Applying to Graduate or Professional School

Why Attend Graduate School | Where to Attend | Financing Your Graduate Study | Application Procedures | Writing the Graduate Admissions Essay | Career Center Resources Available to Assist You

Deciding to attend graduate school is very much like writing an English Composition. You need to consider the who, what, where, when, why and how.  Below are some tips to get you starts and to explore in greater depth, consider attending the "Applying to Graduate/Professional School Seminar" workshop offered by the Career Office.

Why Attend Graduate School?

  • Determine your rationale
  • Discover how graduate study will help you develop your abilities and achieve your goals.
  • Decide if a graduate degree is a necessary prerequisite to entering your chosen career.
  • Evaluate your motivation to explore your specialty area in detail.
  • Become familiar with the careers held by graduates with degrees in your interest area.
  • Discuss your plans with a Career Center staff member, professors and alumni who either are pursuing or have completed graduate programs in your chosen field.


Where to attend?

There are many factors that go into choosing a university.

  • Select a school offering the specialization you seek.
  • The quality of the program ---is the program accredited and by whom?
  • The faculty/student ratio.
  • The average GPA and test scores of the last admitted class.
  • Whether the course offerings provide you the information and knowledge you want to gain.
  • Educational and professional background of the faculty.
  • The environment: What is the size? Urban or rural? Are there sufficient recreational possibilities?  How's the climate?
  • Opportunities to work or pursue an internship / practicum experience.
  • Strength of library.
  • Adequacy of lab or studio space and equipment.
  • Availability of career and student advisement services.


Financing Your Graduate Study

  • Look into financial aid opportunities - loan, assistantship, fellowship, scholarship, internship or research options.
  • Communicate directly with schools regarding the correct process and deadlines for applying and the correct forms for all types of aid. Each institution is somewhat unique in their financial aid packages.
  • Funds for further study are available. Search them out.


Application Procedures

  • Begin the process the summer before senior year.
  • Early applications can be an advantage because most schools have rolling admissions.
  • Log onto the schools’ websites to begin the application process
  • Take the required entrance examinations and visit schools.
  • Write your admissions essay and have it critiqued at the Career Center.
  • Obtain recommendations from faculty or professionals.
  • Submit completed applications early to mid-fall and follow-up with a phone call to ensure your application is complete.


Writing the Graduate Admissions Essay

Most graduate school and fellowship applications require a statement, in essay form, giving your reasons for wanting to attend graduate school.  Your essay must be a clear, concise, thoughtful statement.  It is the only indication, other than grades, test scores and recommendations, of your potential.  It can make the difference between you and an equally qualified candidate being admitted.  The following are tips to help you get starting writing your essay.

  • Description of the Development of Intellectual Interests during College: Discuss your purpose in going to graduate school and what contributions to your field you are interested in making. A sober, realistic and honest account should be presented. Don’t be overly idealistic.  Cite courses, professors, books, programs, discussions, etc… that have contributed to your intellectual growth.  Avoid being too general. Most graduate schools are concerned with specific interests, mainly those that have research potential.
  • Mention why you want to attend that particular graduate program, the research that is done there, a member of the faculty with whom you wish to work, the scope of the department, the programs offered—state why it appeals to your specific interests and needs. The school’s website is an excellent source of information.
  • Discuss college and outside activities that have been significant in your personal and intellectual growth, internships, summer or part-time jobs, undergraduate research, volunteer experience, etc.  State your eventual goal in terms of degree and career.
  • Enclose a particularly good paper, research project or research proposal which may aid a graduate admissions committee in evaluating you especially if your academic record is not as strong as might be required for the program.

Have your essay critiqued by Career Center staff by dropping it off at the Career Center, Lower Level of the Campus Center or by e-mailing to


Career Center Resources Available to Assist You

  • Peterson's Guides to Graduate Schools, U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School, The Official Guide to US Law Schools, The Official Guide to MBA Programs, Medical School Admissions Requirements, Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States
  • A Free Graduate School Guide to Schools East of the Mississippi, including California, and Hawaii)
  • How to Write a Winning Personal Statement, Writing Graduate Admission Essays.
  • GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT test information
  • Access to the Rutgers Graduate Funding database
  • Graduate / Professional School Advisors to help you with all of the above.