You probably already know it, but deciding whether or not to apply for grad school is a big decision. We can help you decide whether it's a good idea for you, and we can also help you understand the process and prepare for graduate school.
Certain career fields will require additional education past the Bachelor of Arts or Science degree. Depending on your goals, graduate school can open the door to a new and exciting career for you.
Deciding on Graduate School
When deciding whether to go to graduate school, you should weigh the value of a graduate degree in terms of earning potential, entry into a profession, advancement, and competitiveness. You should also consider the following:
- Time commitment
- Financial considerations
- Personal adjustments while in school
- Your readiness to pursue graduate level work
Preparing for Graduate School
College to Graduate School (UNIV 421) is a 1 credit course for second semester juniors and seniors. This course focuses on student readiness for the transition to graduate or professional school. You will learn about application and testing options and strategies, interviewing skills, budgeting and financial planning and career development. Register for this class through Patriot Web.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a School
It's important to examine schools you're considering for grad school.
- Faculty: number of faculty, credentials and reputation.
- Academic program: accreditation, course offerings, rate of completion, admissions policies, reputation and ranking.
- Resources: facilities for students, cost of living, financial support, housing, and transportation.
- Students: satisfaction with program, gender and ethnic diversity, employment, and professional accomplishments of graduates.
The Application Process
When applying to graduate or professional schools, the way you present yourself and your achievements should be tailored to each specific program.
- Completed application
- Official undergraduate transcript(s)
- Personal essay/statement of purpose (Note: The George Mason University Writing Center helps with writing personal statements.)
- Required entrance examination scores
- Letters of recommendations
- Writing sample, portfolio, audition as requested
- Application fee
- Personal interview
Schools will designate which qualifying examinations are required for your chosen discipline. Plan to take the appropriate entrance examination during your junior year or at the latest during the fall of your senior year if you plan to go on to graduate school immediately after college.
- Graduate Records Exam (GRE)
- Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
- Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
- Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
- Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
- Dental Aptitude Test (DAT)
- Veterinary Aptitude Test (VAT)
- Optometry Admissions Test (OAT)
- Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)
- Teacher Testing (PRAXIS)
The Graduate School Process
Most people should start the process 16-24 months before their anticipated date of matriculation.
- Research areas of interest, institutions and programs
- Talk to your career counselor and professors about interests, schools and application requirements.
- Register and prepare for appropriate graduate admission tests
- Investigate national scholarships
- If appropriate, obtain letters of recommendations
- Contact schools for application materials.
- Check the George Mason University Graduate Admissions website for local graduate admissions events
- Take required admissions tests. The Graduate Record Examination is required for admission to most graduate schools
- Visit institutions of interest, if possible
- Write your application essay
- Check on application deadlines and rolling admission policies
- Register for the national centralized services application or data assembly service most programs use, if needed for medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry, or law school.
- Obtain letters of recommendation
- Take graduate admission tests if you have not already done so
- Send in completed applications.
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE, if required
- Check with all institutions before the deadline to make sure your file is complete.
- Visit the institutions that accept you
- Send a deposit to your institution of choice
- Notify other colleges and universities that accepted you of your decision so that they may admit students on their waiting list
- Send thank-you notes to people who wrote your recommendation letters, informing them of your success.