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Career and Professional Development

Student Life

Student Preparation for Graduate School

Why Should you Attend Graduate School?

According to the U.S. News, overall people with a Master’s Degree earn an average of about $2.7 million over their lifetimes, compared to $2.3 million for people with a Bachelor’s and they tend to enjoy greater employment security.

Results from a 2017 survey showed that almost 80% of graduates with Master’s Degrees were employed within six months of graduation. – National Association of Colleges and Employers

How to Prepare For Graduate School

  • Take your time. Many students work for one or more years before applying to graduate schools.
  • Research potential grad schools based on major, career goals, location, type of program, cost, and program outcomes.  Career and Professional Development can help you understand your options when it comes to graduate school programs.
  • Seek advice from an academic counselor, faculty member, or staff.
  • Investigate multiple sources of funding-scholarships, fellowships, teaching and research assistantships, financial help from employers-to lessen the need to borrow.  Career and Professional Development staff is available to assist you in researching ways to pay for graduate school.
  • Start taking free online GRE/MCAT/LSAT practice exams.
  • Attend Graduate program information sessions or Grad School Fairs.  Career and Professional Development has connections to over 150 graduate schools across the country.
  • Reach out and talk to people about why they went to graduate school and what they thought of their experience.  Career and Professional Development staff can assist you with your networking and communications skills. 

Potential Graduate School Timeline

Junior Year

Fall and Spring
  • Explore your options. Research a variety of programs you find interesting.
  • Ask others. Consult with your faculty regarding your research interests and programs you might like to pursue.
  • Familiarize yourself with the application process. Scan application forms, curriculum catalogs and financial aid information to become familiar with requirements, procedures and programs.
  • Be aware of deadlines. Note deadlines now for future planning.
  • Prepare yourself for entrance exams. Register and prep for appropriate graduate admissions tests.
  • Register with national application services, if appropriate.
  • Take all required or recommended graduate admissions tests. Be aware of deadlines and minimum time needed for scoring to ensure that you meet school admissions requirements.
  • Collect forms. Obtain application forms and financial aid applications so you can begin to prepare them in the early fall. If applying online, print the application form first to make notes and ensure you have complete information available for when you are ready to submit the application online.
  • Investigate potential schools in-depth. Visit or speak with admissions staff, current students and faculty at programs of interest. Be sure to investigate faculty research interests.
  • Work on application essays. Begin drafting them now so you have time to get feedback from faculty and Career and Professional Development staff before applying.
  • Conduct detailed research about financial opportunities. Find out about financial aid, scholarships, fellowships and teaching or research assistantships.

Senior Year

  • Ask for recommendation letters. Obtain additional letters of recommendation as needed.
  • Consider cost. For financial aid, check with each school for application requirements and forms.
  • Mail completed application materials.
    • Financial aid applications: Do not forget these.
    • Admissions test reports: You must request that score reports be sent to your schools of choice.
    • Transcripts: Official transcripts must be sent through the Mount’s Registrar’s office. However, you may request copies and mail them as a courtesy with your application.
    • Letters of recommendation: Submit requests to faculty at least a month in advance of application deadlines.
    • Application essays/personal statement: Schedule a critique with a Career and Professional Development staff member.
    • Portfolios, resumes, auditions, or other materials: Send as requested.
  • Monitor admissions decisions. Follow up to check on the status of your application.
  • Continue to visit institutions of interest. Evaluate your options and interview if necessary or desired.
  • Decide and notify. Once accepted to a program of your choice, notify other institutions of your decision.
  • Send thank-you notes. Include those who wrote recommendation letters, and inform them of your plans.

Adapted from Princeton University