Everything (we hope) you need to know about applying.
General Application Requirements
Graduate school applications generally require:
- Online application
- Statement of purpose
- Personal statement/history/diversity statement (often optional if part of a program’s application) (see general essay types)
- Letters of recommendation (see Know Your Audience)
- Standardized test
- Minimum GPA (often a 3.5 or above, but not always; may not be stated
- Resume or CV
Watch this video series about different aspects of applying to graduate school.
Check the website for each program you want to apply to for specific application requirements. The actual online application is your best source for the current prompts for essays you might have to write.
Reaching out to Faculty
You are not required to reach out to faculty you’re interested in working with. However, if you decide to do so:
- Ask faculty you know if they have contacts in the programs you want to apply to and if they’ll connect you
- Check to see if the professor is open to hearing from prospective students before they’ve been accepted.
- Reach out before an application cycle, not during, whenever possible. You’re more likely to get a response.
Funding for graduate school depends on the type of degree you’re seeking and what the program and university have to offer. Funding, when available, is usually only for full-time, in-person students.
Non-thesis/research master’s degrees are generally not funded by the program or university, and students are expected to cover their expenses. You may be able to apply for some funding but will have to explore the details through the programs you apply to. Available funding may be in the form of a teaching assistantship that waives your tuition in exchange for work. Funding for non-thesis/non-research master’s is not the norm.
Thesis/research-based master’s programs are more likely to offer tuition funding than non-thesis/non-research master’s program. Financial support is generally in the form of a research or teaching assistantship with a professor. You’ll have to explore the options available from the programs you want to apply to.
If you apply for a full-time, in-person doctoral program, you can also expect that your application will be used to consider financial support in the form of a research and/or teaching assistantship.
Prestigious Fellowships for undergraduates and graduate students
Nationally and internationally competitive funding opportunities exist for undergraduates as well as graduate students. Such fellowships are merit-based awards that fund research, study, or travel during or after undergraduate education. A prestigious fellowship differs from a scholarship in that they often have cohorts of recipients who are invited to share their experiences and develop a network that may extend into their professional career.
Explore prestigious fellowships as early as possible during college so that you know what the opportunities are instead of what they were. Some awards are available as early as your sophomore year. Application for prestigious fellowships also prepare you for applying to graduate school because deadlines tend to be earlier than those for graduate programs.