Career & Professional Development helps students become familiar with the application process, learn more about personal statements, and prepare for admissions interviews.
Your first step is to find the graduate programs you would like to apply for.
- Visit schools’ websites
- Request promotional materials
- Compare location, tuition rates, application requirements, length of program, and degree being offered, and other criteria that might help you decide on a school
- Make appointments for information sessions and tours on-site
- Check out these links for finding programs in your field of interest:
Use this suggested checklist to walk you through the initial organizational steps and application submission process.
Information to Gather
- Each university’s application and supplemental form deadlines
- Each program’s required documents
- Contact information for representatives of the program
- Contact a Career Services representative to assist with the application process
- Submit the following documents along with your application:
- Official copies of your transcript
- Test scores (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.)
- Personal statement
- Resume or CV
- Letters of recommendation
- Additional writing samples or portfolio
- Prepare for admissions interview
- Apply for financial aid
First Steps (Beginning as early as you Junior Year)
- Research areas of interest & schools
- Make an appointment with a Career & Professional Development staff member
- Become familiar with the admissions process and criteria
- Request and review online admissions materials
- Begin updating and polishing your resume
- Request contact information for program heads
- Prepare and register for entrance exams
- Begin writing statement of purpose
- Develop relationships with potential references
- Take a practice and actual entrance tests
Next Steps (Beginning as early as your Senior Year)
- Order official transcripts
- Contact references for all necessary materials
- Begin applying for fellowships and scholarships
- Have personal statement reviewed, revised, and finalized
- Send in completed financial aid applications and forms
- Check with schools before deadlines to ensure applications are complete
- Keep track of acceptances, wait lists, and rejections
- Notify schools of your decisions and send in the required deposit to the school you are accepting
- Write thank you notes to people who helped you along the way
What is a statement of purpose?
- Usually a 1-2 page narrative about your academic interests, the characteristics and accomplishments that make you a good fit for each particular program, and how you might contribute to the school’s graduate program.
- Some grad schools ask you to address specific questions in your personal statement.
What makes a compelling statement?
- Writing an effective personal statement means knowing yourself and your goals well, paired with the ability to tell a good story.
- Provide clarity about your background, goals, philosophy and ways you can contribute to a graduate program.
- Make sure to answer any questions provided in the prompt in an organized essay format. No bullets!
How to get started?
- Brainstorm ideas of what got you interested in the field in the first place.
- Write about why you are now passionate about your intended field.
- Think of any stories pertinent to your experience within the field (if you have any).
Have drafts reviewed and revised by as many people as you can get to read it. That said, make sure not to lose your literary voice in the editing process.
- Solicit letters from those who know you well and can speak to your ability to succeed ie. faculty in your department, advisors, professionals in your field whom you have worked with.
- Plan to have at least three strong letters.
- Provide recommenders with supporting material such as a description of the program you are applying for and your resume at least two months before the application deadline.
- Follow-up with polite reminders to the recommenders prior to your deadline.
- Review application materials and the program description.
- Research the schools’ academic emphasis, mission, and faculty projects/research.
- Prepare examples of your past experiences with being a leader.
- Be ready to explain your interest in the career you are pursuing and why you are interested in their particular program.
- Schedule a mock interview with Career & Professional Development!
Have thorough knowledge of yourself. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses especially as they relate to anticipated questions such as “Tell me about yourself?” and “What would you like to be doing five years from now?” Plan your answers to these commonly asked graduate school interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- If you’re not accepted into graduate school, what are your plans?
- Why did you choose this career?
- What do you know about our program?
- Why did you choose to apply to our program?
- What other schools are you considering?
- In what ways have your previous experience prepared you for graduate study in our program?
- What do you believe your greatest challenge will be if you are accepted into this program?
- In college, what courses did you enjoy the most? The least? Why?
- Describe any research project you’ve worked on. What was the purpose of the project and what was your role in the project?
- How would your professors describe you?
- How will you be able to make a contribution to this field?
- What are your hobbies?
- Explain a situation in which you had a conflict and how you resolved it. What would you do differently? Why?
- Describe your greatest accomplishment.
- Tell me about your experience in this field. What was challenging? What was your contribution?
- What are your career goals? How will this program help you achieve your goals?
- How do you intend to finance your education?
- What skills do you bring to the program? How will you help your mentor in his or her research?
- Are you motivated? Explain and provide examples.
- Why should we take you and not someone else?
- What do you plan to specialize in?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- What can be determined about an applicant at an interview?
To find out additional information about doctorate degrees, visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section at bestcolleges.com.