Applying to Graduate School
The CNS Career Center can help you with your graduate school applications, including reviewing your resume/CV and personal statements.
Before pursuing additional education, ask yourself:
- Why do I want to go to graduate school?
- Do I need a graduate degree to further my career?
- Do I have the passion needed to engage in intensive study?
- What program will best fit my needs and interests?
- Should I develop more hands-on experience in my field before attending graduate school?
- Can I afford graduate school?
Don’t go to grad school just because you don’t know what else to do! If you are unclear about your options, make an appointment on Handshake to speak with a career advisor.
- Is Grad School Right for You? (CNS Career Development Handbook)
- Should I go to grad school? (Betterup.com)
Research Graduate and Professional Schools
Unlike when you applied as an undergraduate to UMass Amherst, there is no common application for graduate school. Individual colleges and universities, and even programs within the same college, have different application prerequisites, deadlines, and expectations for the application process. Therefore, it is important to do your own research on which programs best fit your career goals, desired location, cost limitations, and timeline.
- Talk with your academic advisor about programs they would recommend for you.
- UMass Amherst has many different graduate programs. Review them to see if any are a good match for your goals.
- Considering a graduate degree in a medicine or health care, such as medical, dental, optometry, osteopathy, or physician assistant? Work with UMass Amherst’s Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising Office early on in your college career.
Some resources as you research schools:
- The Graduate School Guide
- College Source Online (only available to UMass Amherst users connecting with OIT’s UMAccess)
- U.S. News: America’s Best Graduate Schools
- Peterson’s Graduate School Search
- Online PhD Program Information
- APA-Accredited Programs database of graduate schools in Psychology
- Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology
Stay organized while you are researching programs that are of interest to you. Consider creating a simple spreadsheet.
Personal statements are an important part of the graduate school application. This is your chance to share your story and the path that led you to apply to grad school.
Not sure where to start? Here are some guides that can help you in the process:
- What Makes a Great Personal Statement? (ProFellow.com)
- For pre-health personal statements, use the Preparing a Personal Statement Guide, written by the UMass Amherst Pre-Med/Pre-Health Advising Office.
Letters of Recommendation
Depending on the specific program(s) to which you’re applying, you’ll likely need two to four letters of recommendation. These letters are an important part of your grad school application, as they allow the admissions office to hear first-hand accounts of your academic abilities, personal qualities, and how others perceive you as a professional. Here are some guides that can help you ask for letters of recommendation:
- Letters of Recommendation (CNS Career Development Handbook)
- How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for Grad School
Graduate School Testing Preparation
Many graduate programs require standardized tests as part of the application process. Each school is different—be sure to research what is needed (or optional) for the individual schools where you plan to apply. This information is stated in each school’s graduate admissions requirements.
Some of these, such as the GRE, are offered regularly at testing centers across the United States and the globe. Others, like the MCAT, are only offered a certain number of times per year, and in specific locations. Once you determine the necessary test to take, allow yourself an adequate amount of time to study the course material, as you may have studied for the SAT/ACT in high school. If you are considering graduate school but aren’t sure, it is recommended to take the GRE exam as soon after your graduation as possible. Your GRE score is good for five years.
- Grad School Standardized Tests—an overview
- GRE-Graduate Record Examinations
- DAT-ADA Online: Dental Admission Testing Program
- GMAT- GMAC MBA Explorer
- LSAT-Law School Admission Council
- NCLEX- National Council of State Boards of Nursing
- MCAT- AAMC: Medical College Admission Test
It is often helpful to prepare for these tests ahead of time. While UMass Amherst does not endorse one test prep service over another, here are some resources that may be helpful to you in your research:
Graduate School Funding
Paying for graduate school can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Scholarships, loans, grants, assistantships, fellowships, and more are available. Find more about your funding options at the following resources:
The CNS Career Center can assist with your graduate school search. Make an appointment today via Handshake to meet one on one with a career advisor.