Depending on your goals, graduate school can open the door to a new and exciting career for you. Certain career fields will require additional education passed the Bachelor of Arts or Science degree, but it is a big decision! Weigh the value of a graduate degree in terms of earning potential, entry into a profession, advancement, and competitiveness as well as:
- Time commitment
- Financial considerations
- Personal adjustments while in school
- Your readiness to pursue graduate level work
Choosing a School
When choosing a school, research is key.
Number of faculty, credentials and reputation
Accreditation, course offerings, rate of completion, admissions policies, reputation and ranking
Facilities for students, cost of living, financial support, housing, and transportation
Satisfaction with program, gender and ethnic diversity, employment, and professional accomplishments of graduates
- Completed application and fee
- Official undergraduate transcript(s)
- Personal essay/statement of purpose
- The essay can be a challenging part of the application, but it is a key component to tell YOUR story to the admissions committee. We encourage you to review these resources for additional tips, and samples:
- Write a Graduate School Essay that Will Knock Their Socks Off
- Read our graduate school personal statement examples and in depth analysis of a sample personal statement for graduate school for tips on your own essay:
- 3 Successful Graduate School Personal Statement Examples | PrepScholor GREPrep
- Writing sample, portfolio, audition as requested
- Required entrance exam scores
- Letters of recommendations
NOTE: The Writing Center helps with writing personal statements.
Schools will designate which, if any, 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
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 entrance exams.
Investigate national scholarships.
Contact schools for application materials.
Check Mason's Graduate Admissions for local graduate admissions events.
Take required entrance exams.
Visit institutions of interest.
Write your application essays.
Check application deadlines and rolling admission policies.
Register for the national centralized services application or data assembly service your program uses, e.g. for medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry, or law school.
Obtain letters of recommendation.
Send in completed applications.
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
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 institutions that accepted you of your decision so that they may admit students on their waiting list.
Send thank you notes to people who wrote recommendation letters informing them of your success.