How to apply
After doing your research, you need to select the programs to which
you will actually apply. Most prospective graduate students will
apply to several programs, often ranging from the ideal program,
through good choices, to a "back-up" program (just in case). Applications
to graduate programs are often complicated, require fees, and have
specific deadlines. You need to begin the application process early
in the autumn before you plan to enter your graduate program.
forms and application fees
1. Write, call for, or pick
up the necessary application materials and forms prior to,
or early in the fall before you plan to begin your graduate studies.
There may be both an institutional and a program application required,
so ask. Graduate programs in some fields use centralized application
services that require a special form (common in law, medicine,
and dentistry) that may be due as early as October 1st. Applications
will have deadlines by which they must be received. Note to what
office each application, or part of an application, must be submitted.
Finally, find out about the application fees and make sure those
are submitted properly.
2. Complete the application
forms exactly as instructed. Each item is included for a reason
and referring the recipient to your resume or vita is not normally
3. Submit the application form
and all other materials by the deadline and to the proper office.
Make certain that the application fee is for the correct amount
and in the correct form.
Most graduate programs require
admission examinations and will consider your scores as part of their
evaluation of you. Like the written application materials, test scores
will have to be submitted and be available by a certain deadline.
Many of the graduate admission examinations are now available on
computer and may be scheduled for individual testing at an approved
1. Which test should you take?
This depends on the field you plan to enter. Tests include:
||Graduate Management Admission Test.
Most graduate programs in Businuess.
||Law School Admission Test. Law
||Medical College Admission Test.
Most medical schools.
||Dental Admissions Test. Most dental
||Graduate Record Examination. Most
||Miller Analogies Test. Used by
some graduate schools.
2. When should you take them?
The answer is early. Programs require test scores to consider
your application. Scores remain "current" for about five years, so
some students take the examination in their junior year and may again
take it in the fall of their senior year. Before deciding to do this,
however, find out how the programs to which you are applying regard
multiple scores. Do they take the most recent score or do they
average the scores? Computerized testing is now common--and
the only option available for some of the tests. Scores are immediately
known to you and can be sent wherever you request within a few weeks.
3. How should you prepare for
an admissions test? The jury is still out as to whether the
commercial test preparation courses are worth the investment. They
will acquaint you with the test format and suggest test strategies
that may prove useful. This information, however, may also be available
through the testing organization itself and through books and computer
test preparation materials that are available in bookstores. Often
university resource centers will have these available for use by
Most graduate and professional programs
will require you to obtain recommendations from people in a position
to speak to your qualifications in the field. They may specify the
types of recommendations that must be submitted (academic, personal,
employment). Some programs will ask that detailed forms be submitted,
others will ask for individualized letters. Though you may be asked
to submit these with other application materials, in most cases those
making the recommendations will be asked to mail them directly to
the program. In general you should:
1. Check the program's requirements
for recommendations before asking anyone. Know the type of recommendations
being requested and the format they must follow (form or letter).
2. Ask permission before listing
the name of anyone as a reference.
3. Send a written request for the
recommendation to each person being asked. At least two weeks before
the due date, provide each with:
- A copy of your resume/vita and any other information you feel
- The form or guidelines that outline exactly what is expected
in the recommendation,
- The deadline by which the recommendation must be received,
- Correctly addressed, stamped enveloped.
4. Send a thank you note to each person who takes the time to do
this for you.
Many graduate and professional programs
require applicants to submit a personal statement or other essay.
This may be requested to assess your interest and motivation in the
program or field. It may also be requested to assess your ability
to write clearly and correctly. You may be given detailed instructions
regarding its contents and length, or you may be free to write whatever
Often personal statements include:
- What is special about you?
- When or how you became interested in the field?
- What have you learned from experiences related to the field
(employment, volunteer activities, research)?
- Your career goals?
- Explanations of gaps or peculiarities in you academic record.
- If you have overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships.
- What personal characteristics (integrity, persistence) or special
skills (leadership, writing) do you have that would enhance your
prospects for success in this program or field?
- Why you are interested in that particular program?
- Anything else that you feel makes you a strong applicant.
The resume or curriculum vita
Graduate and professional programs
may require you to submit a resume or curriculum vita addressing
your qualifications for the program. Though similar in many regards,
the curriculum vita is usually more detailed and focused on scholarly
accomplishments (research, publications, presentations). In either
case, the information contained should be organized to support your
application. FSU's Career Center
help you develop an effective resume or vita. There are also numerous
resources available in print format or over the internet.
Many, though not all, graduate
and professional programs require a personal interview as part of
the application process. If not required, you may find an interview
to be a useful way for you to determine if a program would be a good
choice for you.
If an interview is required you
should take time to prepare yourself well. You should do as much
research about the program, its faculty, and the institution as possible.
You should be able to speak about yourself in relationship to the
program and field, why you are interested in that particular program,
and your future goals as they relate to completion of the program.
In most interviews the applicant will have an opportunity to ask
questions. These should address information that will help you assess
the suitability of the program for you. You should not ask questions
that are already answered in program literature.
Look at the items under "Personal
Statement" to get an idea of the questions you may be asked.