Graduate Admissions can be intimidating. Many schools will have more extensive requirements for graduate applicants than their undergraduate counterparts, and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what you need to send in to complete your application.
Here are FAQ’s about graduate admissions. You’ll notice a common theme here: Requirements for graduate admissions will vary widely between different schools and programs. When in doubt, call the colleges and universities and ask about their process and requirements.
1. Is it harder to get into graduate school than it was to get into my undergraduate program?
It depends. Where you are applying and the type of program you want can determine the level of competition for admissions. Some graduate programs, such as many doctorate programs in the arts and sciences, can be very competitive. Others, such as many MBA programs and certain healthcare Master’s degrees, might be open to anyone who qualifies.
Still others, such as some nursing programs, might not be especially competitive, but will involve often long waiting lists due to a shortage in available spots for students. You’ll need to speak with people at the programs to which you’re applying to get a better idea of the admissions picture.
2. Are graduate applications the same as undergraduate ones?
Students interesting in pursuing a graduate degree will encounter many of the same admissions requirements as those applying for undergraduate programs. For example, most graduate programs will require transcripts, application forms, and the FAFSA, just like undergraduate programs.
3. How is graduate school admissions different from undergraduate admissions?
Letters of recommendation, for example, might be optional for undergraduate admissions, but some graduate programs will require them. Work experience or personal statements may be more important for graduate applications than undergraduate applications, depending on the type of school and/or program.
4. Do I need to take a standardized test to get into graduate school?
Possibly. Many graduate programs will require applicants to have taken a standardized test. Again, depending on the type of school, students interested in an MBA, may need to take the GMAT to apply for admission. Other graduate level programs may require that students take the GRE-general exam. Of course, there are also many schools and programs which only require graduate applicants to hold a Bachelor’s degree.
5. Do I need to hold a particular license or certification to get into graduate school?
Again, the answer is that it depends on the program. Depending on what you are interested in studying, a certain certification or license might be necessary to enter a graduate program. If you are applying for an MBA, and you have already taken the GMAT, you are ready to apply. However, if you want to apply for a Master’s degree in Nursing, you will have to already hold an RN certification, and in many cases, a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
6. How can I find out more about graduate admissions?
As you’ve no doubt noticed, we keep saying “maybe,” and “it depends.” The truth of the matter is that each school, and often each program, will have its own application policies.
The most important thing is to speak with a representative from the admissions department at any program you are intending to apply to in order to find out that school’s individual application requirements. You should really never be afraid to pick up the phone. If you are unsure of which schools to speak with, try giving our counselors a call or simply email us and we can follow up with you. It’s totally free and our expert advisors will be glad to advise and help you.
7. This sounds complicated. How do I keep track of all the different requirements?
Take it one step at a time, and stay organized. After you’ve made a list of schools, call each one and check (or double-check) on their particular requirements. Chances are that if you’re applying to similar programs at a few schools, they will have similar applications.
Nevertheless, whether you are applying to one school or ten, you should keep a checklist for each school, so you can keep track of which aspects of the application are ready to go, and which still need to be taken care of. A good way to do this is the same method we recommend for undergraduate applications: get a big envelope for each school, and use a paper clip to attach to the front a checklist of everything you need to send them. As you put in items, check them off on the checklist.
Finally, do yourself a favor: get started on this process early. If you leave it to the last minute, you are far more likely to forget something.