Application TimelineClick or enter to reveal information below
- Solidify interest areas and define your goals. Research types of programs and specific programs and make list of potential school possibilities along with their application procedures and deadlines.
- If standardized testing is required, create a realistic study plan. Plan to take your test well in advance of application deadlines.
- Address deficiencies. Many graduate programs prefer applicants with research experience. Contact your department or college for research or lab opportunities.
- Research general financial aid information and location of school.
- Take practice admissions tests and a test prep class if feasible.
- Take required admission test in late spring or early summer
- Meet with your Academic Advisor to review Advisement Report to confirm graduation is on track.
- Create your short list of schools you are applying to
- Identify faculty to request to write letters of recommendation for you
- Some programs start accepting applications during the summer - deadlines vary by school
Senior Year - Fall Semester
- Draft, rewrite and polish personal statement
- Work on application forms
- Keep a copy of all completed applications that you submit
- Request letters of recommendation from faculty
- Order official transcripts from every school you have college credits from
- Follow up with schools to make sure your application file is complete
- Programs with interviews conduct admission interviews in the fall through the spring
Senior Year - Spring Semester
- Evaluate admissions offers
- Evaluate any financial aid offers
- Visit prospective schools, if possible
- Inform schools of your decision; send in the deposit to your school of choice
- Write thank-you notes to everyone who helped you
Test PreparationClick or enter to reveal information below
You need to determine what tests are required for admission to the programs you are considering: GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MAT, MCAT, PCAT, or DAT. For some graduate programs, you may need to take the general GRE and then the subject test for your field. Find out what tests are required by the schools you are considering. Not all schools require the same test, even for the same type of program.
Prepare for and take the admission’s test early! If you take your required test at the end of your junior year, it allows you to do early applications and still have time to retake the test if desired. Most of the admission’s test websites have information and resources for test preparation, including a practice test to help you decide if it would be helpful to take a preparation course. The UA Think Tank offers preparation for some of the graduate/professional school admissions tests.
Make sure you send your results to all the schools to which you are applying.
Personal StatementClick or enter to reveal information below
Professional/graduate schools require Personal Statements from applicants. These may also be called an Admission Essay, Statement of Purpose, or Mission Statement. Some scholarship applications also request a Personal Statement.
The purpose of a Personal Statement is:
- To show your understanding of how a particular program and career path is right for you
- To focus on the skills and experience you offer which make you a competitive and qualified candidate
Start writing your statement early, long before the deadlines. Brainstorm ideas, write an outline, write, edit, rewrite, ask other people to review your statement, and then edit again! Proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation to ensure the content is relevant and the writing flows.
Begin with an outline that covers:
- Your educational background
- Experience - work, volunteer, internships, campus activities, community service
- Skills and interests related to your career field
- Strengths, weaknesses, personal characteristics and accomplishments
- Personal, educational, and career goals
- Motivations for the area of study and the influences in your life and special events
- Challenges you have faced
- Extenuating circumstances you need to explain (grades, test scores, limited experience, hardships)
- Uniqueness - how are you special, distinct, different, impressive
- Compelling reasons for you to be admitted to a program
- Why you are interested in attending a particular program
This is not a biography of your whole life, especially since most personal statements have a 1-2 page limit. Highlight the most important points about your background, qualifications, and life experiences that have influenced your choices. Many graduate programs will give you some idea of what they want you to address in the personal statement. Make sure you address what they are looking for, and individually tailor your essay for each application. Think of your statement as storytelling and make it compelling to read!
Letters of RecommendationClick or enter to reveal information below
Graduate schools and professional programs require letters of recommendation. It is important to get strong letters from individuals who are familiar with your academic and/or research abilities. Strong recommendations will strengthen your application. Each program you apply to will tell you how many letters they require and in what format. Some programs have forms for the letter-writer to fill out and others will want a letter on the letterhead of the letter-writer. The majority of all schools want letters submitted online.
Who to ask
The following individuals make the best letter writers:
- Someone who knows you and your academic background and research work well
- Someone with the title of “Professor” or "Associate Professor" but not a “Teaching Assistant”
- Someone who is a professor at the school granting your bachelor’s degree
- Someone who has earned the degree which you are seeking in your graduate work
- Someone with an advanced degree who has directly supervised you in a job or internship aligned with the career you are pursuing
- Someone who has academically evaluated you in an upper-division class
Letters from family, friends, political figures, influential community members are discouraged and may be detrimental.
Make sure that you are very confident that the individual you are asking will write you a strong letter. Identify who you want to have write your letters and then ask each one individually, if they know you and your work well enough, to write you a strong letter of recommendation. In order to make the process as easy for them as possible, give them a file containing:
- A list of programs you are applying to with the deadline dates and contact name and address
- A description of what you would like them to emphasize in each letter
- A copy of your Personal Statement and your most current resume or CV
- List of courses you took from them with a copy of your best work
- Any other relevant information
- Information on how they can contact you
Most schools ask that your letters of recommendation be confidential and ask you to waive your right to see them. Schools consider these letters to have more integrity than non-confidential letters. Therefore, it is imperative that you trust the individuals who write your letters.
It is your responsibility to make sure that your letters are received on time. Give your faculty plenty of time to get the letters submitted. Follow up with your faculty to make sure they have completed your letters. Also, contact the graduate/professional programs or log into your application portal to be sure your letters have arrived before the deadline.
Admission InterviewsClick or enter to reveal information below
Some graduate schools conduct interviews to evaluate a candidate's academic preparation, related experience, personal qualities, communication skills, career goals and fit with their educational program. Interview formats vary, but usually include interviews with faculty, meetings with current students and admissions staff, and tours of the facilities. It is critical to evaluate ahead of time what is most important for the interviewers to know about your background and preparation for graduate school, your experiences, and your career goals.
Interviewers develop an impression of how you look, dress, speak, and act in order to provide their feedback to the admissions committee. You may increase your chances for interview success through preparation, reflection, and evaluation. When preparing, keep in mind the skills and qualifications that schools are seeking in candidates. Practice talking about your skills, accomplishments, and career goals. You need to inspire confidence in your ability and potential to be a successful student and to become a professional in this career field.
Questions will assess:
- Career related experiences
- Education and knowledge
- Preparation for graduate school
- Personal characteristics
- Knowledge of program and faculty research
- Professional interests/goals
Career Services offers many resources to assist students with polishing their interviewing skills.
- Attend an upcoming interview workshop or webinar
- Drop-in during Walk-in Hours for quick questions
- Contact us to schedule a mock interview with one of our Career Educators (at least two weeks in advance)
- Practice using UA InterviewStream - interview preparation software with an extensive question bank customizable by industry, field, or question types.
ReapplicationClick or enter to reveal information below
Many intelligent, well qualified, academically prepared students do not get into graduate school or professional programs. Sometimes there is a fairly good reason, such as their Personal Statement needed a bit more work or their GRE scores were not as high as they wished. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a good reason at all: they had great MCAT scores, 3.9 GPA, a wonderful personal statement, and a good interview. Getting in is an extremely competitive process, especially for medicine and law. If you did not get in, it does not mean that you are not qualified. It means that the admission committee chose other candidates over you. You could apply next year and perhaps get accepted. However, not getting in means you must decide on your next steps.
There are a number of options open to you if you do not get into graduate/professional school: re-apply, apply to different types of programs, delay going in order to strengthen your re-application, decide on a different career course that does not require graduate/professional school.
If you decide to re-apply, you will want to think about how you can strengthen your application. You may need to take a test preparation course and re-take your admission’s test, re-write your personal statement, or get stronger letters of recommendation. You may need more relevant experience. You may need to practice more for you admissions interview.
You may decide to apply to a different type of program or a broader range of schools. Someone who has their heart set on a career in medicine, may decide that a different type of degree may give them the opportunities they want to work in healthcare. It could be that if you take some time to get experience in your field, you will be a stronger candidate. Taking extra coursework in your academic area can strengthen your application.
Sometimes not getting into a graduate program opens the door to a new career area. You may decide that branching off into a different career area really fits better for you. Whatever scenario is yours, give yourself some time to think through the different options and how they fit for you. Talk to others; bounce your ideas off of an advisor, faculty member, career coach, or friend. Use your resources, both on and off campus, to help you decide what to do next.