don’t.

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You can typically find out what transcripts are required on the admissions website. But if you’re not sure if you need to scan your transcript from the multivariable calculus class you took at the local college in your senior year of high school, call and ask. You don’t want your application to be held up because you didn’t request all the right transcripts!

Request Transcripts in Advance

Don’t wait until the last minute to request official transcripts if you need them! You should request all transcripts from your previous institutions at least a month in advance of any deadlines and earlier if possible. This will give you enough time to address any administrative or bureaucratic errors, like your transcript getting lost in the mail, without running afoul of any deadlines.

Additionally, if you wait too long to request your transcripts, you might have to do a rush order to meet the deadline. This is very expensive and, at some colleges, somewhat unreliable. Don’t put yourself at the mercy of university bureaucracy. Request those transcripts early and follow up on them to make sure they’ve been received!

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Resumes and CVs

Below find four tips for honing your resume or CV and getting into graduate school.

Decide on a Resume or CV

Some programs specify whether they would prefer to receive a resume or a CV from applicants. In this case, provide the one that they request. In general, professional-focused programs will ask for resumes, while more academic-focused programs will request a CV.

However, other programs leave the choice up to you. This isn’t necessarily a make-or-break choice, but one or the other will probably be a more logical fit for your experience. If most of your experience is professional, go for a resume. If most of it is academic, go for the CV.

Use Impactful Language

A good resume or CV highlights what you’ve done, but it also gets right to the point. So making the most out of a few words is critical. Use succinct, action-focused sentences and phrases, and provide numbers and metrics if possible. For example, instead of writing “coordinated study on cardiovascular disease,” write, “coordinated 2000-person, 18-month longitudinal cardiovascular disease study.”

Highlight Relevant Research and Professional Experience

Call special attention to experiences that are very relevant to the program to show how your past experience has lead you into graduate school and what you have to offer to the program. Be sure to highlight projects you worked on in professional and school settings that honed the skills you’ll need in the specific graduate program.

Even if you don’t think there’s an obvious superficial connection between, say, a job or major responsibility you’ve had and the program in question, try to think how you could make one. Directed a lot of plays in college, but you’re applying to a biology PhD? Highlight how the skills you learned directing plays honed your ability to manage big projects, clearly communicate your ideas to others, and act as a teacher and leader.

Essentially, the best graduate school resume is one that tailors your descriptions of your accomplishments to the specific competencies and skills the program is looking for.

Be Comprehensive

While you want to tailor how you describe your experiences in your resume to what the admissions committee is looking for, not everything on your list has to be directly and clearly relevant to the graduate program. It’s better to be comprehensive than to leave off significant but less relevant experiences.

You can mention volunteer work, extracurricular, recognition for creative endeavors, non-academic publications, and similar personal projects in your resume or CV. This will give admissions committees a sense of who you are as a person. For example, if you’re applying to STEM PhDs, it still makes sense to mention the summer you spend backpacking across Asia. It may not be STEM-related, but it shows that you’re adventurous, independent, and open to new experiences!

It’s also worth noting that graduate school applications don’t expect quite the same level of specificity and concision in resumes as you’ll find in the professional workforce, so you don’t have to be quite as worried about space.

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These four tips on how to get into graduate school focus on your essay/personal statement. Most of these tips would also apply to a statement of purpose, but we have specific statement of purpose tips in the next section, too.

Focus on Your Accomplishments

While you will definitely devote some space to your future goals and plans in your grad school essay, you also want to spend a sufficient amount of time discussing things you’ve already accomplished. How have your past experiences prepared you for graduate study? How have you already demonstrated your ability to excel in your chosen pursuits? This will show admissions committees that you have a proven track record of success, which will make them want to admit you!

Don’t be Cliche or Generic

It’s good to avoid cliches in all writing. Phrases that are used too commonly used lose their descriptive power and become basically meaningless. When you identify cliches in your writing, think about how you can offer specific, colorful detail instead.

You should also avoid making generic or overly general statements. Vague platitudes like “I want to go to graduate school to help people” or “I want to discover new things” make you seem like an unoriginal thinker and can cause admissions officers to roll their eyes. Who do you want to help and how? What do you want to discover?

Use Specific Examples

Use specific examples of things you’ve actually done or learned as much as possible. Instead of “I accomplished a lot in my undergraduate career,” talk about what you actually accomplished. Giving examples of your experiences not only provides some evidence for your claims about yourself, it makes you seem like a more interesting and thoughtful person.

Why This Program?

You may well be able to re-use your essays for multiple schools because graduate school prompts for similar programs are often quite similar. However, you should still tweak your essay to provide a little specificity for each program. A couple of sentences about what that particular program offers that excites you will make you seem like a more thoughtful and interested applicant.

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Statement of Purpose/Research Statements

Many programs (basically all PhDs and some master’s program) require a statement of purpose or research statement. This is a short essay about your research interests, accomplishments, and plans. Here are two brief tips for a stellar research statement.

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Address Past, Present, and Future Research

Your future research plans are of particular interest to admissions committees; you’ll be working on that research at their institution, after all. But you also need to be sure to address your past and present research projects. You want to craft a clear narrative that shows how what you want to do in the future builds on what you’ve done before and why you’re the best one to do it.

Write for a Nonspecialist Audience

Most of the people who look at your research statement aren’t going to be deep experts in your field. They will be smart and well-informed, but primarily not specialists in whatever it is you’ve been researching. This means that you should avoid overly arcane, discipline-specific language (i.e. jargon). You should also make an effort to provide some context and situate yourself and your work within your field. Why is what you are doing significant? It won’t be self-evident to most of your readers.

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Writing Samples

Does your application require a writing sample? We have two grad school application tips for writing samples here!

Follow Directions

When programs ask for writing samples, they almost always provide guidelines about the length and potential appropriate formats or topics. Follow these guidelines. If they ask for a maximum of 20 pages and your best work is 23, cut it down. If they want academic writing, don’t send in your freelance journalism. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is; if you don’t follow the directions, you’ll be communicating that you don’t know how to follow directions, which will not impress.

Make an Appropriate Selection

How do you select among your pieces of writing that meet the application criteria? Your first and foremost concern should be selecting your best work possible. Don’t worry too much if it’s not topically relevant to the program; you’re primarily trying to convey that you’re a good academic writer. If you aren’t sure what your best work is, ask other people for input.

If you have multiple high-quality pieces of writing to choose from, then consider relevance, and pick the one most relevant to the program.

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Not every graduate school application process requires interviews, but if they do, they are often a key part of getting into grad school. Here are two tips for acing interviews:

Be Prepared

Prepare for your grad school interview at least as rigorously as you would prepare for a job interview. Consider what kinds of questions you might be asked, and how you’ll answer them. If you can get a friend or mentor to practice interviewing with you, so much the better.

If you know who your interviewer is in advance, read up on them! Especially if it’s a faculty member, you should definitely be informed about their research interests and projects. (This doesn’t mean you have to read everything they’ve ever written—but you should have a general idea of who they are and what they do.)

Ask Questions

You should always ask questions in interviews. It shows that you are really invested in the application process and makes you seem more engaged. Think of a couple questions in advance that you might want to ask your interviewer, and supplement with any that occur to you throughout the process!

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Other Tips for How to Get Into Grad School

Here are four additional tips that could apply to any part of your application:

Proofread Application Before Sending

Check that all the parts on your application are free of any spelling, grammatical, or functional errors. Also make sure your formatting is crisp and professional. Saving documents as PDFs can help cut down on wonky formatting issues.

Identify and Address Specific Weaknesses

If you know there’s a weak point in your application, like a low GPA, it’s okay to acknowledge and address it head-on. (You’d most likely do this in your essay). Don’t make excuses, but if there were extenuating circumstances, explain them. You can also discuss what you learned and point to evidence of improvement in the weak area.

Mention Specific Faculty You’d Like to Work With

It’s a good idea to mention specific faculty in your program of interest that you’d like to work with somewhere in your application. This shows that you’re knowledgeable about the program and department. You can decide the best place to put this info—in an essay or a short-answer question where it’s relevant is a good bet.

It’s also not a bad idea to directly reach out to faculty whose work interests you! This will show that you have initiative and a lot of interest in the program.

Don’t Be Afraid to Call and Ask Questions

If there’s anything you aren’t sure about in the application process, go ahead and call the admissions office to ask questions! Some students are afraid to ask for clarification on directions and procedures because they think it might look bad. It definitely won’t; if anything, it will show that you are conscientious about getting things right!

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Getting Into Grad School: What Hurts Your Chances?

When it comes to getting into graduate school, what can torpedo an otherwise strong application? Here are six major errors to avoid:

Missing Deadlines

Missing application deadlines never looks good. While some programs will still accept delayed applications or application pieces after deadlines, others won’t even accept them. That makes all your hard work for nothing!

And even if they a program does accept your late application, it looks bad and makes you seem disorganized. This does not say great things about your possibilities for success in graduate school. Get everything together as early as possible to stay on top of deadlines!

Incomplete Applications

It’s critical that your application isn’t missing any pieces.  Many programs will disqualify your application automatically if there are missing parts. Even if they do consider the application, again, you’ll seem disorganized, which won’t impress the admissions committee. Plus, you want to give a complete picture of who you are as an applicant by providing all the information possible.

Carefully track what every program asks for and follow up if you’re worried that something got lost in cyberspace.

Weak/Lukewarm Recommendations

Obviously a negative recommendation can hurt you. But a really generic or lukewarm recommendation can really hurt your application, too! It will make it seem like there’s nothing particularly memorable or noticeable about you to admissions committees. The last thing you want is to seem totally interchangeable with any other student.

There are two things you can do to avoid getting a lukewarm recommendation. First, select the right recommender—someone who really knows you. Second, ask for a strong recommendation.

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You probably already know this, but it’s not a good idea to lie anywhere on your application. First, if your deception is discovered before you’re admitted, that application is going straight into figurative (and probably literal) trash. If it’s discovered after you’re admitted, your offer will most likely be rescinded immediately. Either way, this kind of deception can haunt you throughout your life. The potential consequences are absolutely not worth it. 

Also, embellishing what you’ve done doesn’t present a clear picture of who you really are. This prevents you from being able to find the graduate school that’s an actual match for you, not a made-up version for you.

Unprofessional Writing

Graduate programs expect that your writing in your application to be the same quality as the work you’ll do in their program. It’s incredibly important that your writing shows that you know how to effectively and appropriately communicate in professional and academic settings. This means avoid overly informal language or slang, and triple-check for any spelling and grammatical errors. If your writing seems tone-deaf or careless, it can dramatically hinder your application chances.

  • Oversharing

Yes, you want to show your personality in your application. But you want to show it professionally. The admissions committee does not want to know how much you love your sexy boyfriend Jerome, all the clubbing you do on the weekend, or how much you despise Kathy from marketing.

If you overshare inappropriately, it will make it seem like you have bad judgment. This is one of the biggest red flags possible to admissions committees and can completely kill an otherwise strong application.

So what can you share? It’s a good idea to avoid talking about anything you wouldn’t bring up in a job interview. Cool personal experiences and accomplishments and information about non-controversial hobbies are probably fine. But no bodily functions, nothing overly personal about your relationships, nothing about breaking the law, and so on.

You can potentially get a little more personal if you’re talking about hardships or obstacles you’ve overcome, but be extremely careful with this and have multiple other people vet any sharing you do to make sure you aren’t trespassing any tacit social boundaries with your essays.

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The Bottom Line: How to Get Into Grad School

Here are four guiding principles to help you shape your overall application:

  • Understand expectations in your field
  • Craft an overall narrative with your application
  • Show your personality (professionally)
  • Demonstrate your interest

Here are grad school application tips for the specific pieces of your application:

  • Recommendations: Choose recommenders who know you well, ask for strong recommendations, and request recommendations well in advance.
  • Test scores: Set a score goal and take the test early.
  • Transcripts: Request necessary transcripts and request your transcripts in advance.
  • Resumes and CVs: Choose between a resume and a CV format, use impactful language, highlight relevant experiences, and be comprehensive!
  • Essays: Focus on your accomplishments, avoid generic statements and cliches, use specific examples, and tailor for each program.
  • Research statements: Address past, present, and future research; write for a nonspecialist audience.
  • Writing samples: Follow directions and make an appropriate selection.
  • Interviews: Be prepared and ask questions.
  • Other tips: Proofread your application, address weaknesses head-on, mention and reach out to faculty you’d like to work with, and don’t be afraid to call the admissions office and ask questions!

And finally, here are six major errors to avoid!

  • Missing deadlines
  • Incomplete applications
  • Weak/lukewarm recommendations
  • Unprofessional writing

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What’s Next?

Not sure if your GPA is good enough for graduate school ? Read our guide!

Don’t want to take the GRE for graduate school ? You might not have to!

Did you know you can take the GRE for business school ? Here’s how to choose between the GRE and the GMAT .

If you’re trying to improve your GRE scores , you’ll need to make a GRE study plan .

Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?

graduate application tips

Author: Ellen McCammon

Ellen is a public health graduate student and education expert. She has extensive experience mentoring students of all ages to reach their goals and in-depth knowledge on a variety of health topics. View all posts by Ellen McCammon

graduate application tips

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16 Tips to Make Your Graduate School Application Stand Out

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From being personal to making your writing really shine, here are 16 answers to the question, “Can you share the most effective tips to help your graduate school application stand out?”

Make a Personal Connection

Show how you’d contribute to diversity at the school, don’t overthink the gmat or gre, show your passion and interest in a chosen field, include a self-introduction video, do your homework, include all the details in your resume, tailor it to the specific program or school, write a strong personal statement, be precise about how you fit the program, recognize your weaknesses and strengths, be unique and original, show real-world experience, get strong recommendation letters, mention your career goals and make them count, practice outstanding writing.

When I was preparing my graduate school applications, one tip that helped my application stand out was looking for ways to make a personal connection. This meant doing research on the specific program I was applying to and reaching out to faculty, staff, and students with questions about the university’s strengths in order to showcase why I thought it would be the best fit for me. 

When I spoke directly with current students, it made me feel more confident navigating the prospects of attending that particular university as well as more connected because I could have conversations and get insider advice. Connecting with the school not only strengthened my application but also gave me a friendly face when I visited campus and helped motivate me through their individual stories.

graduate application tips

Antreas Koutis , Administrative Manager, Financer

Demonstrate how you would contribute to diversity at the institution to make your application stand out. By doing this, you’re showing that you know the importance of diversity and that you are committed to making the learning environment as inclusive as possible. 

You are also showing your willingness and eagerness to learn from the unique perspectives and experiences that your fellow students from different backgrounds will bring along with them. Moreover, you’ll be highlighting your ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, which is a critical skill in every profession.

Joe Flanagan, Founder, 90s Fashion World

graduate application tips

Although testing is a part of the application process, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You should take your overall profile into consideration, and if you have an impressive resume and relevant work experience, your scores may not matter as much. 

Focus on making sure that the other components of your application are strong and showing why you would be a great fit for the graduate program. Being able to show a clear passion for the subject or field you are applying for and showing how you plan to use your skills in that field to make an impact can go a long way. Showing who you are as a person and what makes you unique will help your application stand out from the crowd.

Michael Fischer, Founder, Elite HRT

graduate application tips

Highlight any relevant research or projects that you have undertaken. Admissions committees are often looking for applicants who have a strong background in the field they are applying to and have a clear passion for the subject. 

By highlighting any research or projects that you have undertaken, you can show your knowledge of the field and your interest in it. You can also include any publications, presentations, or awards that you have received for your research work, as these can also help to set your application apart from others. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your application is well-written, clear, and concise, and that you have proofread it multiple times to avoid errors.

Natalia Grajcar , Co-Founder, Natu.Care

graduate application tips

With literally everything around us going digital, it only makes sense that college and graduate schools would eventually catch on. While many of them offer applicants the option of adding a self-introduction video accompanying their admission letter, adding one regardless is a great way to stand out from the crowd. 

The most obvious reason why this works is that videos add a human touch and highlight your personality a lot better than walls of text. Of course, if you’re taking this route, make sure that you have great audio and video recording equipment to make a stellar impact.

graduate application tips

Harry Morton , Founder, Lower Street

A well-written statement of purpose will show the applicant’s familiarity with the institution, the desired major, and the faculty members with whom they would interact. Do you hope to collaborate with any particular teachers or researchers? 

Describe the ways in which your time spent learning from this person will benefit your professional development. Applicants who take the time to learn as much as they can about the graduate program they’re interested in (and the opportunities it offers) stand out in the eyes of faculty and admissions officers as people who are truly invested in the idea of joining that particular graduate program’s community.

graduate application tips

Edward Mellett , Co-Founder, Wikijob

Applying for admission into a graduate school is not like applying for a job, and that is why it is critical that you know the right format for your application resume in order to make it stand out. 

Many students follow the one-page guideline, in which they keep things brief and check all the necessary boxes, but a graduate school can get thousands of applications that look like this, making the ones that use this format appear mundane. 

Instead, an effective resume should include as much detail as possible, such as internships with included responsibilities, volunteer work, undergrad training, and every related project you have worked on. 

The idea is to show how much more qualified you are than others and not just to do enough to secure an interview. By focusing on details rather than providing short snippets, you can effectively make your graduate school application stand out.

David Derigiotis , CIO, Embroker

graduate application tips

Tailor your application to the specific program or school you are applying to. This means researching the program or school, and highlighting how your experiences, interests, and goals align with the program’s mission, values, and focus. This can show to the admissions committee that you are a good fit for the program and that you are genuinely interested in pursuing graduate study in that specific field or at that school. 

To do this, you can:

  •  Highlight any relevant coursework, research, or experience that you have that pertains

to the program. 

  • Research the faculty of the program and mention any specific professors or research groups you are interested in working with. 
  • Explain how your interests align with the specific focus or mission of the program. 
  • Show how the program will help you achieve your goals.

graduate application tips

Johannes Larsson , Founder & CEO, JohannesLarsson.com

According to Dr. Barry Farber, the main thing he considers when looking at an application is the candidate’s writing skills. Therefore, writing a strong personal statement is one of the best ways to make your grad school application stand out. 

You’ll communicate your value to the admission committee clearly and concisely. So start with an eye-catching introduction that will get the admission committee invested in your application. From here, use an easy-to-read writing voice that communicates your interests in a fun way. 

Scott Lieberman , Owner, Touchdown Money

graduate application tips

I consider it crucial to emphasize in your application materials why you’re a good fit for this program. Talk about how your experiences to date and future goals are ideally matched with the programs, courses, professors, and other offerings at this specific institution.

Put your strengths as a researcher, practitioner, or author of a thesis on the topic you hope to teach in the spotlight to show the reader what you can bring to the classroom. The admissions board will probably dismiss all of your applications in which you use the same personal statement and change only the school’s name.

Frederic Linfjärd , Director of Growth Marketing, Planday

graduate application tips

I consider it obvious that you should highlight your strengths in all parts of your application, but it might also be a good idea to talk about any problems you have. This is true if your transcript reveals deficiencies, such as a lower GPA or a lack of coursework in your intended field. 

If you can pinpoint valid justifications for these activities, they may become less of a burden for you. If you haven’t completed a course because you switched majors, for instance, you can highlight how you became interested in your new field and how willing you are to make up any gaps by working extra hours. 

An explanation like this could help deflect criticism of your weaknesses and boost your reputation because of your obvious resolve.

graduate application tips

Andrew Dale , Technical Director, CloudTech24

I remember how stressful it was to apply to graduate school. I wanted to know all the perfect answers to say and the perfect way to describe myself on paper as being a good fit. One of my best friends who was accepted to his graduate program one year ahead of me gave me a great tip early on and saved me a lot of anxiety. 

He simply said, “Be yourself, because there’s only one of you.” I work as a product strategist for the largest marketing company in Australia and that lesson is mirrored in what I do with content all day. 

No matter how much you dress something up in my world of SEO, my clients succeed more with unique and original content. Consumers are smarter these days and so are graduate admissions directors. They can smell fluff and fake from a mile away. Do some self-study before you apply and be honest with yourself about what makes you unique and what about that uniqueness makes you a good fit for your desired graduate program. That authenticity will carry you through!

graduate application tips

William Varney , Product Strategist, Megaphone Marketing

Volunteering, interning, or working as an undergraduate research assistant are all examples of extracurricular experiences that could benefit a graduate school application. It may be a visible manifestation of your commitment to your field of study and to your education, similar to taking up an intensive course load. 

Additionally, if you can narrow your focus within your discipline, you may feel more confident discussing your career aspirations with professors and providing more specific examples in your application essay. Perhaps the same about formal employment. Applying to graduate school after working full time for some time? Highlight your professional maturity in all of your materials.

graduate application tips

Timothy Allen , Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting

There are, of course, a lot of things that will determine if your application for college will be successful or not. However, one thing that can tip the balance in your favor is getting a strong recommendation letter. 

Better yet, make sure you get three or four letters to support your application. Also, don’t just get letters from anyone. Focus on people who are close enough to you to assess your character, but not too close that they appear biased. For example, don’t get a recommendation from a family member, even if they are in powerful positions in the community. Instead, focus on professional and academic relationships that you have built over the years.

graduate application tips

Logan Nguyen , Co-Founder, MIDSS

Colleges love alums who have made it in life and lend their institute a good name, so when they find students who aim to do the same in their lives, it is impressive. When you mention your career goals in your application, you reveal yourself as someone who has already laid out long-term plans, an approach that highlights consistency, planning, and determination. 

Your goals also present your intention to make the most of your college experience so that everything you learn here provides the fuel you need to drive a great career plan. The continued impact is one of the most prominent consequences of an excellent college education, and when you show your commitment to align your efforts to this outlook, your application will make it to the top of the pile.

graduate application tips

Brendan McGreevy , Head of Strategy, Affinda

A graduate program director receives hundreds of applications every semester. Most of those students applying are just as qualified and impressive as yourself, and sometimes, more so. So, how can you make your application stand out? Hands down, the best advice for making your application stand out is to really commit to refining your writing skills. 

An outstanding writer submitting a well-written application will beat out a more qualified, but poorly written or boring application almost every time. It’s not a skill that a program director looks for specifically, but they know when they are reading someone who is well written. It is such an advantage if you can write well because graduate school is about communication through the written presentation. 

Good writing is a soft skill that is worth investing time in. Not only will it help you get into grad school, but it will also help you beat out other applications in the workplace!

graduate application tips

Brian Clark , CEO & Marketing Director, United Medical Education

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Land your dream job, grad school application | tips for finishing strong.

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If you’re currently considering graduate school, you probably already know that the application process involves more than just taking tests, writing essays, and hitting “submit.” Everything from interacting with the admissions office to finishing up prerequisite courses will play a role in getting you from prospective student to accepted student.

Here are a few expert tips for ensuring your grad school application is a strong one.

Reach out to the graduate admissions office

The submission process is an excellent opportunity to ask questions and engage with the admissions staff. They can provide you with valuable information on requirements and best practices, and can help you determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for their particular program (and whether their program is right for you, too!).

Kathryn Meyer, Director of Recruitment at The Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University, encourages applicants to reach out to her team and other admissions offices. It is the goal of the admissions committee, she says, “to help each person put forth the best application possible.”

“Recruiters and admissions directors know the inner workings of their own system and programs,” she adds. “They work with applicants year in and year out. So who better to answer individual concerns, put them in touch with current students, or offer links to find specific information than the team here in our office?”

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you reach out to admissions staff: 

  • Introduce yourself. Make sure you give them your name and tell them what program you’re applying to, as well as what stage of the process you’re in. And always be professional and polite.
  • Send thank-you notes after more involved or particularly helpful phone calls, emails, or face-to-face interactions.
  • Be patient. Admissions offices interact with a lot of prospective students—especially as deadlines approach. Follow up politely if you haven’t heard back in a while, but make sure to provide ample time for them to respond to you first.
  • If you have the opportunity, visit the campus . Sitting down face-to-face with admissions representatives will allow you to get their undivided attention as well as more in-depth and personalized advice.

Understand the school’s admissions priorities

In reviewing your materials, admissions committees are assessing your candidacy for a program based on your interests, experience, and potential for success. They are also looking to see if you’d be a strong representative of their school in future internships, externships, and other positions.

With that in mind, be sure to review the school’s profile on Idealist and ask people in your network about what qualities or experience that particular admissions committee values most.

Also, make sure your personal statement communicates what you hope to gain from enrolling in that particular program. Highlight what you believe you can contribute to the school and use strategic storytelling to share any relevant experience to help boost your profile.

Learn about and complete your prerequisites

Certain grad programs have specific course or test requirements they expect you to fulfill before enrolling. For example, an MPA program might want incoming students to have a solid foundation in economics and statistics, and an international studies program may ask students to pass a foreign language exam.

Depending on the school, you may be admitted even if you haven’t completed the necessary classes beforehand—but only on the condition that you either take them before enrollment or during your first term.

To help you stay on top of any necessary coursework, be sure to pay attention to the following: 

  • The specific prerequisites for each program you're interested in. Remember that different schools have different requirements, even if the area of study is the same. Make sure you know what they are, and what it takes to meet them.
  • If you are required to take a class before you can enroll, find out if your graduate school has restrictions or guidelines regarding where and how you can complete those requirements. Make sure to confirm with admissions staff that the course credits from your institution of choice will be accepted. Also, find out if you need to earn a minimum grade in the class in order for it to count toward your prerequisites.
  • If you need to gain experience or a new skill that may be a bit more time intensive, talk with the admissions office about your options. Depending on their policies and the difficulties of the requirement, your best bet may be to wait another semester or year before applying .

Address any potential weaknesses in your application

If your undergraduate transcript is lackluster or outdated (older than ten years):

  • Demonstrate your academic commitment by taking individual university or college courses and earning good grades. Credit from these courses is unlikely to count toward your grad degree, but they can showcase your current academic ability and help you gain admission. Take upper and graduate-level classes if possible, and ensure the course content is relevant and applicable to your desired degree.
  • Share your goals and specific concerns with the admissions office. They may have suggestions for you based on your transcript, and recommendations for classes you can take to help bolster your application.

If you’re having trouble securing academic references:

  • Take individual college courses and ask those professors to write recommendation letters for you.
  • Remember that professional references can also make up the difference. As always, reach out to the graduate admissions office for guidance, and see if there's an opportunity to submit a professional reference in place of an academic one.

If your test scores are below the target average:

  • Determine just how much your target schools weigh or consider exam scores. Some have a more concrete number they’re looking for, while others are more flexible—or don’t require test scores at all.
  • Take practice exams or enroll in a preparation course prior to taking (or retaking) your entrance exam.

If there is a gap or shortcoming in your application that you’re particularly concerned about, consider writing a short addendum to your personal essay to address it. Be concise, be honest, and be solution-focused. The admissions committee is interested in learning about not only what happened, but about how you resolved (or are working to resolve) the situation. 

Gather and submit all requested materials on time

This may seem obvious, but keeping on top of all your applications can be a daunting task. Deadlines will vary for different schools, so it’s important to stay organized by giving yourself ample time to request documents from others, such as your undergraduate transcript or a letter of recommendation.

As you begin gathering materials, remember to read instructions carefully and follow them meticulously. Make checklists to ensure everything is accounted for, and always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to get it all done.

Did you find this post helpful? Be sure to check out Financial Aid for Graduate School | Your Guide to Finding Funding for more advice on preparing for grad school admission.

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INSIDE THE GRADUATE SCHOOL ADMISSIONS DEPARTMENT

Applying to graduate school is a lot of work, and often, prospective students don’t know where to start or what to showcase in their school applications. Discover what graduate admissions departments look for in candidates, learn how to craft a winning admission essay, and find resources and expert tips to help you navigate the admissions process.

  • Application Timeline
  • Craft A Winning Admissions Essay
  • Interview with Todd Hollingshead
  • Graduate School Versus Undergraduate Studies

APPLICATION TIMELINE

Applying to graduate school is nothing if not a complex process - organizational skills are must. Prospective students preparing to apply to schools should invest in a calendar to help keep them on track through the various steps in the process.

Review the following application timeline for an in-depth look at what the application process may detail.

The interest left standing is your area of concentration. With your program in mind and the research you’ve completed, make a list of potential schools.

Start researching your program at those institutions more in depth. Research online and request materials about your program of interest from those schools.

As you research keep costs in mind and potential financial aid sources, application requirements for each school and deadlines.

Carefully examine each of the program application. Write down any questions you have and make a list of required application materials: letters of recommendation, admissions essays, transcripts, standardized test scores, resume, and work or writing samples.

Visit potential schools and connect with current students in the program. Faculty members are busy, so simply send a quick email introducing yourself and your interest in the program.

Contact three qualified references including former professors, employers and friends to provide letters of recommendation regarding your character, work ethic and academic performance.

Gather letters of recommendation, fill out application forms and write statement of purpose/personal statement, and graduate admissions essays.

Make sure transcripts are up to date and request copies from the registrar’s office. Apply for fellowships, grants and scholarships to help offset the costs of school.

Take required tests this month such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT or GMAT.

Complete the application forms for each program, and meet with faculty to review your writing.

Submit applications and all required materials (including financial aid documents for each institution) at least two weeks before they’re due.

Create a contingency plan in case you’re not accepted by your top choice.

Follow up before the deadline to ensure everything is in order with your application.

Most schools send an email upon receipt of each application — keep track of these.

If you don't receive a postcard or email, contact the admissions office to ensure that your application has been received before the deadline.

Follow up regarding the status of your application before the notification deadline.

Write or revise any scholarly writing or research samples to accompany your applications if requested, and re-take standardized tests if required.

Complete and submit any applications for programs with rolling admissions or late deadlines.

You will begin to receive letters offering admission, offering you a place on a waiting list or kindly denying your admission.

It’s good practice to wait until you have heard from all programs before making your final decision about which institution to attend.

Make sure you have completed your FAFSA form if you’re applying for need-based financial assistance. Financial awards of a merit nature are generally included with your acceptance letter. The application for need-based aid may take longer to process.

Make last-minute visits to schools that have offered admission, either to see them for the first time or to re-visit those that are on your list.

If you do visit, plan ahead and make appointments with key individuals and prepare appropriate questions based on thoughtful homework.

Depending on your field, you may be invited to interview at some of your potential schools. Start planning for the admissions interviews, and prepare answers to common questions.

If an interview is optional, take it. You’ll gain more information about the program and to what extent it meets your needs.

Accept an offer. By doing so and paying a deposit, you are indicating that you have decided not to accept any other offers. To do otherwise in an effort to keep your options open is unethical. Also, many schools compare notes, and you may jeopardize your standing with both schools/programs.

Once your decision is made, notify all admissions offices where you applied of your decision.

Send thank-you notes to those who took the time to write your letters of recommendation and others who assisted you and inform them of your plans. It’s important to maintain lines of communication with contacts and references for the future.

The clearer and more concise applicants are able to articulate why they are interested in pursuing a specific degree and what they hope to do with it will help the committee have a clear picture of the applicants. Earlier conversations with the program to determine the mission and goals of the program and how the applicant may contribute in this context (which is where experience, desire, commitment come in to play) are advisable as well.

CRAFT A WINNING ADMISSIONS ESSAY

Your essay is just one of hundreds read by admissions officers every day. So make it stand out. Separate yourself from what is sure to be a highly qualified and competitive group of applicants. Take this singular opportunity to introduce the committee to the person behind the letters of recommendation, application and transcripts. Tell admissions something they don’t know about you. Get personal.

Use your own — albeit professional — voice, avoiding long words and jargon to weave bits and pieces of your personal history throughout your essay. Use concise, select experiences to answer the when’s, how’s and why’s of your academic and professional goals and to highlight an achievement or work opportunity.

Your essay is pivotal. Engaging and well-written, it has the power to trump low test scores or a weak GPA. So give yourself several weeks to write your essay. Getting started is generally the most difficult part, and you may find that you start over several times. It’s to be expected. But by giving yourself ample time, you can write, ruminate, review and make edits. You have time for others to review your essay(s) and provide valuable feedback.

If you’re applying to more than one school, don’t submit a blanket essay to each institution — giving yourself several weeks allows you the time to appropriate your essay to fit each program. And simply crafting your essays simultaneously preps you for potential interviews.

Decide what you want to communicate. Everything you include in your essay should point to that message. Here are a few tips and a simple outline to send you in the right direction.

There are a couple of ways to introduce yourself, and beginning the paragraph with “Hello. My name … ” is not one of them. Try a more creative and personal approach. Write a short two- or three-sentence anecdote that captures your personality and succinctly describes your initial curiosity in your choice of field. You might start with a quote or question significant to the program, course of study and your interest.

"It was a Wednesday when my seventh grade English teacher handed me a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” and told me to read it. I poured through the book, and Monday morning found myself..."

  • Why/how did your interest in the field continue?
  • Are there any personal experiences that influenced your academic/career goals?
  • What continues to motivate you in your pursuits?

"I found myself drawn to male writers — an inclination I credit to the absence of a father in my life. I searched for him..."

  • What is special about you? What character traits do you possess worth mentioning? Be selective and show, don’t tell.
  • Have you overcome any personal hardships to get where you are?
  • Highlight applicable work experience, research and/or undergraduate accomplishments, and make it personal. Don’t regurgitate your application or resume.

"I’m resilient and determined. I was raised by a single mother of five children who encouraged my academic pursuits, but had little to no money to contribute to my education. Undeterred, I did it myself by..."

  • Researching the mission and direction of the program can help you appropriate your goals in your essay.
  • What do you hope to learn through your contribution to the program?
  • What is the significance of the program in terms of your academic and career goals?

"I would be hard-pressed to choose between male writers of the early 20th and late 20th century. The opportunity to study both generations of writers within the context of their political, social and personal environments would..."

  • What do you want to get out of the program?
  • Explain what you hope to accomplish with your degree.
  • How will it put you on the career path of your choice?

"Broadening my perspective of the male voice in literature during the last century will allow me to..."

Tie it back in to your introduction.

"Yes. The search for my father continues. But through literature"

Use proper grammar, syntax and spelling. Review your essays, and have a colleague review them as well.

If exact length is not specified, limit the essay to two pages.

  • Avoid controversial topics and make sure you respond to any questions that are required.

Don’t oversell yourself, and don’t try and guess what the committee wants to hear.

Avoid mention of pre-college accomplishments unless they directly relate to your field.

Your weaknesses — low GPA, low test scores, lack of work experience — don’t belong in your essay.

TODD HOLLINGSHEAD, BYU: INSIDE A GRADUATE SCHOOL ADMISSIONS DEPARTMENT

It varies by graduate program and discipline. Each graduate program has an admissions committee that will review applications using their own established criteria to review and compare applicants for admission. Applicants would do well to communicate with the intended program of admission to try to determine for themselves what the admissions committee is looking for in an ideal applicant.

Alternatively, they could also speak to a current graduate student in that program to gain insights from them. I do think it’s fair to say that all graduate programs are looking to create a cohort of students who have the capacity to enhance the conversation in the classroom and make a significant difference in their field of study. Of course, research-based programs also look for an aligned research interest with faculty in that particular program.

Qualifications will differ among institutions. So check with specific programs to know what is required. In general terms, applicants for BYU and other grad programs must have the following:

  • Evidence of a 4-year U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • English proficiency (for International and LPR applicants who are non-native English speakers)

Keep in mind these are minimum requirements. At any institution you’ll want to study the specific qualifications for the program to which you’re applying. Keep in mind, however, that while GPA and test scores are important for graduate admissions, there are other qualifying factors to consider. For certain programs fieldwork, work experience and research, for example, may carry more significance than grades and test scores alone.

Like many schools, applications for graduate school at BYU are available and submitted online. There are, however, institutions that still accept paper applications. Inquire with the programs to which you’re applying their process for submitting application materials.

At BYU, International transcripts and degree certificates are mailed to a third party credential evaluation service provider. This varies among institutions, however, and students should inquire with their prospective programs. Required test scores through ETS or TOEFL or IELTS can all be sent electronically to a majority of institutions, including BYU, at the request of the applicant. For professional programs — think MBA — an admissions committee will weigh work experience and goals differently than a research-based program. There are a number of programs that also request an interview during the process, though not all programs require this application component.

As mentioned previously, we suggest applicants visit with current students in their program of interest and with graduate coordinators so they understand what the department is looking for and how they can best showcase that in their application materials. For example, if you’re applying for a research-based program, aligning yourself with a faculty member who is doing research that interests you is always beneficial, as they can advocate for your admission. In addition, applicants should submit their materials as soon as possible to allow for full consideration.

Yes. That said, we encourage prospective students to do as much of their own due diligence before contacting the admissions office.

  • Generally, don’t have your parents submit your application for you.
  • Don’t be rude or demeaning in your communication with the admissions staff regarding your application.
  • Don’t procrastinate submitting your application.
  • Don’t just assume that your recommenders will write a favorable letter.
  • Don’t give up if you are not recommended for admission.
  • Be proactive in the process and know what your responsibilities are.
  • Communicate with the graduate program that you intend to apply to and make yourself known to key people by asking questions.
  • Be positive.

This is subjective and varies by graduate program — each admissions committee will review the statement of intent or admissions essay using its own established criteria or rubric to review and compare applicants.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: GRADUATE SCHOOL VERSUS UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES

While we consider criteria such as GPA and test scores, most programs look for experience in the core competencies needed to be successful in a graduate program. Related experience, fieldwork, research and industry also help frame an applicant’s ability to enhance and contribute to the conversation. In other words, there is a lot of information that can be considered if you are applying to graduate study rather than just your GPA, ACT score and perhaps extra-curricular activities. Additionally, specific experience can trump what might be considered a low GPA or test score in a graduate program context.

While some similarities exist between undergraduate and graduate programs, there are some key differences between the two. Easily compare how graduate school differs from an undergraduate program to better prepare for graduate school applications.

When applying to graduate school, remember required documentation may differ slightly among programs. If you’re applying to several institutions, ensure you’re submitting the right information tailored specifically to that school. For most schools, the following materials are all submitted electronically with the online application:

  • Application
  • Work or writing samples
  • Transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Admissions essays
  • Standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation

GRADUATE SCHOOL ADMISSION PROCESS: ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Applying to graduate school can be time consuming, confusing and often, overwhelming. To help ease the process, we have compiled a variety of writing, time management and application essay resources below.

From writing tips to strategies for crafting a standout application essay, Harvard’s writing center has a wide variety of resources to help students improve their writing capabilities.

Review a step-by-step process for applying to graduate school including researching programs, what to include in your application and requesting letters of recommendation.

Learn how to improve time management skills which can prove helpful during the graduate school application process to working through a graduate degree program.

Find tips and tools for time management, scheduling, goals, and self-motivation.

Discover what a strong letter of recommendation should include, who to ask and how to submit them with your graduate school applications.

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Applying to graduate school

How to Apply For Graduate School | A Step-by-Step Guide

Applying to graduate school may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be!  The whole process can be broken down into 7 key steps:

  • Choose which programs you want to apply for.
  • Plan out the timeline for your application .
  • Request transcripts and recommendation letters .
  • Take any standardized tests that the program requires.
  • Write your resume or CV .
  • Write your statement of purpose and/or personal statement .
  • Prepare for interviews , if relevant.

Specific graduate school application requirements may vary between type of program and school, so be sure to check carefully on each school’s website. However, the main steps are usually the same.

Table of contents

Choosing programs to apply to, planning your application timeline, requesting transcripts and recommendation letters, taking standardized tests, writing your resume, writing a statement of purpose, writing a personal statement, preparing for interviews, frequently asked questions about grad school applications.

Choosing a program is the first step of the process. Start by talking to alumni and current students of the programs you’re interested in, as well as individuals in the career field that you’re hoping to pursue afterwards. Ask them questions like the following:

  • Do I need a graduate degree at all? It might be possible to pursue this field using the experience and education that you already have.
  • How important is school prestige in this field? In fields like law, prestige is extremely important, whereas it matters very little in many medical careers, like nursing or physical therapy.
  • Do the faculty and staff of this institution make adequate time for their students? Especially in research, the quality of supervision and teaching determines how much you get out of a program.
  • Do I have a realistic shot of getting into this program? Aim high, but don’t waste application fees on schools out of reach, and make sure you have a few backup programs you’re pretty sure you can get into.
  • How much will the program cost? Many graduate programs offer some sort of financial aid, but others expect most students to front the whole cost through loans and other forms of financing.
  • What is the job market like for alumni of this program? Many programs list the career outcomes of their graduates on their websites. If one doesn’t, you should feel free to contact an administrator of the program and ask for it.

Master’s vs. PhD

One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make is whether to apply to a master’s or a PhD program . Master’s degrees, which take 1–2 years to complete, usually develop skills for a particular career, whereas PhDs, which can range from 4–7 years, are meant to prepare for an academic or research career.

Master’s programs focus mainly on coursework, although they usually also include a semester-long thesis or capstone. In the US, most PhDs include the coursework required for a master’s in the first two years of the program. Afterwards, you’ll spend most of your time preparing a dissertation, a long piece of original research.

Both master’s and PhD programs provide a wage premium (the extra amount that you’ll make over someone with just a high school diploma) of 23 and 26%, respectively. Master’s programs sometimes provide scholarships, but this is rare. PhD programs, on the other hand, often waive tuition fees and provide a living stipend in exchange for being a teaching or research assistant.

Though the master’s degree premium is lower and the upfront cost is usually higher, master’s programs allow you to enter the workforce—and earn the higher wage—much faster than PhDs.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

The most important tip for applying to graduate school is to start early! No matter which type of program you’re applying to, you should start considering your plans around 18 months before beginning your program.

Most programs have strict deadlines—usually 6–9 months before the start date. Others have what are called “rolling” deadlines, meaning that the earlier you send in an application, the earlier you get a decision. Either way, you should usually aim to get in all your applications before the new year for a start date the following September or October.

Make sure to carefully plan out your timeline for applying . Each step will take longer than you think it will, so leave plenty of extra time! Below is a table giving an idea of how much time you’ll need for the essential application tasks.

As well as transcripts of your grades, most graduate school applications also require you to provide 2–3 letters of recommendation from former professors or supervisors.

Transcripts

You’ll normally need to provide transcripts from every postsecondary institution that you attended, even if you weren’t a full-time student there. This includes time spent studying abroad or classes taken at universities while still a high school student.

Make sure to check the language requirements of the transcripts. If yours aren’t in English and you’re applying to a US or UK university, you’ll most likely have to get them translated by a professional translator. You can usually find services online where you upload your transcript and receive a translated and certified copy within a few days.

Recommendation letters

The letters of recommendation are one of the most important parts of an application. You should think carefully about who to ask and how to do it. These steps can aid you in finding the best letters possible for your application:

  • Decide who to ask. This should ideally be a former professor that you knew well outside of the classroom, but can be a manager or research supervisor who can speak to your ability to succeed in graduate school.
  • Request a meeting. It’s best to discuss the recommendation letter in person if possible. If you know your recommender well, you can skip this step and go straight to:
  • Ask for a recommendation. It’s a good idea to ask if they can provide a “strong” letter of recommendation, which allows them an easy out if not!
  • Share your resume and statement of purpose draft. These can help your recommender write a strong letter that fits with your application’s overall story.
  • Remind your recommenders of upcoming deadlines . If it’s within a few weeks of the deadline and you haven’t heard back yet, send a polite reminder.

Most American graduate programs require that you take a standardized exam, while most non-American programs do not, although requirements have shifted greatly in recent years.

You will most likely be asked to submit a resume or CV . Make sure to pay attention to the length limits. If none are given, try to keep it to one page if possible or two pages if necessary.

You don’t need to include every activity you’ve participated in, but make sure to include those relevant to the type of program you’re applying for.

You could include things like:

  • Publications
  • Awards and honors
  • Skills (such as computer programming or language skills)
  • Professional experience
  • Volunteering experience

If you’re applying to a professional program, such as business school, you should focus more on your professional accomplishments. For other programs, you’ll want to concentrate on your academic and research accomplishments.

You can download our resume templates as Word documents and adapt them for your own use.

Resume template 1 Resume Template 2

Your statement of purpose is a short essay that should tie together the rest of your application. Aim to give the admissions committee a clear idea of why you’ll be a good fit for the program and your motivations for applying.

Make sure to carefully read the instructions for your statement of purpose. Some programs provide prompts that you have to respond to in your essay. If you’re applying to multiple programs, tailor your statement to each one.

A strong statement of purpose should include:

  • A introduction to your academic and personal background
  • Your experience and accomplishments
  • Your motivations for applying to this particular program
  • Your academic goals for the program, including specific topics you’d like to explore
  • Your career objectives for after the end of the program

The statement of purpose should not just be your resume in paragraph form. Add value by describing how you personally contributed to any projects or learned from classes that might be listed on your resume.

Finally, make sure your statement reads well and is free of language errors. Have a friend look it over, and don’t be afraid to use a professional proofreader if you’d like another set of eyes.

Some graduate school applications also require you to submit a personal statement .

A personal statement can usually be a bit less formal that a statement of purpose, giving more space to your personal background. It should craft a narrative of who you are and how your life has led you to apply to graduate school.

Here are some tips for writing a strong personal statement:

  • Start with an attention-grabbing opening.
  • Describe your personal and academic development over time.
  • If you’ve faced obstacles in your academic path, describe how you’ve overcome them.
  • Discuss why you’re interested in this field, connecting it to your past experiences.
  • Look forward by describing your career ambitions and how this program will help you achieve them.

The graduate school interview is the last step of the process. Not all schools conduct interviews, but if yours does, make sure you’re prepared:

  • Read the website of the program you’re applying for.
  • Talk to previous students about their experience interviewing.
  • Prepare answers to commonly asked questions.
  • Read papers in the field of study that you’re interested in.

Many interviews ask the same questions, so you should have a clear idea of how you’ll answer these. The most common questions include:

  • What would you bring to this program and why should we admit you?
  • Tell us about the research you’ve completed or contributed to.
  • What interests you about this program?
  • Who would you like to work with in this program?
  • What are you planning on doing after you complete this program?

You should also come with a few questions prepared for your interviewers. You may want to ask about funding opportunities, access to advisors, other access to resources, and job outcomes after graduation.

In the US, most graduate school applications require you to include:

  • Transcripts from previous educational institutions
  • Standardized test scores (such as the GRE or MCAT)
  • A graduate resume
  • 2–3 letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose

Some programs may ask you to write a personal statement in addition to, or instead of, a statement of purpose. You may also be asked to an interview .

Always carefully read the application instructions for the specific program you’re applying to.

A good starting point to aim for is about 18 months before you would start the program, or 6–9 months before the applications are due.

In the first few months of the process, research programs and study for any standardized exams you might need.

You can then begin writing your personal statements and statements of purpose , as well as contacting people to write your letters of recommendation . Ensure that you give recommenders plenty of time to complete their letters (ideally around 2–4 months).

A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.

A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.

However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.

This depends on the country. In the United States, you can generally go directly to a PhD  with only a bachelor’s degree, as a master’s program is included as part of the doctoral program.

Elsewhere, you generally need to graduate from a research-intensive master’s degree before continuing to the PhD.

Most medical school programs interview candidates, as do many (though not all) leading law and business schools.

In research programs, it depends—PhDs in business usually do, while those in economics normally do not, for example.

Some schools interview everyone, while others only interview their top candidates. Look at the websites of the schools you’re applying to for more information on whether they conduct interviews.

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Northeastern University Graduate Programs

5 Expert Tips for Writing a Stand-Out Grad School Resumé

5 Expert Tips for Writing a Stand-Out Grad School Resumé

Congratulations! You’re investing in your future by applying to graduate school. The application is complete, you’ve gathered your recommendations, written your statement of purpose , and you’re working on developing another important component—your resumé.

Your grad school resumé is an integral piece of the admissions process, says Jared Pierce, former associate director of enrollment quality assurance at Northeastern University. Admissions counselors rely on resumés as an assessment of the student, his or her strengths, work experience, skills, education, and interests, he says, to help them decide whether a prospective student is a good fit for the program.

Your grad school resumé is similar in many ways to a resumé you’d submit as part of a job application: You should use crisp language to describe your experiences, a clean and organized layout to make it easy to read, and it should be free from typos and grammar errors. But they’re different, too: Grad school resumés should emphasize your education, work and volunteer experience, and specific skills relevant to the particular program you’re applying to.

“We’re interested in a student’s background and how it’s relevant to the program he or she wants to enroll in,” Pierce says. “If they’re enrolling in a communications program, for example, we’re interested to see whether they’re coming from a social media background or a marketing background, and how that experience applies to what they’re looking for in grad school.”

Attention to detail is paramount when creating your resumé for grad school. Here’s a look at what should be included on your resumé, plus five tips to help you craft one that’s memorable and impactful.

What to Include in a Resumé for Graduate School

In general, your grad school resumé will be similar to a resumé you’d create when applying for a job. Keep in mind, however, that this document should be tailored to your desired program of study in order to show the admissions team that you’re a good fit.

Your graduate school resumé should include:

  • A header, including basic information like your name and email address
  • Your education history , including your undergraduate degree and institution
  • Relevant experiences, such as current or previous professional roles, internships, and leadership experience
  • Research and publications, including any research projects, articles, or other publications you’ve contributed to through your academic or professional career
  • Skills and certifications, especially those closely related to your field of study
  • Volunteering and extracurricular activities, if applicable to your program of interest

If you’re unsure whether a particular experience or skill should be included on your resumé, ask yourself how it relates to the program or institution that you’re applying to. If it doesn’t speak directly to your interests and strengths, it’s likely unnecessary to include.

Writing Your Grad School Resumé: 5 Tips for Success

1. tailor your resumé to the program..

When graduate schools review your resumé, they’re weighing the relevancy of your previous experience and education with the program you’re applying to. In other words, they want to see a correlation between what you’ve done and where you’re going.

Pierce recommends reviewing the homepage of the program you’re interested in before writing your resumé. Some programs require two or three years of work experience or a portfolio, so make sure you qualify for the program you’re applying to.

If you’re interested in the Master of Science in Cybersecurity program, for example, review the program’s webpage and make note of its requirements, objectives, core requirements, and any relevant keywords it uses. Then, make sure you check those boxes as you write your resumé.

2. Highlight all relevant experience.

While some prospective students apply to grad school from the field, others apply to programs upon completion of their undergraduate degree. For this reason, not all students will have professional experience to list on their resumé—and that’s ok, Pierce says.

“It’s a misnomer that if you don’t have professional experience, you can’t write a resumé,” he says. “There are other types of experience that are just as important and useful, so make sure you highlight everything that is relevant.”

Other than professional experience, admissions committees are interested in volunteer work and internships you’ve completed. This experience is just as relevant. For all experience—professional or otherwise—it’s important to showcase the duties you performed in those roles, and both the hard and soft skills you learned. This might include leading teams or projects, honing communication skills, or specific software or programs you learned and became proficient in.

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3. Showcase your skills.

Your resumé should include a skills section that highlights technologies, skills, and other competencies relevant to the graduate program you’re applying to, Pierce says.

If you’re applying to the Master of Science in Computer Science program, for example, your resumé should list the programming languages you know (e.g. Python, C++, Ruby on Rails), computer applications you’ve used, and software or systems that you’re experienced in.

4. Include professional achievements.

In addition to your experience and skills, admissions committees are interested in the professional certifications you earned, professional training you’ve completed, professional organizations of which you’re a member, and any instances in which you’ve been published.

Prospective students interested in the Master of Science in Project Management program, for example, should list any PMP certifications they’ve earned, while students interested in a Master of Science in Human Resource Management should note their membership to the Society for Human Resource Management, Pierce says. These achievements and memberships add another dimension to your resumé, showcasing your efforts outside your job, volunteer work, or internships to further your career and improve your experience.

5. Keep it clean.

Your grad school resumé should be succinct, only rarely exceeding one page, Pierce recommends. It should go without saying, too, that your resumé should be clean, well-formatted, easy-to-read, and free of typos or grammatical errors.

“We’re looking for a well-organized resumé that shows that care has been taken in creating it,” Pierce says. “Don’t just list out your experience in bullet points; tell us what duties you performed and how it correlates to the program you’re applying to. Your resumé is a reflection of you—we want to see that it’s polished and detailed, and understand what your background is like and what your experiences have been.”

Grad School Resumé Support

Applying to graduate school can be both exciting and stressful. Luckily, admissions teams and enrollment coaches are available to help you along the way and make the process as smooth as possible. If you have questions as you’re preparing your application and related materials, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. At the end of the day, admissions teams want to ensure that you’re a good fit for their program, and in effect, that their program is a good fit for you. 

At Northeastern, there are various resources and experts you can leverage for support throughout the application process. Don’t hesitate to contact faculty members in your program of interest with specific questions about the degree program. With more general questions about the application process, paying for your degree , or the institution as a whole, speak with an enrollment coach for help along the way.

For more information on applying to Northeastern’s graduate programs, visit our attend an application and enrollment session to get your questions answered. 

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Did you know.

Advanced degree holders earn a salary an average 25% higher than bachelor's degree holders. (Economic Policy Institute, 2021)

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Five Tips to Perfect Your Graduate School Application

If you’ve decided to apply for a graduate program, prepare yourself and ensure your application stands out with these five tips.

1. Ace your personal statement.

Frame your journey and share your vision of where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Don’t reuse personal statements; tailor each one to the program you’re applying for.

2. Choose references who know you best.

It’s more valuable to share a recommendation from someone with a modest title who knows your skills than someone with a grander title who can’t speak about your unique value.

3. Show your engagement with the subject matter.

While schools often seek a balance between academic performance and professional experience, the overall objective of an application is for you to demonstrate your passion for the subject matter. Think beyond paid work and include relevant internships, professional association memberships, and volunteer work.

4. Don’t overvalue the GRE or GMAT.

Although some programs look for students who perform well academically, they do not judge one’s accomplishments solely through standardized testing scores. Your personal statement, work experience, résumé, and recommendations often carry more weight.

5. Make a personal connection.

Consider reaching out to a faculty member to get information on the courses they teach while demonstrating your passion for the program.

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Applying for graduate schemes: tips from the experts

Always be yourself at assessment centres.

Victoria Matthews, careers adviser with the National Careers Service : People can often feel quite intimidated by assessment centres and in particular feel that they have to vie for the attention of the assessors. Bear in mind that assessors will be looking for a range of different competencies, so it's not about who talks loudest.

James Crichon, business development manager at talent management and assessment specialists, a&dc : Although assessment centres can feel intimidating keep in mind that they aren't trying to trip you up. Assessment centres are designed to let you demonstrate the competencies and motivation that the company wants. Make sure you show why you want to work for that organisation specifically – avoid generic or industry-wide answers.

Helen Stringer, careers services manager at the University of Warwick : Make sure you contribute, but don't dominate any group discussion or presentations. And don't let other candidates out-psych you or draw you into silly mind games – focus on your own performance.

How can I stand out as an international applicant?

Dan Hawes, co-founder and head of marketing at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau : Make sure your job applications are relevant. To have a much stronger chance of getting noticed, research the employer and know the job inside out.

Victoria Matthews: In an ideal world being able to demonstrate that you're a fully-rounded candidate, through work experience and extra-curricular activities, is helpful. If these things are lacking, however, tailoring each individual application to the employer in question is advisable.

You're never too old to apply

Katie Purser, recruitment director for Frontline : Graduate schemes often have a blend of different graduates of different ages. It can be hard to start at the bottom when you have other life experiences, but if you are prepared to work hard and get on with it, you'll move through the scheme quickly.

Mildred Talabi is the founder of CV Makeover Expert.com : You can use your age as a unique selling point to help you stand out. If you decide to do this, be very direct and open about this on your cover letter. If not, you can look for alternative routes to graduate schemes, by working for an SME, for example.

There are plenty of opportunities if you graduated with a 2:2

Helen Stringer: There are still grad recruiters who accept candidates with a 2:2 – the Fast Stream is a good example. Your time may be well spent developing your work experience portfolio, rather than attempting a masters, unless you want to change career direction and need to consolidate your knowledge of a new field.

It's always worth checking what the long-term career prospects are

Kate Purser: Most companies have graduate schemes to develop a strong future workforce; they keep their graduates on, and move them into a specific department or role where they have shown strong potential. There are some schemes which don't do this so it's worth checking what the longer-term career prospects are.

Rob Taffinder, senior resourcing manager at Nationwide Building Society : The vast majority of our graduates go on to take up permanent roles. But be under no illusion – graduates must consistently demonstrate that they have the right attitude and aptitude.

Mildred Talabi: If you really really impress while on your scheme, most employers will find a way to hire you – if not straight away, then at a later date when they have a suitable vacancy and/or the budget for new staff.

Stand out from the crowd

Helen Stringer: Too often applications read like a shopping list, and it's left to the employer to infer how/where this candidate might fit in their organisation. They simply haven't got time to do this so it's important to try and do it for them.

Grad schemes are not the be all and end all

Mildred Talabi: Grad schemes are absolutely brilliant if you can get them, but there are alternative ways to starting your career with many of the same perks.

Helen Stringer: I think there is often a perception that a grad scheme gives you status. In many ways it's also the path of least resistance. But they only represent a percentage of opportunities, not the totality.

Rob Taffinder: If you are a passionate graduate looking to specialise in a specific area then most graduate schemes will not be appropriate for you. You'd be better offer contacting a range of employers whose brand/business activities are relevant to you and talk to them about opportunities for graduates. The salaries might be lower initially with less structured training, but you will stand a better opportunity in my experience of progressing quicker outside of a specific scheme.

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Advocacy in Action

Through the stories we share, the Admissions Team at Baylor University hopes to inspire and educate future leaders in social work.

7 Tips for Your Best Graduate School Application

If you are looking to advance your career, then pursuing a graduate degree seems like the logical next best step. After all, a master’s degree can help you stand out from other job candidates, equip you with valuable skills, and set you up for greater career success. In particular, individuals interested in a career in social work can benefit from the hands-on experience and dedicated support a high-quality MSW program offers.

The Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Social Work

Social work professionals help to bring about healing, justice, protection, and empowerment and to equip their clients with the tools they need to advocate for themselves. They strive on a daily basis to establish trusting relationships with individuals and groups in order to make a difference in their lives. To be a successful social worker, it's important to develop the critical skills and knowledge needed to establish relationships, build trust, and provide help to those who are vulnerable. 

Earning a master’s in social work can set you up for a lifelong career that focuses on positively impacting the lives of people in your community. A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree provides the education, training, and field experience necessary to hold clinical or supervisory roles, allowing graduates to work across a number of different fields including the medical, mental health, and education fields. It also enables individuals to work at the macro level, engaging in policy work within government and nonprofit agencies.

Thinking about earning an MSW and need more information? Check out our virtual  events!

To get started, or to advance, in this rewarding and fulfilling field — your journey begins with an application.

How to submit your best graduate school application

When it comes to applying to graduate school the process might seem intimidating at first, but keeping a few important things in mind can help alleviate many concerns. By accurately representing your unique qualifications and showcasing what you have to offer the field, you can set yourself apart as a competitive candidate for acceptance. 

Here are the top seven tips to help you build your best graduate school application:

1. Know your graduate school goals and why you’re applying

Spend some time considering what your goals are and why you’re applying to grad school. Where do you hope this program will take you? What do you hope to gain from the experience? When you have a clear understanding of the reason behind this journey, you’ll be able to articulate it better so others can understand it as well. 

2. Know the program's mission

Being familiar with the program, its mission, and its outcomes can help you as you craft your application. Knowing the mission of a program and highlighting how you identify with that mission can help those reviewing your application understand what you would bring into the program.

Pro tip: Baylor University’s MSWS program offers two specializations : Clinical Practice and Community Practice. Be sure to review the program options to see if they may align with your future goals! 

3. Review, revise, and review again

When it comes to putting your best foot forward, grammar, punctuation, and editing matter. Your graduate school application should be free from any typos or errors that might distract readers or leave the wrong kind of first impression. 

4. Enlist the help of others

Having a support system throughout graduate school will be an important part of your journey. Start building your support system today by securing letters of recommendation from trusted references who can speak on your preparedness for graduate school . Have a friend or mentor review your application materials to check for errors or inconsistencies, and to offer you feedback on how you can be more clear and convincing.

5. Answer the question

It can be tempting to elaborate and be extra thorough when completing your application but, as a graduate student, you will need to learn how to write concisely. Use your application as a chance to highlight this skill by clearly answering the question asked of you and avoid rambling.

6. Make it personal

Don’t be afraid to share a personal story or a meaningful experience that drew you to graduate school and highlights your interest in social work. Showcase what makes you an ideal candidate for the program and the value you will add to the field.

7. Apply early

Waiting until a few days before a deadline may lead to technical issues or delayed processing. Applying early can ease any last-minute stress and sets you apart from the applications that pour in just before the deadline. Another benefit of applying early is ensuring that you will receive the most competitive financial aid award.

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Join the community of social workers at Baylor University — begin your application today!

To help you better understand the application process, we’ve put together a one-stop-shop guide that covers the entire MSW application from start to finish. If you are looking for tips, advice, and instruction on how to submit your most convincing application for graduate school, we invite you to download this free resource: How to Apply 101: A Comprehensive Application Guide to Baylor’s MSW Program.

In the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, we want to help you achieve your goals of serving others through trust and support. The Master of Social Work program prepares professional social workers who can assess and build on strengths of persons, families, and communities so that they can serve as social work clinicians and counselors, program planners, administrators, and community developers within diverse public and private sectors.

Social work is anything but a one-size-fits-all profession. With your MSW, the possibilities are endless! If you’re ready to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around you, we invite you to begin your application today .

To help make the application process as simple and easy as possible, we're offering a downloadable resource, How to Apply 101: A Comprehensive Application Guide to Baylor’s MSW Program! 

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We are the admissions team at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, at Baylor University. We believe social work is about service and justice; it is about the dignity of individuals and the power of relationships; it is about integrity and competence, and our mission here is preparing social workers to do these things well. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a degree in social work!

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graduate application tips

University of Bridgeport News

tips for applying to graduate school

Graduate School Admissions: Six Tips for a Successful Application

Deciding to pursue graduate study and graduate school is equally exciting and challenging. Students often take the next step in their educational and professional journeys with an intensive, career-focused degree program.

Graduate school offers students the opportunity to pursue specializations, advance their careers, and build a professional network, making it a significant personal and professional investment.

Yet, it is also not without its challenges, starting with the task of putting together a successful graduate school application and applying to graduate school.

This article will discuss the graduate school admissions process and share several tips to ensure students have a successful graduate school application and are accepted into the school and degree program of their choice.

What is Graduate School?

Whereas undergraduate degrees allow students to qualify for entry-level jobs, graduate degrees prepare students for career advancement and increase their marketability when applying for higher and senior-level positions.

As such, graduate school programs offer more focused and comprehensive classes with far more readings and research. They are also more niche in topics as graduate school prepares students to be experts in their chosen field of study and graduate with a fully enhanced and developed skill set and knowledge base.

While students may take fewer classes and sit for fewer exams in those classes than in an undergraduate degree program, graduate classes and exams require students to demonstrate an in-depth and far-reaching understanding of the material.

Graduate School Admission Requirements

While both undergraduate and graduate schools have admission requirements, the similarities often end there, and students should research to understand what their desired graduate school and degree program require.

Generally speaking, graduate admission requirements are much more involved, as students will be asked to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and resumes.

Students will also likely be asked to complete an interview process or fulfill program-specific requirements, such as applying directly to their specific program of interest or taking prerequisite courses.

Interested in going to graduate school at University of Bridgeport? Check out our Graduate Student Hub for more information on our programs, admissions requirements, and more!

Six graduate school application tips.

Applying to graduate school can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider implementing these graduate school application tips and strategies to smooth out the process.

Tip #1: Ace the Personal Statement

Graduate schools usually require an applicant’s personal statement or essay so the school and professors can get to know a student, their career goals, and why they want to attend graduate school.

Similarly, this is your opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants by showing them that you’ve researched and know why and how their graduate school can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Research the school’s and program’s mission statement and the backgrounds and achievements of the faculty. Be sure to share why you are choosing to attend graduate school at this point in your life.

Tip #2: Choose References Who Know You Best

References can be an amazing advocate for students and their graduate school applications. These need to be the people who know you and your skills and can express your unique value and contributions to the graduate school admissions committee.

Make sure your references have information about the program and know the contents of your personal statement, as they need to be able to support and endorse those materials as well.

Tip #3: Show Your Engagement with the Subject Matter

If you are applying to graduate school, chances are you are incredibly passionate about your chosen program and field of study.

This can look like being self-assured and confident in your work thus far and expressing how you want to utilize the degree to further enhance and expand your skill set and career. Allow your diverse resume or portfolio to showcase your work to the admissions office.

Tip #4: Don’t Overvalue the GRE or GMAT

While many graduate schools and programs still require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores, others are placing less emphasis on them or forgoing this requirement altogether.

Performing well academically is, of course, still important, and students should work hard in their undergraduate degree and graduate school entrance exams. But, graduate schools tend to look at the whole picture of a student during the admissions process.

If you must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), give yourself plenty of time to study and retake the test if needed, but know that all of your admission materials will be assessed and evaluated.

Tip #5: Make a Personal Connection

When selecting and applying to a graduate school and graduate program, it’s essential to research not only the program but also the faculty and staff teaching you.

You plan to spend the next one to three years learning from and being guided by the people in your program. They will, in turn, along with your peers, be the foundation of your professional community and network after graduation.

You may take this personal connection a step further and email someone on the faculty to get information about them, the courses they teach, and why they are passionate about their program and profession. This connection can go a long way in determining a student’s graduate school acceptance.

Tip #6: Showcase Your Success

Graduate school applications are not the time to downplay your personal and professional accomplishments. However, avoid misrepresentations, grandiose statements, and negative or judgemental statements.

Graduate programs are looking for accomplished students eager to learn and expand their knowledge and skills, so don’t be shy about showing what you have done thus far in your life and career.

Lastly, be authentic to yourself rather than give the admissions office or program faculty the answers you think they want to hear. Think of graduate school as a collaborative experience instead of catering to them.

Graduate school often paves the way for personal and career growth and success, starting with the decision to apply to graduate school. This exciting and important decision and process does not need to be done alone.

In fact, our graduate admissions team at University of Bridgeport is dedicated to helping students navigate the application process and obtain the resources and financial aid they need. Together, we ensure you’ll get through graduate school and into a great career.

Contact us for more information about our graduate school degree programs and admission requirements.

Start your future today!

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graduate application tips

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Tips to Applying

It’s important to know the components of a graduate school application before you apply, as the application process can be intimidating and time-consuming.

Most graduate school applications require completion of an online application and transcripts from the institution where you received your bachelor’s or other advanced degrees. In addition, you may be asked for a personal statement (or statement of purpose), letters of recommendation, and entrance exam scores. Not all IUPUI programs require all of these; it depends on the program so it’s important to find out the specific requirements of the program to which you will apply.

Personal Statements

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

  • Research the program, school and university you are thinking of applying to. Address in your statement why you want to apply to this program.
  • Follow any specific instructions the program has provided for writing your statement.
  • Help the program visualize you. Let them know who you are, what you have done, what you want to do and how you see that happening.
  • Display confidence and sincerity.
  • Share your passion, interests, experiences and career goals.
  • Show you have a good understanding of the field, that you have a strong passion or curiosity about the field.
  • Take time to reflect on yourself. Ask what has brought you here, to wanting to apply to a graduate program? What are your career goals?
  • Help the admissions committee see that their program is the logical next step for you and that you are a good fit.
  • Address any deficiencies in your academic record but don’t dwell on them.
  • Proof, edit, revise and repeat! Ask others to read it and provide suggestions.
  • Be prepared to talk about your statement with the faculty and staff who have reviewed it if you are invited for an interview.

You may find this Writing the Personal Statement document helpful as well.

Letters of Recommendation

Tips for Gaining Letters of Recommendations

  • Set up an appointment with your potential recommenders to ask if they are willing to write a letter of recommendation.
  • Give 2-4 weeks’ notice minimum and tell them your application deadline.
  • Ask people who know your academic qualifications, preferably professors, or supervisors who can speak to your aptitude for the profession.
  • Provide your transcripts, resume, and personal statement so the recommender completely understands your goals.
  • Provide instructions on how to submit the letter. Many online applications request email addresses and the recommenders are sent an email asking them to submit the letter to a certain link. This is how IUPUI’s application works.
  • Send your recommenders thank you notes or emails.
  • Let you recommenders know the outcome of your application.

Entrance Exams

The most commonly taken test for graduate school is the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Others include the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), LSAT (Law School Admission Test), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), (OAT) Optometry Admission Testing Program, and (DAT) Dental Admissions Test. International students are also required to take the TOEFL exam to show English proficiency.

Tips for Preparing for the GRE

  • Register and take the test early.
  • Take free practice tests.
  • Plan on 1-3 months of preparation time.

There are a number of businesses that offer GRE test preparation materials. Some of them offer free practice tests and downloadable software for studying. They also offer online and live courses with a wide range in pricing. Be sure to take advantage of all the free materials before making any type of investment in classes. ETS , the company that administers the GRE and TOEFL, is a good starting point.

In addition, ETS offers a GRE Fee Reduction Program for individuals who can demonstrate financial need. Voucher users pay 50% of the regular test fee.

Find information on preparing for the LSAT and MCAT .

Free Events and Workshops

Check out the free events and workshops the Graduate Office offers throughout the year to assist you with preparing your application package.

Review the IUPUI Graduate Office Testing page to learn more about various entrance exams for prospective students.

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Graduate Application Helpful Tips

Each section below provides detailed, helpful information regarding the process of starting, filling out, and submitting the graduate application for College of Education graduate programs.

We encourage applicants to note that each program offered in the College of Education is unique:

  • Many programs offer admission consideration and start every term (fall, spring, and summer) with rolling admission consideration. A few programs have specific starting terms (for example, some programs may only offer a fall start).
  • Application deadlines vary from program to program.
  • Not all sections of the graduate application and/or additional materials may be required for each program.

Before Applying:

To view start terms offered, application deadlines, and required materials for a particular program, please follow these steps:

  • Visit the College of Education Graduate Programs webpage ,
  • Select the specific program of interest, and
  • Scroll down that program website and and select the “Admissions” tab.

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at [email protected] for assistance.

Academic Statement of Purpose

Share information that will help reviewers understand your academic interests and objectives, assess your academic background, preparation, and training, and determine if you are a good match for the program to which you are applying. More information about the Academic Statement of Purpose requirement for degree-seeking applicants can be found on the Purdue Graduate School website .

Personal History Statement

Help reviewers learn more about you as a whole person and as a potential graduate student. This may include relevant details on community service, leadership roles, participation in diverse teams, and significant barriers that you overcame to attend graduate school. More information about the Personal History Statement requirement for degree-seeking applicants can be found on the Purdue Graduate School website .

Your resume should provide the admissions committee with more information than what’s included in the application and focus on what they need to know to better evaluate your admission. A graduate resume is different than a job search resume. Job search resumes are designed to get you an interview; graduate school resumes are designed to enhance your application and provide yet another opportunity to sell yourself. Here are a few other helpful tips:

  • The resume is not limited to one page in length (two pages is fine, though contact info must be on both pages).
  • Separate your work and non-work experiences into different sections
  • Include all your experiences – not just the ones targeting a specific job
  • Academic Experience/Highlights
  • Volunteer, Community, and/or Extra-Curricular Involvement
  • Certifications/Professional Development

Transcripts – Transcripts are required for admission to all graduate programs.

  • For non-licensure programs – unofficial transcripts may be accepted for admission consideration, although official transcripts must be sent directly from the issuing institution prior to the third semester in order to continue enrollment, per the policy of the Purdue Graduate School
  • For licensure programs – official transcripts are required for admission consideration

Tips for Submitting Official Transcripts:

  • An official transcript is defined as a transcript that is sent directly from the issuing institution to the Purdue Graduate School.
  • Official transcripts should be requested to be sent directly from the issuing institution to the Purdue Graduate School or [email protected] . If possible, please select Attn: “Grad School.”

Tips for uploading Unofficial transcripts to the application portal:

  • Any transcript uploaded by the applicant is considered unofficial.
  • Social Security numbers must be marked out before any document is uploaded.
  • If degree/date awarded not listed on transcript, a copy of the original diploma must be made and verified by one of the following: the institution that issued the diploma, the employer, an official such as a lawyer (notarized), or an upper-level financial institution employee (notarized). The verifier must write “This is a true original copy of the diploma for (applicant’s full name)” on the copy, and include their name, title, phone, and email address on the copy. The copy cannot be faxed or sent over email; it must be mailed to the graduate program.

Tips for Transcripts from Institutions Outside of the U.S.:

  • View the Purdue Graduate School website for documents required by country to determine which documents are required.
  • Credential evaluation reports will not be accepted by the graduate school. Official transcripts and/or diplomas must be submitted to the Graduate School.
  • Credential evaluation reports may be required for the Office of Teacher Education and Licensure to complete the Transcript Evaluation and Credential Review if applying to a licensure program. The Indiana Department of Education requires an official evaluation of Foreign Studies from a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. Please contact [email protected] for more information. For a list of members, go to  www.naces.org/members.html . Please send the original report to OTEL at [email protected] .

The Purdue Graduate School website provides more information regarding uploading transcripts.

Letters of Recommendation

The best letters to submit are those from former or current employers, co-workers, colleagues, tutors, and other mentors. Never ask family members or close friends. You will have the opportunity to have your recommenders submit an online recommendation by entering their email within the application. The Purdue Graduate School website provides more information about references.

English Proficiency Requirements for International Applicants

International degree-seeking applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit proof of English proficiency.  View the Purdue Graduate School’s accepted tests and minimum score requirements . The Graduate School will routinely waive the English proficiency requirement for applicants who have received a degree within the last 3 years from a school where English is the primary language of instruction in one of the recognized English-speaking countries. Note: If you have not done so already, request that ETS send your scores electronically to the Purdue University West Lafayette campus using code 1631.

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Grad School Resume 2024: Tips, FAQs, and Templates

Lisa Marlin

When applying to grad school, you’ll probably be asked to submit your resume. As grad school admissions become increasingly competitive, it’s critical that you have a strong resume to help you stand out from other applicants and impress the selection committee.

The perfect grad school resume is short and concise but persuasive enough to convince your dream grad school that you’re the perfect candidate. An academic resume is quite different to an employment resume, so it’s important to know how to write a winning CV for grad school.

Table of Contents

Why Do I Need a Grad School Resume?

When preparing your grad school application, you’re probably consumed with many tasks like chasing down your academic transcripts and preparing for the  entrance exam . Your graduate school resume might be the last thing on your mind, but you’ll almost certainly need to prepare one.

Grad school admission requirements vary depending on the school you’re applying to, but you’ll typically need to submit the following for your grad school application:

  • Completed application form
  • Academic transcript
  • Entrance exam
  • Reference letters
  • Personal statement

You shouldn’t use whatever resume you have on hand from the last time you applied for a job. A grad school resume is quite different from an employment resume , so you’ll need to create one specifically for this purpose. A well-crafted and comprehensive resume helps the admissions team understand your strengths, qualifications, experience, and interests. Ultimately, this will help them determine whether or not they’ll accept you into the program.

Related: How To Prep Your Resume For Success (When You’ve No Work Experience)

Tips for Writing a Winning Graduate School Resume in 2024

Follow these tips to show any selection committee that you’re the perfect candidate for their program!

Write a Strong but Concise Introduction

Grad school selection committees go over hundreds, if not  thousands , of resumes to find candidates who meet their standards and who could be excellent ambassadors for the program. Because of sheer volume, they may spend only a few seconds reviewing each resume.

This makes the introduction critical—this part will grab their attention and persuade them to keep reading. So, take your time to write a brief but strong professional profile. In as few words as possible, mention your qualifications, experience, and relevant skills, why you want to join the program, and why you’re the perfect candidate.

Your letter of intent for admission to graduate school gives you a unique way to separate yourself from the rest of the applicants.

Include your Contact Details

Your contact details should go at the top of your resume, right below your name.

Be sure to include the following details:

  • Your first name and surname
  • Your physical address

Your email address

  • At least one contact phone number
  • Links to your social media profiles.

You don’t need to include extra information about yourself such as your race, age, or citizenship. In fact, by law, institutions are not allowed to discriminate based on these details; so, it’s best to leave them off your resume entirely.

On the other hand, social media links are important, especially LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile already, consider signing up for one. The selection committee may check your profile to verify your connections, work experience, internships, volunteer work, and educational background.

Pay Attention to Formatting

Good formatting is vital for any resume—a sloppy layout will make you look unprofessional and could damage your chances of getting accepted into a grad program. Keep it short, simple, and precise—make it no more than one page if possible. Don’t include any unnecessary details or information that isn’t relevant to the program.

The exact layout can vary, but your grad school resume should include:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Summary/introduction
  • Education history and educational achievements

Awards and achievements

  • Significant research projects
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Volunteer work
  • Skills and hobbies

Some grad schools want you to follow a standard format, so be sure to check with the admissions office if they have any grad school resume examples or templates. You can’t expect a call back from the selection committee if you can’t follow a simple format instruction!

For more on formatting, take a look at the sample CVs for graduate school admission later in this article.

Detail your Education History

Many grad schools require candidates to have a minimum level of education in order to be considered for their program. Even if a school doesn’t have strict grade prerequisites, at a minimum you will need to have completed an undergraduate degree. Your education history is one of the first things the selection committee will check when going over your resume.

Because this information is so important, you should outline your education in a prominent spot near the top of your resume. Mention the schools you’ve attended, your qualifications, GPA, and any other courses or certifications you took before or after your undergraduate studies. It’s also essential to include any teaching experience and major research projects.

Be sure to include these details in the education section:

  •       Name of the school
  •       Location
  •       Graduation date
  •       Degrees
  •       Awards

Include your Professional Experience

An academic resume doesn’t need to be limited to your education experience. It’s usually a good idea to also include work experience outside of academia, along with teaching and research experience .

Detailing your diverse work experience may demonstrate additional skills and experience that is relevant to the program. It can also help to build a complete picture of your journey to grad school that will be more compelling to the selection committee. Furthermore, some programs, such as most MBAs, particularly look for professional work experience.

Related: How To Apply To Grad School

Highlight Your Awards and Achievements

Your achievements set you apart from other candidates so it’s vital to highlight them in your resume. Achievements demonstrate your skills and strengths in a very concrete way, giving the committee a good reason to choose you over other applicants. Achievements could include volunteer awards, leadership positions, prizes won as part of extracurricular activities, academic achievements such as honors, and internships. Be sure to also briefly mention what you learned from your achievements.

Detailing your academic achievements can certainly enhance your resume, but it’s not necessary to include every small award you’ve won over the years. Make this section detailed, but without any fluff. Only include awards that are relevant to the program you are applying for.

Stick with Reverse Chronological Order

The selection committee will be most interested in hearing about your latest experience and achievements. Therefore, it’s important to list everything in reverse chronological order: start with your most recent awards, projects, or positions and work backwards chronologically.

You should follow this approach for all the elements in your academic resume. This includes academic and professional work experience, research projects, publications, awards, and other achievements.

Include Key Skills and Proficiencies

At the end of your resume, you should include a section covering your skills and abilities . Detail both the hard and soft skills picked up from your undergraduate program and professional experience. You can also list your hobbies, but remember to avoid fluff – only include extracurricular activities that are relevant to your application.

This doesn’t mean that all the skills and hobbies you mention must be directly related to the graduate program; however, they should show the school that you are a strong candidate for one reason or another. For example, sporting achievements demonstrate dedication and motivation, even if they aren’t directly related to the program you’re applying for. Anything that adds value to your resume will help make your application stand out.

Wherever possible, back up your statements. Rather than just stating that you possess certain skills, provide examples of academic projects that allowed you to build a specific capability, or awards you won that recognize your proficiency in a certain area.

Don’t be Repetitive

Avoid repeating information. If you have only a few achievements to show and you’ve already mentioned them under the education section, you don’t need to create a separate section for achievements and awards. A lengthy resume filled with fluff isn’t going to help you get into your dream school. It’s always better to keep your resume short, concise, and to the point.

Proof Read to Pick up any Errors

Don’t underestimate the importance of proofreading your academic resume for graduate school. Even one or two spelling mistakes, typos, or messy formatting can be a big turn off the selection committees.

Read over your resume to check for errors. Then proofread it again. Just to be sure, ask a friend, family member, or mentor to take a look. Most importantly, make sure your contact details are accurate and up to date!

How to Write a Resume for Your Graduate School Application

Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to writing a resume for grad school applicants.

Step 1: Write a Strong Introduction

Your academic resume should start with a brief but compelling introduction to catch the selection committee’s attention and encourage them to keep reading.

Your introduction should summarize your most relevant skills and academic history, as well as mentioning your main professional objective. A strong graduate school resume objective is authentic, direct, and compelling.

Step 2: List your Academic Experience

In the next section, detail your academic qualifications and experience. Include not only your undergraduate degree and any other studies you’ve completed, but also key coursework, major academic projects and research and teaching experience.

Related: When To Apply For Grad School

Step 3: Detail your Professional Experience

The next part of your academic should cover your professional experience. If you’re a recent graduate with limited experience, list your internships, fellowships, teaching positions, or any other relevant experience you have.

Step 4: Detail your Key Skills

Next, describe your most relevant skills that will impress the admissions committee. It’s essential to include as many relevant keywords as possible, as admissions committees are increasingly using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to automatically filter applications.

Key skills and proficiencies you could add to your resume include:

  • Academic research
  • Business knowledge
  • Social sciences
  • Written communication skills
  • Skills in specific disciplines, such as accounting, actuarial science, biology, calculus, cell-based analysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, economics, engineering, finance, nursing theory, psychology, social work, and statistics

Step 5: List Important Academic Achievements

Finally, highlight your most impressive academic achievements. Include details such as your GPAs, academic memberships and associations, and any awards you’ve received.

Graduate School Resume Template

Below, we’ve included three graduate school resume examples that showcase different ways to format your resume for graduate school. These graduate school resumes include all the critical information, such as academic projects, relevant skills, and professional experience in a clear, concise way.

Grad School Resume Template 1: General Academic Resume

Your First Name, Last Name

Your phone number

LinkedIn profile, other social media profiles

Introduction : 2-3 sentences outlining your qualifications, experience, why you want to join the program, and why you make the perfect candidate.

School name

Completion date – Degree name

  • List of accomplishments

Work Experience

Position title Start date – End date

Organization name, address

  • Responsibilities and achievements
  • List of skills and proficiencies
  • List of awards and achievements

Template 2: Professional-Focused Academic Resume (for MBA and similar programs)

Introduction: 2-3 sentences outlining your qualifications, experience, and main career goals.

Template 3: Recent Graduate Academic Resume

Academic Projects

Project subject, Institution, City, State

Start date – End date

  • List of key courses

Volunteer Experience

Grad School Resume FAQs

Is an academic resume the same as a regular resume.

A grad school or academic resume is totally different from a resume that you might use to apply for a job. Most students have limited work experience, particularly in the professional sector. Furthermore, grad school selection committees generally look for applicants with a strong academic background. Therefore, an academic resume can focus on qualifications, achievements, test scores, and extracurricular activities.

What Should a Grad School Resume Include?

Contact information, educational qualifications, internship programs, awards and achievements, and any extracurricular activities are the basic essentials you should include in your masters degree resume or graduate school resume. You should also have a strong introduction or summary near the top of your resume which tells the selection committee what they need to know at a glance. You can add additional information, such as professional experience and other projects if it’s relevant to the program.

How Long Should My Grad School Resume Be?

Generally speaking, your grad school resume should be no more than one page. However, if you have a lot of experience and a detailed history of qualifications, you can make your resume 1.5-2 pages. But, we don’t recommend going over two pages! The most important thing is to keep your professional resume for graduate school both relevant and concise.

What is the Best Graduate School Resume Format?

There are a few different graduate school resume formats, and the best one for you will depend on your chosen field of study, as well as your level of experience. Equally, it’s important to format your resume so that you showcase your strengths and achievements in the best way possible.

If you already have professional experience, it’s usually best to open with your most recent experience, then continue the list in reverse chronological order. If you have little to no work experience, its preferable to follow your opening summary with your most impressive academic achievements and qualifications.

How do you Align your Resume with a Job Description?

When applying for jobs, you should never use a one-size-fits all resume. Instead, it’s critical to adapt your CV to the job description each and every time. If the job description mentions certain skills, ensure that your resume shows that you have these capabilities. Additionally, be sure to clearly demonstrate the experience and qualifications detailed in the job description.

Likewise, prospective graduate students should tailor their academic resume to the specific program they’re applying to. Many grad schools are highly competitive, so it’s essential that every part of your application, including your resume, helps you to stand out and clearly shows why you’re an excellent fit for the program.

How Far Back Should a Resume go for Grad School?

Your graduate school application should be as comprehensive as possible, but you don’t need to go overboard. Therefore, for most graduate programs, it’s best to include your undergraduate qualifications and any other relevant certifications, but you don’t need to mention your high school GPA or SAT scores , for example.

Likewise, you should generally include professional work experience going back around 10 – 15 years, as long as it’s relevant to the program.

Wrapping Up

Getting into grad school can be tough, especially if you’re applying to one of the  Ivy Leagues . These schools receive thousands of applications, so you really need to make sure yours stands out. It’s important to take your time and make the effort to present a strong application, from your academic transcript and GPA to your winning grad school resume.

Are you putting together a grad school application? Check out this guide on how to ace your grad school interview .

Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

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6 Key Qualities of Successful MBA Candidates

Business school admissions committees want to see quantitative experience and strong leadership skills, among other things.

6 Traits of Successful MBA Candidates

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There are certain traits that business school admissions committees look for when assessing potential students.

Admissions committees review thousands of MBA applications every admission cycle from applicants hoping to be admitted to their dream business school . B-schools seek specific criteria in potential candidates, and understanding how to present your talents to fit that criteria may give you an edge in the applicant pool.

“The application is a very holistic process," says Colin Davis, senior director of marketing and operations for MBA programs at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business in Illinois. "Beyond aptitude and self-awareness, our admission committee looks for purpose and clarity in why applicants seek an MBA and how Chicago Booth’s program complements their goals.”

Applications allow candidates to tell their story and emphasize their unique traits and experiences. Here are six attributes of a successful MBA applicant, according to experts.

Strong Leadership Skills

Business schools want to see evidence of a leader, experts say.

“For years I have always said that leadership is the most important element in a business school application. And that's always been the hardest to define,” says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, a California-based consultancy that helps applicants get into business school.

She says it’s important for MBA candidates to identify their individual leadership experience and leverage it to showcase their character “and also their ability to use judgment and personal strength in the face of ambiguity or difficulty.”

MBA admissions committees are looking for the next generation of future leaders, says Nellie Gaynor, MBA admissions counselor at college consulting firm IvyWise and former associate director of admissions at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. This means demonstrating “how you addressed a problem, developed a solution and how you inspired and motivated others to action,” she says.

Donna Bauman, a senior MBA admissions counselor at Stratus Admissions Counseling, says this is particularly important in a tight job market as MBA programs navigate challenges in the hiring market. “People who have demonstrated the ability to create value will always rise to the top.”

Authenticity

Expressing authenticity in your application means being yourself and reflecting on who you are as an MBA candidate.

“We want applications, specifically the required essays and interviews , to be authentic and we encourage applicants to avoid generic responses,” says Steve Thompson, senior director of full-time admissions at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Thompson says this means going “beyond what you do for a living and show us the how and the why.” For example, he says, an applicant’s admission essays should “address our question directly while providing concrete examples and genuine insights.”

An MBA personal statement should also tie all the pieces of the MBA application together.

“Don’t tell the story that you think the admissions committee wants to hear,” Gaynor says. “Be genuine and share your unique story. Craft a narrative that connects the dots of your background and previous life experiences to your future career goals (and) that demonstrates self-awareness and thoughtfulness.”

Quantitative Competency

A business or economics undergraduate degree isn’t required to apply to an MBA program, but demonstration of quantitative competency is important, experts say.

More than half of Chicago Booth’s Class of 2025 had an undergraduate major that was neither business nor economics, Davis says, "so it is certainly not a requirement."

Admission committees want to know that candidates can succeed in an MBA classroom, he says. Quantitative competency and abilities can be demonstrated through work experience that led to results and organizational impact, or scoring high on the quantitative section of the GMAT or GRE , he says.

Other ways to show quantitative competency include strong letters of recommendation or essays that “articulate how you’ve applied quantitative reasoning in various environments and how you might leverage these skills in an MBA classroom,” Davis says.

Susan Cera, MBA director at Stratus, recommends possibly taking “a quant-focused class so you can hit the ground running when you arrive at business school.” The University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley offer online, self-paced, pre-MBA math courses that introduce students to the basics of accounting, statistics, finance, economics and spreadsheets, she notes.

Stellar Communication Skills

Knowing how to effectively communicate is an important soft skill for MBA candidates and their future careers.

“From your essays to your resume to your interview, you will need to demonstrate your ability to convey your thoughts clearly and effectively. These skills will later serve you in the classroom and in your business career,” Gaynor says.

Solid communication skills are “at the heart of our ability to interpret, share feedback and build consensus in diverse cultural landscapes” for decision-making, building strong working relationships and working collaboratively in teams, she says.

Highly Recommended

MBA hopefuls should select recommenders who know them and their abilities and aspirations well and can highlight their talents.

“Recommendations give the admissions committee a third-party glimpse into your profile,” Cera says. “You want to pick recommenders who will be your champions and sing your praises.”

Letters of recommendation should detail how you work with others and approach challenges and how you’ve made an impact in your role, she says. “For programs that require two recommendations, pick individuals who have observed your work in different capacities so they can showcase a variety of examples of your engagement and contribution.”

For example, MBA students will need to run numbers, solve quantitative problems, identify patterns in information and make data-driven decisions.

Gaynor says a recommender could emphasize a candidate’s skill in data analysis . “Your ability to present the information and grab the attention of the audience will be crucial. Have your recommenders provide an example of how you demonstrated this skill in their letter.”

Fits With School Community 

Admissions committees are also looking for candidates who fit well into the business school's community.

“Pursuing an MBA also means joining a lifelong network," Davis says. "We want to understand how candidates resonate with our community values, such as curiosity, diverse perspectives, flexibility and a pay-it-forward mentality.”

He says this is a big reason why Booth alumni or students conduct interviews with MBA candidates. “Applicants should try to integrate these qualities across all relevant components of their application – essays, recommendation letters, goals and interviews – tailoring their narratives to reflect genuine experiences and aspirations.”

This also means explaining how your career plans post-graduation align with the program and can benefit from the school’s career, community and curricular resources to take that next step .

“There should be a natural connection between your professional background, your goals” and how a prospective school’s resources “can help you get there,” Davis says.

How to Find Money to Pay for an MBA

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  • Submit the required documents

The majority of applicants will need to submit the following documents by the document deadline to complete their application before it can be reviewed for admission. Some will have more or fewer documents to submit, depending on the actual program they apply for and their residency status. Please visit the program website to confirm program-specific requirements and documents

  • An international evaluation of all undergraduate and graduate coursework taken outside of the U.S. and Canada
  • English language proficiency test scores
  • Graduate exam scores (GMAT/GRE), if required by the program
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How to Submit Required Documents

  • For coursework taken outside of the U.S. and Canada, an international evaluation of at least 7 semester transcripts must be submitted. SJSU accepts evaluations from WES, ACEI or ECE. An evaluation report will be sent directly to SJSU by the evaluation agency upon its completion.
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Steps to Admission

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Scholarships for international students | Study abroad fully funded

Welcome to this comprehensive guide to help international students find scholarships to fund their university education, regardless of level of study. this guide covers the cost of scholarships, where to find scholarships, how to apply for a scholarship, tips for application forms and how to prepare for a scholarship application.

young woman celebrating receiving a scholarship award next to her computer with her two friends smiling in the background

When looking to study abroad, students can often be deterred by the high cost of university. However, scholarships can help to alleviate the cost by providing funding to students to help with the expense of tuition fees, accommodation, travel and academic materials.

This guide outlines everything international students need to know about applying for and getting scholarships.

This guide will address:

What is a scholarship?

How to find a scholarship

Types of scholarships for international students

Tips for getting university scholarships

Scholarships for the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

Scholarships for Europe

Global international scholarships for university students

Scholarships based on your country of residence

Scholarships for refugee students

Scholarships for students with disabilities

Scholarships for postgraduate students

Scholarships for STEM students

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about scholarships

A scholarship is a financial award granted to students to help with the cost of studying at university. Scholarships can vary in amount and can usually be used to pay for tuition fees, living costs, travel costs and academic materials among other things.

Scholarships can be awarded based on various criteria such as academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, research areas, leadership potential or financial need.

Scholarships are open to all students including domestic, European Union and international students and can be used for all levels of university study including undergraduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, research programmes, doctoral programmes and PhD programmes.

Where can you find scholarships for international students?

1. University scholarships: These are given by the university based on good grades, extracurricular activities or financial need. Universities will set their own criteria for applying to scholarships, and each university has its own list of scholarships it provides.

2. Academic or merit-based scholarships: These are for students who achieve high grades in school, either in a particular subject or in final exams and have a good academic record or GPA .

3. Performance-based scholarships: These are for students who are exceptional in areas such as sports, arts or music and are looking to pursue that at university.

4. External scholarships: These come from organisations outside universities, such as businesses, charities or higher education associations. Applications to them are usually separate from any university application forms.

5. Government scholarships: Most governments will have their own range of scholarships that will fund tuition fees and travel expenses (such as airfare) for international students wishing to apply to study in their country. Many will also be targeted at students from specific countries or regions.

6. Country/region-based scholarships: These can come from a range of sources including universities themselves, government departments, businesses or charities and will be aimed at students from a particular country or region.

What types of scholarships available for international students?

1. Partially funded scholarships: Unlike a full scholarship, these will cover only some of a student’s expenses. Therefore, students may need to find other ways to pay for the rest of their university expenses such as personal savings, help from families, part-time jobs or other scholarships. Some may offer funding for only one or two years of study.

2. Fully funded scholarships: These cover all expenses, including full tuition fees, accommodation and living costs throughout the university degree course.

3. Research grants: Research grants are financial awards given to university students so they can do in-depth studies and learn more about specific topics in their courses. These are offered globally and can be provided by institutions, government bodies or private organisations.

4. Work-study programmes: Some universities offer programmes in which students can work and gain experience while earning money for their studies.

5. Undergraduate scholarships: These are awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree.

6. Postgraduate scholarships: These are awarded for students pursuing postgraduate degrees, doctoral programmes and PhD programmes.

How to get a university scholarship

Obtaining a scholarship as an international student can be competitive. Here are some tips to help your application stand out.

1. Begin by researching all the different types of scholarships available, including those from governments, universities, companies and charities for the study abroad country of your choice. Contact universities to find out what they have available, and ask teachers or counsellors at your school if they know of any.

2. Ensure that you meet the criteria for each scholarship, including academic grades, country/region of residence, and thresholds for funding requirements.

3. Try your best to maintain your academic grades, as you will often have to list these as part of your application.

4. Partake in extracurricular activities or activities that are related to your degree, which can help to boost your application.

5. Connect with current university students , alumni , school counsellors or university admissions officers for insights and guidance on applying for a scholarship.

6. Ensure that you have all the correct supporting documents, such as university acceptance letters, proof of financial need, English language test results and academic transcripts.

7. Write a compelling personal statement outlining your achievements, extracurricular activities, academic goals and how the scholarship will help you to develop these skills while at university.

8. Secure recommendation letters from teachers or professionals aligning with the scholarship requirements.

9. Proofread your application as many times as you can and, if possible, find someone else to review it.

10. Submit applications well before the deadline to avoid last-minute issues.

11. You can apply to multiple scholarships at a time, so keep a list of all deadlines and requirements for each application so you can stay on top of them. Remember, each scholarship is unique, so adapt these tips to fit the specific requirements of the opportunities you pursue.

What scholarships are available in the UK?

Scholarships available in the UK for international students : Use this guide as a starting point to search for scholarships in the UK, including government-backed schemes and university scholarships.

New scholarships for Indians to study in the UK: UCL and Imperial College London have two scholarship programmes for Indian students aspiring to undertake their studies in the UK.

UK government AI scholarship and visa package: The UK government created a scholarship programme and visa pathway to help international undergraduates, doctoral candidates and early career researchers to pursue studies in AI and data science in the UK.

The Rhodes Scholarship: The Rhodes Scholarship provides support for students from any part of the world to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford .

Chevening scholarships: Chevening is a UK-government scholarship scheme that offers fully funded scholarships for master’s courses at UK universities for students from 160 countries.

University of Birmingham Commonwealth Scholarship : The University of Birmingham Commonwealth Scholarship provides a £3,000 award for eligible students from Commonwealth countries enrolled in a master’s programme at the university, with the scholarship amount deducted from their tuition fees.

GREAT Scholarships:   The  British Council’s GREAT Scholarships  offer students from 15 countries around the world funding and scholarships to study in the UK.

What scholarships are available in the US?

S cholarships available in the US for international students: Use this guide to find a scholarship if you are thinking about studying abroad in the US.

MPOWER Financing: MPOWER Financing’s Global Citizens Fund provides scholarships of up to $10,000 for refugee, DACA and international students studying in the US.

Fulbright Foreign Student Program: The US government’s Fulbright Foreign Student Program has been supporting people to study in the US for more than 80 years. It is one of the most widely recognised and prestigious scholarship programmes in the world.

Scholarship opportunities available at historically black colleges and universities: Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the US offer a wide range of scholarship opportunities for international students, among them the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNCF Scholarships, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the National Racial Equity Initiative Scholarship.

What scholarships are available in Australia and New Zealand?

Scholarships for international students in Australia and New Zealand: For international students considering studies in Australia or New Zealand, this guide outlines some of the scholarships offered by governments and universities.

The Pinnacle Foundation: The Pinnacle Foundation in Australia offers scholarships and mentorship to LGBTQIA+ students seeking full-time higher education degrees at public institutions.

Monash International Leadership Scholarship: The Monash International Leadership Scholarship covers tuition fees for successful applicants to the university.

Australia Awards Scholarships: The Australia Awards Scholarships offer fully funded opportunities for students from Africa and the Indo-Pacific region to study at Australian universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

What scholarships are available in Canada?

Scholarships in Canada for international students: This guide will provide you with all the options for scholarships in Canada from universities and the government.

MPOWER Financing: MPOWER Financing’s Global Citizens Fund offers scholarships of up to C$10,000 to support refugee, DACA and international students pursuing their studies in Canada.

Vanier Canada Graduate scholarships: The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship offers financial assistance to doctoral students applying to study in Canada.

What scholarships are available in Europe?

Scholarships available in France for international students: If you are hoping to study in France, this guide outlines the types of scholarships that may be available to you.

Imagine Fellows : HEC Imagine Fellows is open to master’s students from war-torn countries who hope to study at HEC Paris .

Scholarships available in Germany for international students: This guide provides information on all the options for scholarships in Germany, including DAAD scholarships and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Scholarship.

Scholarships to study in the Netherlands for international students: If you are planning to study in the Netherlands, this guide to scholarships will help you find the right one for you.

Mastercard Foundation Scholarship Programme : The Mastercard Foundation Scholarship Programme offers funding and mentorship opportunities for students across Africa to study abroad.

World Bank Scholarship Programme : The World Bank Scholarship Programme is open to students who wish to study development-related topics for their master’s degrees.

Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme : The Aga Khan Foundation provides a limited number of scholarships for students from select countries to pursue a postgraduate education.

Google Generation Scholarships : Google has developed a range of scholarships for those studying computer science, gaming and technology.

IELTS Prize : The IELTS Prize is an annual award that supports IELTS test-takers with £3,000 towards their university tuition fees.

Search for scholarships by your country of residence

When preparing to study abroad, international students may find it challenging to navigate the multitude of scholarships available. Below you will find a list of scholarships organised by country of residence.

Scholarships for Chinese students looking to study abroad

Scholarships for Indian students to study abroad

Scholarships for African students to study abroad

Scholarships for students from Japan to study abroad

Scholarships for South Korean students looking to study abroad

Scholarships for Indonesian students looking to study abroad

Scholarships for students from Hong Kong to study abroad

Scholarships for Malaysian students to study abroad

What scholarships are available for refugee students?

University scholarships available for refugee students: Many universities worldwide provide scholarships, grants and financial aid to students who are refugees. Explore this guide to learn about the available financial support for students with refugee status from different parts of the world.

What scholarships are available for students with disabilities?

Scholarships for students with disabilities: Financial support for international students with a disability is available from a variety of organisations, charities and universities. This guide covers scholarships for students with a range of additional needs, including learning difficulties, invisible illnesses and mobility issues.

What scholarships are available for postgraduate students?

For students looking to continue their studies at postgraduate level, scholarships will be a great resource to help them continue their studies. They can either help with the tuition fee costs or can be used to contribute towards research projects or academic advancements in your chosen subject.

Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships : Available for international students from Commonwealth countries who wish to pursue a master’s programme in the UK.

GREAT Scholarships : Offered for postgraduate studies in the sciences, technology, creative industries, healthcare and medical sciences. Available for students from specific countries, including China, India, Pakistan and Japan.

University of Cambridge Scholarships : Awarded to students looking to undertake a postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge . It covers the full cost of studying and provides additional discretionary funding.

The American Association of University Women Fellowship : Offers fellowships for non-American women pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in the US. Fellowships range from $18,000 to $30,000, depending on the degree.

Rotary Foundation Global Grant : Provides up to $12,500 to international students studying at a graduate level in the US.

Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program : Provides scholarships for outstanding students from selected developing countries to pursue postgraduate study. The scholarships are 50 per cent grant and 50 per cent loan.

Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships : These are postgraduate-level scholarships for domestic and international students looking to pursue research degrees at participating Australian universities.

Asian Development Bank-Japan Scholarship Program : Provides an opportunity for students from ADB’s developing member countries to undertake postgraduate studies at participating academic institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Victoria University of Wellington Master’s Scholarships : Scholarships for full-time research-focused master’s degrees at Victoria University in New Zealand.

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships : Offered to international students pursuing postgraduate study in natural and social sciences or health sciences in Canada.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships : For international students applying to a doctoral programme in the social sciences and humanities in Canada, with an annual value of up to C$60,000 per scholar for a maximum of three years.

University of Saskatchewan Master’s of Excellence Awards : Open to international master’s students starting a research-based graduate programme, providing C$2,500 per term for a maximum of five months.

What scholarships are available for STEM students?

STEM scholarships provide financial support to students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields . Additionally, they may include opportunities for mentorship and research experiences to enhance recipients’ academic and professional development.

Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Industrial Design Studentships : One-year studentships for graduates in engineering or science looking to enhance their industrial design skills in the UK.

Institute of Engineering and Technology : The Institute of Engineering and Technology based in the UK awards for scholarships starting from £1,000. They are open to students worldwide.

Institute of Civil Engineering QUEST : The institute offers scholarships and awards ranging from £1,000 to £2,500 for postgraduate students studying civil engineering .

The Aero MSc Bursary Scheme : This scheme covers tuition fees for MSc students in aerospace engineering in the UK.

Marshall Scholarships : The Marshall Scholarships offers scholarships for students from the US hoping to study a STEM subject in the UK.

Frequently asked questions about scholarships.

When attending open days or speaking to university admissions officers, consider asking about the available scholarships, eligibility criteria, application processes, scholarship details, duration and renewal, competition, alternative financial aids, student support services, networking opportunities, and cultural and visa aid. Be sure to adapt these questions to the specific university or institution you’re interested in for valuable insights into the available scholarships.

1. How do scholarships work?

Scholarships are financial awards given to students based on a range of criteria including academic merit, research proposals, nationality and financial need. These funds aim to support students to pursue their education by covering a portion or the entirety of tuition fees, living expenses or other educational costs.

2. How to apply for scholarships?

To apply for scholarships, students need first to find the right scholarship for their studies. They then need to complete the application forms and submit the required documents, which may include academic transcripts, letters of recommendation and personal statements. Each scholarship has its own application process, and it’s important to carefully follow instructions and meet deadlines.

3. Where can I find scholarships?

We can help you get a scholarship as an international student through many of our guides and “scholarship of the month” spotlights. Online scholarship databases, university websites and government scholarship portals are also valuable resources for discovering available opportunities.

4. What do scholarships cover?

Scholarships can cover a range of university-related expenses, including tuition fees, accommodation, books, airfare or travel expenses, and living costs. The specific coverage will depend on the scholarship provider.

5. Do scholarships cover all expenses?

While some scholarships may cover all expenses, others may only partially cover certain aspects of your time at university. It’s crucial for students to carefully review the terms and conditions of each scholarship to understand the extent of financial support offered.

6. What are the eligibility requirements for scholarships?

Eligibility requirements for scholarships are different for each award and can include academic achievements, leadership qualities, nationality, financial need, extracurricular activities and more. Read the criteria outlined by each scholarship provider to determine what you need to provide to demonstrate your eligibility.

7. How can I find eligibility criteria for scholarships?

Eligibility criteria for scholarships are usually detailed in the scholarship guidelines or terms and conditions provided by the awarding institution or organisation. Students can find this information on the official websites of universities, government agencies or scholarship databases.

For our “scholarship of the month” features, we provide details on the highlighted award and what a candidate will need to demonstrate eligibility. You can also subscribe to our student newsletter to find out about new opportunities as they arise.

8. What is the easiest scholarship to get for international students?

Figuring out the “easiest” scholarship can be subjective as eligibility criteria and competition vary. However, some scholarships may have more accessible requirements. It’s advisable for students to explore opportunities offered by universities, governments and organisations with criteria aligning closely with their academic and personal achievements.

9. Are there government scholarships for international students?

Each government will have their own scholarship schemes for international students. Below are just a few of them.

In the UK, the Chevening Scholarships and Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan support individuals to study in the UK.

In the US, the Fulbright Program and Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program offer opportunities for international students to study, conduct research or teach.

Canada offers the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and ICCS Scholarships for doctoral students and those interested in Canadian studies.

Meanwhile, Australia Awards and Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships in Australia facilitate study, research and professional development for international scholars.

10. Do scholarships consider where you were born or your nationality?

Yes – some scholarships will be specifically offered for students from a certain country or region. Examples include scholarships for Chinese , Indian , African , Japanese , South Korean , Indonesian and Malaysian students, as well as students from Hong Kong . But there are many other scholarships that provide funding for students living in countries outside of these listed above.

11. How can international students get ready for scholarship applications?

Preparation for scholarship applications can begin long before completing the application itself. Research where you want to study and then look at government and university scholarships in your chosen destination. Make sure that you keep your grades up and take part in extracurricular activities as these can all help to boost your application. Ensure that you then collect all your supporting documents in plenty of time and that you’ve taken all relevant tests and exams.

12. What are needs-based scholarships?

Needs-based scholarships are there to help students who may not have the financial means to fund their education. These will be based on things such as such as family income, assets and how many people are in the household.

To apply, students usually need to show documents such as income tax returns, parental wages and proof of assets to demonstrate their financial situation.

13. What documents are needed for scholarship applications?

Although every scholarship application is different and can require specific documentation, most ask for an accurately completed application form, academic transcripts or records demonstrating scholastic performance, letters of recommendation from teachers or employers, a compelling personal statement or essay, and a comprehensive curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé detailing your educational background and extracurricular activities.

There may also be other documents required, so be sure to read the application requirements carefully.

14. Is there support for international students during the application process?

Yes, international students can often access support during the scholarship application process through their university international office. These offices provide guidance on application requirements, procedures, and may offer assistance in navigating the application process. It is best to contact them directly as you start your application for specialised help.

Students can also speak to their teachers or high school counsellors for help with their applications.

15. Are there any extra benefits when you are awarded a scholarship?

In addition to financial support for tuition, accommodation and living expenses, many scholarships offer added benefits. These may include mentorship programmes, networking opportunities or exclusive events to enhance your overall academic and personal development.

16. How long do scholarships last, and can I renew a scholarship? What are the conditions for renewal?

The duration of scholarships varies, and applicants should carefully review the terms and conditions of each award. Some scholarships cover the entire duration of your academic programme, while others may be renewable each year. The conditions for renewal often depend on maintaining a certain level of academic performance or meeting specific criteria outlined by the scholarship provider.

17. How competitive are scholarships?

Some scholarships can be very competitive depending on the popularity of the programme and the number of applicants. Usually, prestigious scholarships have a higher level of competition, while others with specific eligibility criteria may be more accessible. It’s best for students to research each scholarship and tailor their applications to align with the specific criteria to give themselves the best chance of submitting a successful application.

18. What services are available for international students on scholarships?

International students on scholarship programmes can access various support services provided by universities. These may include academic advising, career counselling and assistance with visa and immigration matters. Additionally, universities often offer orientation programmes and workshops to help scholarship recipients navigate the academic and cultural aspects of their studies.

19. Is there a specific office or adviser for international scholarship-related questions?

Yes, many universities have dedicated offices or advisers to assist international students with scholarship-related questions. These offices can provide information about available scholarships, application processes and offer guidance on eligibility criteria.

20. Can I connect with alumni who have received similar scholarships?

Yes, connecting with alumni who have received similar scholarships can provide valuable insights and advice. Universities often have alumni networks or associations that can help you make these connections. Alumni can share their experiences, offer tips on the application process, and provide guidance on making the most of the scholarship opportunity.

21. How to write a great scholarship application essay?

Writing a scholarship essay involves clearly expressing your goals, achievements and the reasons you deserve the scholarship. Begin by carefully reading the essay prompt and ensuring that your response addresses all aspects. Craft a compelling narrative, focus on your unique qualities and experiences, and illustrate how the scholarship aligns with your academic and career aspirations.

22. How to prepare for scholarship interviews?

Preparing for scholarship interviews involves researching the scholarship provider, understanding the goals of the scholarship, and anticipating common interview questions. Practise explaining your achievements, goals and reasons for applying. Dress professionally, demonstrate enthusiasm, and be ready to discuss your academic and extracurricular experiences in a concise and compelling manner.

23. What are the deadlines for scholarship applications?

Programmes have different deadlines, so make sure you take note of every due date on your chosen scholarship applications. Carefully review the application guidelines provided by each scholarship and plan accordingly because many scholarships do not accept late applications.

24. Are there scholarships for community college students?

Yes, there are scholarships available for community college students. While some scholarships may be specific to four-year institutions, many organisations, foundations and institutions offer scholarships that are inclusive of community college students. It’s essential for students to explore both local and national scholarship opportunities and check with their academic advisers or financial aid offices for guidance on available options. Additionally, some scholarships may be tailored specifically to the field of study or academic achievements of community college students.

25. Are there scholarships open to high school students?

Yes, high school students can start their scholarship search early, allowing them to have awards ready for their first year of university. You will often need to know which country or university you have been accepted to, so read the application criteria for each scholarship and get everything ready before you start applying.

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