Graduate school is an opportunity to gain specialized knowledge and skills in a particular discipline. The application process for graduate school can be complex, so it is important to conduct effective research regarding your options and allow time to prepare all materials. The Student Professional Development Center provides support to students throughout the graduate school process, from exploring program options to applying and interviewing for opportunities. Log into the Elon Job Network EJN to schedule an appointment.
Should I apply?
Going to graduate school is a big decision—one that should not be made lightly and should be made for the right reasons. Your decision should be based on many things, the most important of which is good research. If you are still in the “thinking about it” stages, in addition to gathering all the information you can, consider meeting with your academic advisor or with an advisor in the SPDC.
Successfully applying to graduate school takes time and preparation. You should begin the graduate school process during their junior year in order to consider best programs to apply to, prepare for taking admissions exams, complete applications, write personal statements, and obtain references.
Most graduate and professional programs require applicants to submit test scores from at least one graduate admission test as part of the application packet. Be sure to check the specific requirements of each school you’re considering, as the particular test (or tests) you will need to take may vary among them.
In addition to your admissions test scores, references, and completed graduate school application, you’ll be asked to submit a resume or CV and a personal statement.
Graduate School Letters of Recommendation
Almost every graduate program will ask for two to four letters of recommendation. Advice that sometimes comes too late to undergraduate students is to start planning for this long before your senior year! It is not uncommon for a professor to require a student to have been in at least two classes of theirs before he or she feels comfortable writing a letter of recommendation. And don’t forget—you’ll need more than one person to write for you! So planning early is important.
Not all graduate programs require interviews. If you are applying to multiple programs, expect to participate in at least one interview.
If you are asked to come for an interview, this indicates that the graduate program is seriously interested in you. While the interview itself is just one part of the application process, it can be the deciding factor when admissions committees are making acceptance decisions. Therefore, it is extremely important to treat your graduate school interview just as you would a professional job interview. Dress and act professionally, and be prepared.
Graduate school interview formats will vary. They can be one-on-one with a faculty member, panel interviews, telephone interviews, or multiple interviews with any combination of formats. Some interviews may be full weekend events with faculty, current students, and other applicants. Typically, you will have a chance to talk informally with current students, faculty members, and other applicants as well. However, no matter what type of format, you should always prepare ahead of time.
Graduate programs offer funding opportunities that are usually not available to undergraduates. The first step toward investigating (and acquiring) assistance is to understand the different forms of financial aid available to graduate students.
Research international and industry-specific programs. Departments and faculty across campus offer discipline-specific graduate school program information and are a wonderful resource for students considering graduate school.