Exact timelines depend on the needs of the individual, but here are some recommendations:

Six months prior to applying (e.g., toward the end of Junior Year)

  • Research areas of interest, institutions, and programs.
  • Talk to advisers about application requirements.
  • Register and prepare for appropriate graduate admission tests.
  • Investigate national scholarships.
  • Obtain letters of recommendation, if appropriate

Three months prior to applying (e.g. the summer before Senior Year)

  • Take required graduate admission tests.
  • Request/download application materials.
  • Write the first draft of your application essay.
  • Check on application deadlines and rolling admissions policies.
  • If appropriate, register for the national application or data assembly service (e.g. Law; most health fields)

Fall, a year before matriculating

  • Obtain letters of recommendation
  • Take graduate admission tests if you haven’t already.
  • Send in completed applications

Winter, before matriculating in the fall

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE, if required.

Spring, before matriculating in the fall

  • Check with all institutions before their deadlines to make sure your file is complete.
  • If possible, visit institutions that accept you.
  • Send a deposit to your institution of choice.
  • Notify other institutions of your decision so that they move to their wait list.
  • Send thank you notes to your recommenders, informing them of the outcome.