Timeline for Applying to Graduate School

Here is a general timeline to help you plan for applying to graduate school. This process applies to beginning graduate school in the fall semester following graduation.

If you are applying to the University of Maryland, please be sure to read everything on the Graduate School website about the application process.

Summer Before Senior Year

  • Begin researching potential schools
  • Take a practice GRE test and register for GRE general test
  • Gather information from schools that interest you
  • Ask professors for recommendations or contacts at your prospective programs
  • Take GRE General test and have scores sent to your prospective schools
  • Carefully examine each of the program applications and note any questions or essay topics that will require your attention
  • Draft a statement of purpose
  • Consider which faculty members to ask for letters of recommendation


  • Finalize your list of prospective schools
  • Pick professor(s) who share your research interests from each program
  • Study their work to see how much it interests you
  • Contact your professors who are providing recommendations
  • Revise statements of purpose
    • Tailor each one by school and areas of research that you would pursue (use the information on your potential professor’s work if relevant)


  • Research sources of financial aid
  • Have a friend or writing aid proof-read your admissions essays


  • Finalize your admissions essay
  • Apply for fellowships and other sources of financial aid, as applicable


  • Submit applications (UMD’s priority deadline is February 1 and the final deadline is May 16)
    • NOTE: If you are an international student, the timeline may be different, be sure to contact the graduate admissions office for complete deadlines
  • Track to ensure applications are received and that schools have received your applications and supplementary materials


  • Fill out the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application


  • If possible, visit the schools that you were accepted to that are your top choices
  • Discuss acceptances and rejections with a faculty member or the career/graduate admissions counselor at your school
  • Notify the program of your acceptance
  • Notify programs that you are declining