Graduate School Resources
With more than 2,000 graduate programs in the U.S. and hundreds more internationally, there are many options to choose from. The resources below will help guide you in the process of researching programs, preparing your application, writing a personal statement and hitting "Send."
Now that you have determined that an advanced degree is right for you, your next steps are:
- Finding a program: The right school is not all about rank. Instead, your decision should be based on what you are looking for in a program. Identify your criteria and be realistic about your fit with that school.
- Asking 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 most interest you. A graduate school admissions office will also serve as a valuable resource for you to ask questions and get information on how to put your best foot forward.
- Researching 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.
- Getting organized: Think back to your time applying to college as an undergraduate. From deadlines to fees, there is a lot to keep track of. Use handwritten notes or a spreadsheet to keep track of your progress.
Set the stage: Part of your application will be to explain why you want to focus on a particular area and 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 extracurricular 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 to write a strong letter of recommendation.
- Watch your debt: Chances are that you will need some loans to finance your graduate school education.
When choosing a school, consider:
- Curriculum: Does this program teach what you want to learn? Look at the courses offered and browse the syllabi for information.
- Reputation of a program and faculty: Is this program highly regarded in the research you have conducted, in the blogs/articles you've been reading and by the faculty/alumni you've been speaking with?
- Geography: It may be beneficial to attend a graduate school in the same state where you intend to work if state licensure is required. You will be building a network of people in this area throughout your program.
- Cost: State schools generally have lower tuition rates for in-state students. Availability of teaching or research positions can affect the cost factor for applicants.
- Vibe: Graduate schools have different "personalities" and some may be more suitable for you than others. Take a tour and attend a class. Speak with students, faculty and alumni about their perspectives and experiences.
Search resources include:
- Peterson’s Guide can help you find programs in your field of study. Faculty can help you narrow your search based upon your interests.
- LinkedIn can help you research how alumni from your target programs leverage their degrees after graduation. Consider if their paths appeal to you.
- Admissions offices are available for questions if you were unable to obtain the information you need from websites, faculty and other sources.
Admission applications typically include:
- Scores from a Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Miller Analogies Test (MAT), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
- Grade point average (GPA)
- Personal statement
- Undergraduate research
- Letters of recommendation
- Admissions essay(s)
- Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
- Writing sample(s)
Common entrance exams include:
- GRE: The GRE is the most common standardized test and includes sections on Analysis of an Issue, Analysis of an Argument, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Plan to take the GRE at least 60 days before your applications are due.
- GMAT: The GMAT is commonly required for applications to graduate management programs, such as MBA programs, and contains four sections: analytical writing, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and integrated reasoning. Plan to take the GMAT at least 21 days before your applications are due.
- MCAT: The MCAT is specifically for medical school. It assesses Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
The time to take these exams is when you feel completely prepared. Take into account the time you will need to prepare balanced against your other academic responsibilities. Most scores are valid for five years.
Different programs will have different testing requirements, so be sure to research the specifics of your program. The Education Testing Service (ETS) is your main source for test registration and information.
Graduate School can represent a sizable financial investment. Be sure that you have investigated available resources to determine financing options that work for you. You may need to explore each program for research or teaching assistant positions and other resources, such as work-study, to subsidize your expenses. One appealing aspect of graduate programs here at Brandeis is that alumni may be eligible for a generous scholarship.
General Timeline for Preparation
Begin the application process at least one year before you hope to begin classes. This is a general guideline and should be modified according to each application deadline.9 months – 1 year before application deadline:
- Share your interest in graduate school with professor(s)/mentor(s) in your field to get advice and ideas.
- Research programs and consider how the program will advance your personal and professional goals. Discuss your shortlist with advisers and Brandeis faculty.
- Investigate alumni placement outcomes of your target programs. Reach out to alumni of your target programs to learn about their experiences.
- Determine if you need to take a standardized test as part of your application. Sign up for a test date and begin study preparation.
- Carefully review other application requirements and create a calendar for submitting materials by the program's deadline.
- Consider finances and research scholarship/grant/FAFSA options if needed.
- Make final decision on program(s) to which you will apply.
- Continue preparation for entrance exams if needed.
- Write drafts of your essays, resume/CV and any required writing samples.
- Request letters of recommendation.
- Complete all application forms. Begin working on financial aid and scholarship forms, including FAFSA, if needed.
- Confirm with recommenders that they have all of the information they need to write and submit their letters of recommendation. Be sure to provide them with the deadlines so they have ample time to write a strong recommendation
- Finalize all required written materials.
Application deadline and beyond:
- Submit applications and celebrate your accomplishment!
- Within two weeks of submission, verify with each school that your materials have been received and are complete.
- If needed, finish FAFSA forms when tax information is released.
- Keep writers of letters of recommendation advised when you are admitted.
- If you are waitlisted, reach out to schools every month or so and confirm your interest.
Check out helpful resources that will provide insight and advice about best practices and strategies for success as an underrepresented student pursuing a graduate degree.
The two essays most commonly associated with graduate school applications are the statement of purpose and the personal statement.
Learn more about finding and apply to international programs.
Prepare for a graduate school interview.
You have questions? We have answers to the most frequently asked questions about graduate school.
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