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Graduate School Advising

URGO provides support for Graduate and Professional School Applicants, including advising and application preparation support. Contact urgo@augsburg.edu for more information.

Graduate School Application Timeline

The Ideal Grad School Timeline

Two Years Before Enrollment

Decide on Degree Plan

Working with your major advisor, career counselors, and trusted mentors, choose a degree program that will prepare you to meet your career goals. Remember that graduate school is not the end of your path; it opens the way to the next steps and should be chosen to help you be successful well beyond the granting of the degree.

  • Find out whether you need a terminal degree (the highest degree available in your field) for your career plans
    • The terminal degree is often, but not always, a doctorate (PhD, EdD, JD, etc)
    • Many careers only require a master’s degree (MA, MS, MEd, MSW, MFA, etc)
  • Talk to people who have the job you want in ten years to find out what degree they sought and whether it was the right one
  • Answer the question: what do I hope to learn during my degree?
  • Consider whether research is an important part of your educational goals

Research Programs

Seek advice from faculty in your undergraduate program about what programs they know well and whether those programs meet your needs. Remember that even highly regarded programs might not serve you well if they do not specialize in areas that you want to gain mastery in. Reach out to members of faculty in programs that interest you and read publications in the field to narrow down what you would like to do. Remember that it is important to get along well with your potential advisor and to be able to trust them to complete paperwork on time.

Some considerations:

  • Program offerings
    • Degrees granted (doctorate and/or master’s)
    • Current curriculum and course offerings
    • Faculty Research and Research Assistantship availability
    • Teaching opportunities
  • Faculty
    • Academic advisor
    • Research advisor (if applicable)
    • Clinical supervisor (if applicable)
    • Administrative support
  • Applicant profile
    • GPA
      • Many schools will have a minimum GPA of 3.0, but not all
      • Grades after first-year of college or in major courses are often considered more heavily
    • GRE Scores/Other test scores
      • Some schools will post an average score of accepted students
      • High test scores can make up for a low GPA in some cases and vice versa
    • Previous experience
  • Funding
    • Fellowships/Grants/Scholarships
      • These funding sources provide funding for tuition, stipend, research materials, and/or study-related travel
      • There is no requirement to work outside of the graduate degree program but individual fellowships might come with other requirements (attending events, doing a presentation on research, etc)
    • Assistantships
      • Can be for research, teaching and/or administration
      • Work under the supervision of a member of faculty, usually from your department
      • Generally part time (around 20 hours/week) but some schools allow heavier loads
      • Pays tuition and stipend, often comes with other benefits such as health insurance
      • Usually intended to cover basic living expenses during graduate career
    • State Grants/Resident Tuition
    • Loans
      • Use with caution
  • Location
    • Access to institutions, clinical placements, materials, etc.
    • Proximity to family/community
    • Town size, climate, access to hobbies

Prepare for Graduate School

Ensure that you’re ready for your degree plan.

  • Seek experience in your field
  • Review pre-requisite materials and take any necessary courses
  • Read professional publications in the field
  • Network
  • Prepare for any tests, such as the GRE
  • Consider funding options (depending on degree type)

One Year Before Enrollment

GRE

Plan to take this test by the October before your application deadline if needed for your program. Visit our GRE Information and Resources page for more information about this exam.

Prepare Applications

In August/September prior to your application deadline:

  • Contact URGO for advising and support: urgo@augsburg.edu
  • Identify your schools of interest (5-7 depending on the field)
  • Contact faculty in the programs to which you will apply
  • Find out what your application requirements are
    • Contact the graduate admissions office at each school to confirm the materials required
  • Identify references and contact to update with your plans
  • For research fields: identify your research interests and possibly a project proposal depending on program requirements

In October/November prior to your application deadline:

  • Work on Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement, other required essays, and CV/resume
  • Follow-up with references about deadlines
  • Ensure all required materials have been proof-read and uploaded before hitting submit and completing the application

Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose

URGO will work with you closely to provide feedback on many drafts of your personal statement. Contact urgo@augsburg.edu for more information. You can also visit our Personal Statement page for preliminary writing advice and resources.

Writing Sample

This is usually a sample of writing from work you have done in the field to which you are applying. This should be professional quality writing, so you may need to take some time to edit an existing term paper or other assignment to meet the standards for your program. Work closely with a member of the Augsburg faculty in the field to which you are applying to prepare a strong sample.

Curriculum vitae (CV) or Resume

Different fields will have specific requirements for writing the CV or resume. URGO will work with you to provide feedback. Contact urgo@augsburg.edu for more information. You can also visit our CV/Resume page for advice and resources.

References

Different types of references might be requested depending on application requirements and the field. Be sure that you contact the correct type of reference for your application.

  • Academic (usually)
    • A professor or other college-level instructor who has worked closely with you in your field or a closely related one
    • This person should know you and your work well enough to speak very specifically about your performance and abilities
    • They should have an overall favorable impression of you, though they do not necessarily need to be someone that you got along with well on a personal level, so long as you made an outstanding impression academically
  • Supervisory (sometimes)
    • Someone who has worked closely with you in a professional or para-professional role as your supervisor or mentor
    • This person should know you and your work well enough to speak very specifically about your performance and abilities
  • Personal (rare)
    • Someone unrelated to you who can speak about your personal attributes as related to the program
    • Do not submit a personal reference unless requested

Application Deadlines

Most graduate school application deadlines are in December/January prior to enrollment. Some programs will have different dates, especially international and professional programs. In those cases, adjust the above timeline to accommodate.

Some programs have rolling admission, where applications are accepted as they come in and decisions are made to admit students to the next possible enrollment period. These programs may have other deadlines to watch for, including financial aid or for admittance to a particular term.

Interviews

Many programs will invite a cohort of potential students to interviews, either on campus or remotely. In some cases, these are also opportunities to visit campus, get to know faculty face-to-face and to meet potential classmates. Preparation for your interview will depend on your field, so contact your faculty advisor. URGO is also happy to offer general advising to help prepare for these interviews (contact urgo@augsburg.edu for more information).

Acceptance and Decision

When you start to receive your acceptances, it can be tempting to jump on the first school that accepts you. It is usually a good idea to wait a bit, however, so that you can compare the offers that you get from all acceptances, including financial offers. Generally, schools will not expect that you accept immediately, though many will have dates by which you need to have submitted your acceptance paperwork. Be aware of those dates and abide by them.

If you are waitlisted, you may still be offered a spot at your school of choice. Depending on the size of the program, some of your fellow applicants may have multiple offers and end up turning down their offered spot. The best thing to do in the meantime is wait.

Preparation for Program

Once you have been accepted, you may have additional preparation that you can do. Talk to your new graduate school advisor to find out if they have entrance exams or other skills that you should develop before enrolling.

Other Life

Maintain good grades

If you are still in your undergraduate program, it is important to maintain strong grades through the end of your degree, as some schools will ask for an updated transcript at the end of your final semester and may rescind offers if there has been poor performance.

Gain professional experience

Even if you do not get into the program you wanted, this experience can help you build up to the career that you want.

Build support system

Graduate school can be stressful, so it is important that you have a strong support network to help you through. This can mean maintaining family and friend relationships, establishing a good self-care practice, or ensuring that you have access to appropriate medical or social services.

Enrollment

Congratulations! You have started your graduate school journey.

Alternate Plans

Congratulations! Even if this is not the direction that you originally thought that you would go, sometimes the path that you walk while applying to graduate school can show you other ways of achieving your career goals. You will have developed a stronger sense of what you want to do and developed your writing skills as you went. You can still be proud of where you are.