Interested in finding a Graduate Program and pursuing your studies in the United States? Check out Peterson's.com for an excellent search of programs by location, price, and program. Prospects has a similar service for universities in the United Kingdom.
Also, talk to your professors – get their suggestions on the best graduate programs for your specialty, and get their advice on making your application stand out.
You should start looking into programs as soon as you decide you want to go to grad school, and at least a year before the semester that you would like to enroll.
Timeline for Applying to Schools
Once you've found some programs that look interesting, its time to start the application process! Most deadlines for schools in the United States are in December and January, depending on the program, and often late submissions are not considered. Deadlines for programs in the UK tend to be slightly later but are on a rolling admissions basis, so the earlier to submit your application, the earlier you will receive a response.
9 Months - 1 Year before application deadline:
Explore your options for programs and decide which to apply to. Carefully check all of the admissions requirements for each university. Study for entrance exams, if your application requires them.
3-6 Months before application deadline:
Take entrance exams, if necessary. Begin looking into financial aid, if necessary.
1-3 Months before application deadline:
Contact professors and other people that you would like to write letters of recommendation. Request official transcript. Begin working on your statement of purpose and resume.
1 Week - 1 Month before application deadline:
Submit all requirements to universities. Contact all recommenders, if they haven't yet submitted their letters. Don't forget to check the universities' online systems to make sure that your application is complete!
A decision on your application should be available 2-3 months after you submit your application.
Most schools will require a "complete" application to include some or all of the following:
- Entrance exam scores
- Official transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose
- Resume or CV
- An official information form specific to the university.
Often most of these can be completed through an online system. Check each university's website for details.
For application to graduate programs in the U.S., you will most likely need to take the GRE - its like the SATs but for grad school. Some schools will require subject tests in addition to the general test, so check the requirements of your program carefully. Students applying to MBA programs will need to take the GMAT instead. Some programs in the UK require these tests as well - not many but it is worth checking!
- Information about the GRE - everything from registration information to study tips - can be found here.
- Information about the GMAT is available here.
You must submit transcripts from each undergraduate institution that you have attended. Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar transcripts can be obtained by contacting Enrollment Services Specialist Bianca Van Zundert at email@example.com. She can return the transcripts to you or mail them directly to the university's graduate admissions office, if you provide her with a complete address. All bills must be paid in order for transcripts to be sent.
Letters of Recommendation
Most schools will require 2-3 letters of recommendation from people who can vouch for your academic success and your qualifications to continue your studies. Check the requirements with each of the universities that you are applying to, but most require that at least two of the letters be from professors or someone familiar with your academic qualifications. A third letter from a supervisor or adviser is often acceptable in order to speak to your professional qualifications, but letters should not be written by family, friends, or anyone else that knows you on a strictly personal level. Make sure you ask your recommenders for their support well in advance of the deadline, to give them plenty of time to write and submit their letters.
Statement of Purpose
The Statement of Purpose is your chance to tell the admissions committee why you want to study in their program. It should convey your interests in the field that you have chosen, as well as their specific program, and also give them an insight into your qualifications and personality.
You should have a number of people review it, such as professors, family, peers, or other people who are familiar with your career goals. The Office of Professional Development staff are also available to give you feedback on these essays.
Financing your graduate studies can be challenging, especially for international students. For US citizens interested in studying in the US, information on government financial aid is available at the FAFSA website. This Financial Aid website can help you to navigate other available assistance programs.
For international students, the website eduPASS has information about all aspects of studying in the US, including sections on Financial Aid and Scholarships for international students.