Graduate School Application Timeline

Exploring and applying to graduate school can have many moving parts. Here is a timeline for important information-gathering and decision-making landmarks to be aware of throughout the process.

Two Years Prior to Application Year: 

  • Explore Graduate School.
  • Begin researching schools. Consider programs, faculty research, and locations of interest.
  • Plan for cost of applying. Determine application and standardized test fees, the cost of study materials, and funds that may be needed for future campus visits.

One Year Prior to Application Year:

  • Begin or continue researching programs.
  • Begin researching scholarships and fellowships to help you pay for school.
  • Get federal and institutional financial aid information.
  • Sign up for and begin reviewing for standardized tests.
  • Attend related events offered by CAPD and graduate school information sessions.

Application Year:


  • Check to see if applications have posted on program websites.


  • Develop your personal timeline for applying. Know the deadlines!
  • Request letters of recommendation.
  • Prepare your resume. Have it reviewed by a Career Advising & Professional Development counselor.
  • Begin or continue to collect information about national and school-based fellowship programs, and their required application materials.


  • Take the standardized test required for your program if you haven't already.
  • Write your statement of purpose and have it reviewed.
  • Request official transcripts.
  • Complete financial aid and scholarship forms.
  • Think about alternatives to graduate school.


  • Finalize all application materials.
  • Contact your recommenders and kindly remind them of the deadlines for your application.
  • Mail/submit your application materials.
  • Follow-up and make sure that each school has received your application materials and that it is complete.

Interviews and Post-Application Period:


  • Prepare for any interviews you may have. Arrange a CAPD mock interview for practice.
  • Complete and mail your financial aid forms (both federal and institutional).
  • Arrange to visit each school you have been admitted to.


  • Figure out your financial situation. This will help you decide where you will go to school.
  • Accept and decline offers in writing and/or by phone as soon as you have made a decision.
  • Write a note to your recommenders, thanking them and letting them know where you will be next year!