Applying to Graduate Schools

A. Try to allow at least 3 months lead-time to the application due date.

This does not mean, however, that you should not apply to graduate schools unless you have this much time; you may simply have to work harder to get materials, complete them, and send them in by the deadlines.

B. Choose 15-25 programs that you think you might be interested in

  1. They should range from the most highly competitive school you think you might be able to get into, to less competitive schools you should have no problem getting into
  2. You won't actually apply to every school for which you send away for information

C. Check out the websites of the graduate schools and graduate programs to which you think you want to apply. Gather information about orientation, success of graduates, professors who are active in the program, etc.

D. Write to the program director as listed in the graduate catalog, on the website, or in Graduate Study in Psychology

  1. Be professional and business-like in the letter requesting information
    • Use plain, white bond paper
    • Use a business envelope to send letter in
    • Type letter and envelope, using business format
  2. An alternative is to make up postcards that are professional in appearance in order to request information

E. When you receive the information, check that it matches what you know so far

F. Request recommendations from the professors who know you well.

  1. Make an appointment to see each professor
  2. At the meeting:
    • Ask the professor if
      1. he or she would be willing to write a recommendation for you
      2. he or she can write a positive recommendation
    • If the professor is hesitant, find someone else
    • Talk to the professor about your graduate school goals and career goals
  3. Give each recommender:
    • a copy of the information sheet that describes what classes you've had, etc.
    • a copy of the graduate program's recommendation form with typed or neatly printed identifying information
    • a stamped, addressed (typed) envelope for each recommendation form
    • the date when the recommendation is due
    • a copy of your statement of purpose
    • If you giving the recommender a large number of recommendation forms, a cover sheet summarizing where each recommendation has to go and when is very convenient
  4. Allow recommenders at least 2 weeks to write the recommendation, and allow at least 1 week for mailing time

G. Check on the recommenders to see if they have any questions and that they're got everything done on time

H. Write your statement of purpose, tailoring it to the specific program to which you are applying

I. Fill out the application

  1. Be complete (fill all blanks in)
  2. Be truthful
  3. Be neat (typed is best)

J. Submit requests to the Records Office to send your transcripts to director of the graduate program. Make sure that you have the proper name, title, and address of the person who is to receive the transcripts

K. Send in all materials on time

L. Wait to hear from program

M. Entrance Interviews

Some graduate schools require an interview as a part of the entrance requirements. The following questions may help you prepare prior to the interview. It is important that you research the school and the program so that you can respond intelligently to questions that may be asked of you (such as the first one on the list) and also to be able to ask good questions when you are given the opportunity.

  1. Why did you choose our program? Why do you think we have the right program for you?
  2. What are your career goals?
  3. What are your research interests? Experiences?
  4. Why do you think you would be a good candidate for this program? OR Why did you choose [the discipline you will be studying]?
  5. What are your academic strengths? Weaknesses?
  6. What person in your field has influenced you most?
  7. What related job experience do you have?
  8. What books [both inside and outside your field] have influenced you most?
  9. What outside interests do you have?
  10. What undergraduate courses [or professors] did you like most and why?
  11. What do you think is the most important political or social issue today?
  12. What family or other influence has had the greatest impact on your life? On your choice of [your discipline]?
  13. What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?