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Tips & Hints

  • Register for the appropriate examinations. Check the registration deadlines in the application booklet.
  • Apply early. Admission and financial aid decisions are often made well in advance of stated university deadlines. Some departments in heavy demand close their application period as early as October. If you apply late your chances for admission, and certainly for financial aid, will be greatly reduced if not eliminated altogether.
  • Arrange to talk with an admission officer or head of the department, either in person or over the telephone, to discuss your questions about application procedures. You may ask him or her about the graduate program, admissions criteria, and the possibility of financial aid. You will not have your admission or financial aid confirmed during the interview, but you will obtain firsthand knowledge of the department and possibly some feeling as to whether you would be admitted. You also have the chance to make a face-to-face positive impression!
  • Call the department or graduate school and check on the status of your application. Well meaning professors frequently forget to write that reference letter; registrar’s offices can lose your transcript request. Such things happen all the time. As with a late application, an incomplete application will also reduce your chances for admission and financial aid.
  • Give careful thought to your statement of purpose. A good statement of purpose can sometimes make up for not so good grades.
  • Keep copies of all documents you submit for admission and financial aid. You may need them.
  • Choose a research area that you are interested in. However, still choose an advisor with whom you get along!
  • Choose an advisor with a board research interests.
  • Your advisor should be willing to help you get through in a timely manner, i.e., assist you with meeting the deadlines for preliminary exams, proposal preparation, and dissertation.
  • Attend research seminars offered at your university and annual meetings of professional organizations.
  • Participate in drafting grant proposals so you will know how to write successful ones.
  • Make an effort to present your work at departmental and professional meetings.

Ask current graduate students…

  • Do the students have enough time for a social life? Is the type of social life you desire acceptable?
  • What are the neighborhoods like? Do you like them?
  • What is the academic social environment like? For example, do students work together?
  • How well does the faculty treat graduate students?
  • Do graduate students have access to athletic and other university facilities?
  • Are the provisions for housing, health insurance, etc., adequate?
  • Is the atmosphere highly competitive?
  • Do most of the students like working with their research advisor?