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Applying to Graduate School Timeline


  • Identify your areas of interest, then research various institutions, specific programs, degrees, and faculty.
  • Review eligibility and admission requirements.
  • Determine the college features you value, such as size, location, type of institution, extracurricular activities, costs, potential for financial aid, social opportunities, political climate, and cultural environment, in addition to the strength of their academic programs.
  • Research the surrounding community including housing options, transportation, and other services that may be important to you.
  • Investigate financial aid opportunities including assistantships, scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans. 
  • Visit the campuses of your top programs. Meet with faculty and students.

15 months before starting graduate school

  • Begin preparing for graduate admissions tests (such as the GRE or GMAT).
  • Familiarize yourself with all applications and deadlines for graduate schools to which you will apply. Note: Funding deadlines and application deadlines may be different.
  • Check on application deadlines and rolling admissions policies. Deadlines range from August (before your senior year) to late spring or summer (after your senior year). Most deadlines for fall enrollment are between January and March.
  • For medical, dental, osteopathy, or law school, you may need to register for the national application or data assembly service.
  • Narrow your list of potential programs to 3-5.


  • Request transcripts from your current or most recent institution/school(s).
  • Obtain letters of recommendation well in advance of application deadline dates. Provide the instructions for submitting letters to your recommenders.
  • Take graduate admissions tests if you haven't already done so. Remember that it can take several weeks for your scores to be sent to institutions, so it’s best to take tests well in advance of the application deadline.
  • Finalize your statement of purpose or personal statement (if needed). You can utilize the OU Writing Center for feedback on these documents.
  • Prepare other materials (e.g., resume, writing sample).
  • Submit completed applications. Submit applications early when possible.
  • Apply for national graduate fellowships.
  • Check with all institutions before the deadline to ensure your file is complete. 


  • Communicate with department faculty at the graduate schools to which you have applied. 
  • Inquire about the status of your graduate application.
  • Visit the institutions that accept you. 
  • Meet with faculty and students. 
  • Learn about housing, transportation, and community amenities.
  • Notify all colleges and universities that accepted you of your decision.
  • Notify other colleges and financial aid providers if you are declining their offers.
  • Make plans to move to your new school: housing, banking, etc.
  • Register for Graduate and Professional School Financial Aid Service (GAPSFAS), if required.