Graduate school is an important step when you want to advance your career, as is planning for your graduate school application.

Strengthen Your Graduate School Application

The perfect graduate school application requires a delicate balance. You want to stand out among a sea of other qualified applicants, and you also want to sound professional. This can seem like a monumental task. But, if you take your time and think things through, you have a good chance at success. Improve your application with these tips:

Visualize Your Mission

Before diving in, think about why you’re applying for this specific degree. Where would you like your career path to go? How does your portfolio of work back this up? Form a cohesive brand and mission with this information. Then, allow your entire application to reflect your personal brand and career goals.

Create Connections

While you’re an undergrad, you should participate in class and visit your professors during office hours. This will help create a professional relationship. Also, maintain meaningful connections with professors at your undergraduate institution. They can provide insight into graduate programs and schools in your field. When it comes time to ask for recommendations for your graduate school applications, you’ll have industry professionals who can speak to your character and skill level.

Additionally, contact faculty and staff at your desired programs and ask questions. Inquire about research in your field that interests you. You truly never know where networking could take you.

Plan Ahead

Finding the right program for you and forming a suitable application around it takes time and strategic planning. In the summer before your senior year as an undergrad:

  • Start forming your personal statement.
  • Explore your various options for grad school. Plan the standardized tests you should take.
  • Ensure that your transcripts are up to date.
  • Request letters of recommendation and collect application materials in September for Fall admission.
  • Re-evaluate and finish applications in October for rolling admission or early due dates.
  • In November, you should request transcripts and turn in applications for schools with December and January deadlines.
  • Throughout February and March, you will receive admission letters, and should take advantage of interview opportunities. This is also a good time to coordinate visits to schools and meetings with important faculty.

planning for graduate school application

 

The Essay

The essay portion of the graduate school application is an opportunity for you to make a case for yourself. You get to show that you are a passionate, qualified individual. Firstly, relate your strengths to the school and the specific program that you are applying to. Why do you want to attend this school? How can you improve this institution? Secondly, discuss specific research that you are interested in at this program.

Begin your essay with a gripping fact, story, or insight. In your concluding paragraph, discuss how you will be an asset to this program. End with a firm concluding statement. When in doubt, keep it as brief as possible and remove phrases that do not support your personal statement. Use your words meaningfully. You should leave your reader with a clear picture of your overall career vision.

Showcase Your Strong Academic Background

This isn’t the time to be humble about your achievements. Take pride in the projects and research that you have done.  Again, relate this back to your career vision and fit it into how you would succeed in the particular graduate program.

two people editing an application

Proofread, Revise, Repeat

Hand your application materials to trusted friends or professors and ask for critique. Many undergraduate institutions offer career counselors and writing centers that can offer you great advice on your application. Basically, use all of the advice you receive to strengthen your graduate school application. Finally, revise your application until you feel that it is an accurate representation of who you are, free of any grammar or spelling errors.


UMBC’s Office of Professional Programs offers a variety of acclaimed master’s degree and certificate programs. These include Biotechnology, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Engineering Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership, Geographic Information Systems, Health IT, I/O Psychology, Integrated Product Development and Manufacturing, Project Management, Systems Engineering, and Technical Management.

With convenient online programs and locations near Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C., UMBC is focused on helping professionals gain industry insight and the latest skills needed to succeed. Apply now.

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