Organizing your Graduate School Search

If you are considering going to graduate school, you’ve probably realized one important component about how graduate school applications differ from undergraduate applications; there is no graduate school common app!

Without the commonalities of the common app, graduate school applications can be a lengthy and arduous process.  If you’re still considering whether graduate school is right for you, I encourage you to check out this handout.

Once you’ve decided that graduate school is a necessary and timely step in furthering your career development, it’s time to start exploring programs.  For this you want to gather some key data about the programs.  This information is going to vary depending upon the type of program you’re applying for so I’m including a sample generic tracking sheet in excel and an example of a tailored version based on what I considered in my applications to higher education master’s degree programs.

Here’s a sample graduate school research guide:
grad school search

Attached HERE is a blank version with potential categories you can download in Google Drive and use in organizing your search.

Once you’ve narrowed down schools and planned out your timeline (See this helpful handout), it’s time to gather all of your materialsCreating separate folders for each school can help keep you organized.

grad folders

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Pay attention to whether each of your applications requires materials be sent online, in the mail, or a combination of both.  When I applied to graduate schools, I provided all of my references with an addressed and stamped envelope to mail their letter of recommendations. Don’t forget to send your references a hand written thank you note!

Applying to graduate school can be an overwhelming and exciting process.  By keeping organized, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the joys of planning the next step in your future career while minimizing the stress that comes with applications.  For more tips on managing your personal graduate school applications, or for résumé or personal statement critiques, call the Center for Career Development at 860-486-3013.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt