Graduate School and Seminary Fair
Attend the annual fall fair as an opportunity to learn about the graduate school and seminary programs and meet with admissions staff.
Graduate School Workshops
Attend annual fall workshops focused on submitting a competitive application, application timeline, personal statement, entrance exams, etc.
Application Process and Timeline
Follow the general timeline below to keep yourself on track. Time frames are approximate: Check the deadlines for your schools of interest and adjust accordingly.
Junior Year (Fall)
Many graduate schools look at applicants’ grades from the last two years of undergraduate courses. If your GPA is an issue, it’s time to pull your grades up.
Junior Year (Spring)
Decide which fields interest you, then start looking for programs and schools that match your interests.
As part of your research, investigate what kind of financial aid options will be available to you at the various institutions, including grants, loans, fellowships, and assistantships. This will help you weed out programs that you can’t pursue because they don’t offer the level of support you need.
Schedule your entrance exams. You may want to take these exams in the spring of your junior year so you get them out of the way (and have time to retake them if necessary) and can spend the fall filling out your applications and working on your writing samples.
Summer Before Senior Year
Most graduate schools look for well-rounded individuals with good grades and some relevant work experience on their resumes. An internship can be an excellent way to gain some professional experience in your chosen field. In some fields, volunteer experiences are also helpful—provided they give you relevant experience and are not simply “envelope stuffing” exercises. Stop in at your college’s career center for help in identifying internship and volunteer opportunities.
Senior Year (Fall)
Get your transcripts from all your post-secondary education, including an up-to-date transcript for your current institution. Be prepared to have transcripts from study-abroad and other institutions that transferred credits.
Line up references and provide them with the information they need to write a complete reference.
Schedule your entrance exams. If you weren’t happy with your scores or decided to give yourself more time to prepare, you can take your entrance exams in the fall. (Some exams offer multiple test dates in the fall, enabling you to retake your exams again if necessary.)
Fill out your applications. Take your time, read directions carefully, and check and re-check your applications to ensure they are complete and error-free. Have someone proofread your applications.
Senior Year (Mid-Term Break/January)
Submit your applications.
Senior Year (Spring)
This is when acceptance letters begin to arrive. If you have applied to and been accepted at multiple schools, you may want to pay another visit to your top choices. Talk about your plans with a trusted faculty member or a career counselor at your undergraduate institution.
Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if you plan to apply for financial aid. (You’ll need your prior year’s income tax return to complete this form.)
Once you make your decision, notify the school of your acceptance. As a courtesy, tell the other schools that you are declining their offers.
If you’ll be relocating for graduate school, start researching housing options in your new location. Can you afford to live alone, or will you need to find a roommate? Does the school offer assistance with housing or pairing graduate students as roommates? If so, call on those resources.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Research Programs and Schools
Use the research resources below to identify programs best suited for your interests, goals, and parameters.
Attend Graduate School and Seminary Fair
Annual recruitment fair held each fall. Opportunity to learn about the academic programs leading and meet with admissions staff.
General Search Engines:
Graduate and professional school search; includes virtual campus tours and links for instant inquiry and online applications.
A comprehensive online directory of graduate programs, both U.S. and international.
Finding Specific Types of Programs:
- Business Schools
- International Relations
- Law Schools
- Medical Schools
- Public Policy, Affairs, Administration
- Seminary, Divinity, and Theological Studies
Program Ranking Resources:
- U.S. News and World Report Graduate School Rankings
- The Top American Research Universities
- National Doctoral Program Survey
- Vault Ranking for Business Schools
Additional Research Steps
- View individual websites for programs of interest. Gather specific information related to each school’s admission criteria.
- Academic departments on campus and national associations also house specialized materials for graduate and professional programs.
- Ask faculty or alumni for advice and information on individual programs and the qualifications required.
- Speak with graduate students studying in your field. Gain valuable advice, especially on the strengths and weaknesses of their particular program. Each program should be able to supply you with current students’ contact information.
- Speak with faculty members in person, or by phone or email.
Entrance Exams and Tests
Graduate programs typically require an admission test as part of the application process. Some require additional subject tests. Typically, 3 months to 1 year is needed to prepare for and take the tests needed for admission.
Test Prep Courses Information
Career Services has information on preparatory courses and discounts from Kaplan Test Prep and the Princeton Review
Test Prep Books
Career Services provides free study books for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, CSET, CBEST, MCAT & more! Visit our office in the Scott Academic Center, 2nd Floor to check one out. Provided by Kaplan and the Princeton Review.
Kaplan Test Prep offers test preparation, as does the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education.
The Princeton Review has free and fee-based test-prep resources for the GRE, GMAT and LSAT with both online and in-person instruction options. The company also provides free practice tests for the GRE, GMAT AND LSAT. More GRE-specific preparation information can be found at this page on the ETS website.
Some of the specific exam sites, listed below, also offer test preparation, so be sure to check out these websites.
|California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)||www.cbest.nesinc.com|
|Certified Public Accountants Exam||www.cpa-exam.org|
|Dental Aptitude Test (DAT)||www.ada.org|
|Graduate Record Exam (GRE)||www.gre.org|
|Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)||www.gmac.org|
|Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)||www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/about-the-lsat|
|Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)||www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/about/|
|Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)||www.opted.org|
|Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)||www.pharmacyexam.com|
|Veterinary College Admissions Test (VCAT)||portal.vmcas.org|
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Contact Information
- Educational History
- Professional Experience
- Volunteer work, Paid experience, Practicum, Internships, Field Work, Leadership
- Teaching Experience
- Honors, Awards, and Memberships
- Professional Associations, clubs, leadership roles
- Tailor to each position/program
- “Save As” from “Master Version”
- Job description/program description
- Transferable skills
- Key words
- Active Language
- Action verbs
- Bullet points
- White space
- Avoid first person
- Identify accomplishments
- Format wisely
- Avoid Word or online templates
Most graduate and professional programs have a set of questions prepared for you to respond to in the form of an essay called a personal statement or statement of purpose.
- Your essay should be a clear and succinct statement demonstrating that you have a clearly defined career goals for your future and enthusiasm for the field.
- Your essay should reflect strong writing abilities, including clarity, focus, and depth of thinking.
Letters of Recommendation
Schedule Career Advising
Career Services provides free advising for Vanguard University students and alumni. We are available to assist with determining which graduate and professional programs are best suited for your needs, provide feedback on application documents, and conduct mock interviews.
Schedule your appointment today.