Whether you’re pursuing a master’s, Ph.D., or professional program, we aim to demystify the program application process. The information below will help you discover valuable insights, practical tips, and expert advice on program selection, personal statements, recommendations, standardized tests, and financial aid.

Graduate school application process

Follow the step-by-step application process below to understand the factors and considerations of identifying and then applying to the right graduate school program.

  1. Initial research and self-assessment
    Reflect on your academic and career goals. What do you want to achieve with a graduate degree? Consider the type of degree (e.g., Master’s, Ph.D., professional degree) that best suits your aspirations. Explore universities and programs that offer your chosen field of study. Explore what UW alumni have done and what degrees they’ve obtained.  Check the profiles of UW alumni by searching graduate programs on LinkedIn.
  2. Create a list of potential programs
    Make a comprehensive list of potential graduate programs you’re interested in. Take note of each program’s specific admission requirements, including prerequisites and deadlines. Find Faculty Advisors that fit your goals and interests. Consider where your program is located, what job, internship, and career opportunities will be available in that area during and after the program.
  3. Reach out to program contacts
    Take time to connect with contacts at your programs of interest. This could be a staff advisor, faculty member, or other campus contact. Use this opportunity to ask questions about the program, requirements, outcomes for graduates, what it’s like to live there, etc. For research-focused programs, connect with your potential Faculty Advisor to ensure your research interests align. Ask about placement and funding availability.
  4. Prepare application Materials
    Request strong letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can attest to your qualifications and potential. Update your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) to include your latest academic and professional experiences. Craft a well-written personal statement. Request official transcripts from all colleges and universities you’ve attended.
  5. Financial planning
    Research and apply for financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, or loans. Be aware of scholarship and financial aid application deadlines and submit the necessary paperwork.
  6. Submit applications
    Ensure all application materials, including recommendation letters, transcripts, and standardized test scores are sent to the universities on time and properly through any online portal. Track your application status through the university’s online portal. Keep records of submission confirmations and application reference numbers.
  7. Interviews and campus visits
    If invited, participate in interviews with program faculty or administrators. Visit campuses if possible to gain a better understanding of the environment and meet with faculty and current students.
  8. Decision-making
    Once admission offers start coming in, evaluate each offer in terms of funding, location, research opportunities, and program fit. Compare funding packages, stipends, and financial aid options. Make an informed decision about which program to accept.
  9. Notify programs of your decision
    Notify your chosen program of your decision and get a confirmation of acceptance. Inform the programs you won’t be attending about your decision to decline their offers. This allows them to offer your spot to another applicant.
  10. Celebrate and prepare
    Complete any additional requirements, such as health records or housing applications. Plan your relocation and make travel arrangements if needed. Maintain a comprehensive record of important dates, deadlines, and all communications with universities.

Graduate school application support

Additional resources

Below are additional external resources that can help guide you through the preparation and application process:

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