Where do I start?

How can I position myself well for graduate school?

How do I research schools?

Do I need the GRE or the GMAT?

How can I pay for graduate school?




Getting In: An Applicant’s Guide to Graduate School Admissions by Dave Burrell

Peterson’s Guide (hard copies located in Hiatt)

Get What You Came For (hard copy located in Hiatt)

Council of Undergraduate Research: The Council matches undergraduate student research, from sciences and humanities, with graduate school research opportunities, at no cost to students.

Letters of Recommendation

Graduate School

Getting Started

There are over 2,000 graduate programs in the U.S., and hundreds more internationally.  The Hiatt Career Center offers resources for researching programs, and our counselors can assist you with many parts of your application.  Once you have determined that an advanced degree is the right path for you, what next?  

  • Which is the best program - for YOU? Finding the right school is not all about rank.  Know what you are looking for in a program. What are your criteria?  Schools not only want to know if you are qualified, they want to know if you are a good fit, so knowing what you really want from a program will help you select the best schools for you.

  • Talk to the academic experts.  Faculty members are a terrific resource. Many are experts in their fields and are familiar with current topics and fields of research.  Your professors are in an excellent position to talk to you not only about options for each degree, but which schools are strongest in the areas that interest you the most.

  • Look at who is in the field.  Professional organizations have a wealth of information about trends in your field of interest and who are the key players; the program they attended might be a program that meets your interests as well.

You are about to gather a lot of useful information.  Stay organized!  Whether you prefer a spreadsheet or handwritten notes, keep track of your research, deadlines and activities.

Positioning Yourself for Graduate School

  • Set the Stage.  Part of your application will be to explain why you want to focus on a particular demonstrate how you arrived at the topic of your focus.  This includes academics as well as activities outside the classroom, such as internships, volunteer opportunities and even extra-curricular activities.  

  • Excuse me, Professor?  Get to know faculty members well. They are your best resource for graduate school information and they need to know you well in order to write a strong letter of recommendation.

  • Watch your debt. Chances are you will need some loans to finance your graduate school education. Section VII of the Graduate School Guide has more information.

Researching Schools

Peterson’s Guide can help you find programs in your field of study.  Faculty can help you narrow your search based upon your interests. Section V of the Graduate School Guide discusses PhD and Master’s program selection.

After you have found out all the information you can from program websites, faculty and other sources, it is completely acceptable to contact programs directly over the phone or by email.

When researching schools, pay attention to where graduates go after they finish the program.  Do their paths appeal to you?

Entrance Exams:  Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)

GRE: The GRE is the most common standardized among the variety of graduate school programs.  There GRE includes: Analysis of an Issue, Analysis of an Argument, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.  With advanced planning it is usually possible to find a testing center offering the exam on the day of your choosing.  Take the GRE only when you are ready, but at least 60 days before your applications are due. Section VI of the Graduate School Guide offers suggestions on test preparation.

The Education Testing Service (ETS) is your main source for test registration and information. The weight given your test scores varies from program to program, and you can contact the programs in which you are interested directly to inquire.

GMAT:  Before 2006, a GMAT score was required for management/business school candidates.  Now, many business schools also accept the GRE.  The GMAT contains 4 sections:  Analytical Writing, Verbal, Quantitative reasoning.  The test can be taken at any time that you are ready, but at least 21 days before your applications are due.  The Graduate Management Admission Council is the official site of the GMAT and offers information as well as registration for the GMAT. 

Financing Graduate School

Detailed information on loan and grant programs are in the Graduate School Guide. For a general overview for types of aid available, you can checkout this page of the College Affordability Guide. You will need to research each program for opportunities for research or teaching assistant positions and other resources such as work-study.  One appealing aspect of graduate programs here at Brandeis is that alumni may be eligible for a generous scholarship.