Your timeline ideally begins your junior year

It is a good idea to start preparing well in advance of graduation if you are planning to attend graduate school. Not only will you need time to prepare all of the materials required to apply by the deadline, but you will want to work on acquiring excellent letters of recommendation and getting any needed experience. Note that graduate admissions funding deadlines may be different from graduate program guidelines so you will want to apply in time so you will receive full consideration for funding packages.

Fall of Junior Year

  • Attend Graduate School Fair to gather information and talk to recruiters about what they look for in a graduate application

Spring of Junior Year

  • Start studying for GRE or take the GRE, particularly subject tests
  • Begin researching programs and advisors

Summer after Junior Year

  • Practice for GRE
  • Do some reading to enhance verbal scores
  • Perform practice in the profession (research or design)
  • Continue researching graduate programs, looking at faculty interests, entrance requirements and deadlines
  • Request information from schools that interest you
  • Talk to professors about schools of interest
  • Draft personal statement

Fall of Senior Year

  • Attend the Graduate School Fair
  • Continue GRE subject test preparation for test or re-test if needed
  • Narrow list of programs/schools to manageable size
  • Polish personal statement for top two or three schools, tailoring it to your program
  • Contact recommenders
  • Contact schools and faculty of particular interest
  • Download applications and begin to do rough drafts

Early Winter Senior Year

  • Begin submitting applications
  • Touch base with recommenders
  • Verify completed applications

Late Winter Senior Year

  • Visit schools as invited or desired
  • Complete FAFSA if applying for financial aid
  • Take deep breath
  • Plan ahead for likely travel during finals, term break, etc.