Grad School Application Checklist and Timeline

Grad School Application Checklist/Timeline 

This suggested timeline is for students planning to attend graduate school immediately after earning a bachelor’s degree and can be easily adjusted for students planning a post-baccalaureate or gap-year experience or for master’s students applying for doctoral programs. Note that this is a suggested timeline and may not apply to all programs, i.e., medical school or physical therapy school. Use this as a guide to keep you on track but remember to follow up with each program individually for specifics.  

Winter/Spring - Junior Year  

  • Meet with career/academic advisors and professors to discuss your interest in graduate study  
  • Begin researching institutions/programs and visiting for campus tours  
  •,,, professors/advisors  
  • Attend graduate school fairs (The Career Connections Center hosts one each October)  
  • Draft the beginnings of your personal statement  
  • Write a resume/CV and have it reviewed in the Career Connections Center  
  • Identify individuals for letters of recommendation and continue to develop these relationships  
  • Gain experiences needed to diversify your application  
  • Part-time work, club involvement, volunteer service, research  
  • Register and take appropriate standardized exams (there are many – see what is appropriate for your industry)  
  • The GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) has a general test component, which is most often required for graduate admission, as well as several GRE Subject Tests that focus on a specific field of study.  
  • Free GRE preparation materials may be found on the official GRE Web page and also at and  
  • The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), and PTE (Pearson Test of English) are common English proficiency tests.  
  • Take practice exams if desired  
  • Register with appropriate application systems  
  • Sometimes you have to apply to both the university’s graduate school in addition to a specific program  
  • Complete and submit medical school applications – this process is earlier than other graduate school applications  

Summer – After Junior Year  

  • Continue to research/visit schools  
  • Network with professors to discuss overlapping research interests and how your skills might contribute  
  • Work on your personal statement  
  • Visit the Career Connections Center and Writing Center for review  
  • Ask individuals for letters of recommendation  
  • Provide your resume and other helpful documents to assist them with your letter  
  • Continue to gain experiences needed to diversify your application  
  • Make a checklist of requirements and schedule for each application  

Fall/Winter – Senior Year  

  • Register and take appropriate standardized exams  
  • Request copies of official transcript from Registrar’s office  
  • See application guidelines for how to submit (with application or sent separately)  
  • Finish personal statement  
  • Collect letters of recommendation  
  • Attend appropriate graduate school information sessions/events  
  • Apply for scholarships and awards  
  • Complete applications and submit  
  • Preferably in advance before deadlines/rolling deadlines  
  • Be sure to be intentional and strategic when applying – it is beneficial to apply to more than one program to greater the chances of acceptance  
  • Submit financial aid applications  

Spring – Senior Year  

  • Interview with institutions that require an interview for program admittance/assistantships  
  • Engage with institutions that accept you (campus tours, virtual tours)  
  • Contact/talk to students currently enrolled in the program to gain more information  
  • Complete FAFSA  
  • Consider what will be best for you (scholarship, assistantships, student loans)  
  • Submit tuition/housing deposits upon acceptance  
  • Notify other institutions that accepted you so they may admit students on their waitlist  
  • Send thank you notes to those who wrote your letters of recommendation, and inform them of your success  
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