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Graduate Schools Guide

Taking it to the
Next Level

Navigating the next step in your academic career.

Interested in starting a journey to grad school, but not sure where to begin? Let us be your guide. We can help you decide whether grad school is right for you, which school to attend, and how to get there.

Download the Guide PDF

UW-Green Bay Business Master's Graduate receiving robes

Deciding If You Should Attend Grad School

Before applying for further study, be aware of the working conditions, job prospects and physical and mental requirements of your field. The more immediate demands of the components of a graduate school experience, research, course work, papers, teaching, etc., must also be considered. By assessing your interests, goals, and skills, you can make an informed decision about pursuing a graduate degree.

  • What do I want to accomplish in my lifetime?
  • Is graduate study necessary for me to achieve my career goals?
  • Do I have the interest and abilities to be successful in a graduate program?
  • What type of value do I place on attaining a graduate degree?
  • Am I mentally and physically prepared for a long-term academic commitment?
  • At the present time, do I have other needs that conflict with pursuing a graduate degree?
  • Do I have enough information about this career field to determine if I want to make a long-term commitment of pursuing a graduate degree?
  • Can I realistically invest the time and money required to pursue another academic degree?

The Application Process

In some cases, you may complete two applications for an institution: one application for the specific academic program and one application to the Graduate School at the institution in question. Always keep in mind the following requirements associated with the application process.

Application Forms

  • Follow instructions carefully while completing all requested information.
  • Tailor your communication to the specific aspects of the graduate program.
  • Ensure the forms are neat and attractive in appearance.
  • Include all requested documents and materials: resume, fees, autobiographies, etc. It is recommended to mail all application materials by registered or return receipt requested mail for documentation purposes.
  • Always make copies for your records before sending.

Reference Letters

  • Select individuals who know you well enough to write detailed letters on your behalf.
  • When requesting a letter of recommendation or reference, be specific of your goals and purpose. You can even meet with the reference writer to discuss your goals and submit a resume and/or transcript for their review.
  • Use institutional forms if provided by the graduate school and provide the recommender with a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • Allow the recommender time to complete your letter and always follow up to insure completion.
  • Confidential vs. non-confidential letters: you will have to make this decision. Many schools require the confidential format, and these letters tend to carry more "weight".


Allow adequate time for the Registrar’s Office to process your transcript. View your college/university website to view options, timing and costs prior to submitting a request.

UW-Green Bay TranscriptsTranscripts 

Essay or Personal Statement

  • Create and develop your statement based on what the reader wants to know.
  • Organize the statement to be clear, specific, detailed and concise.
  • Think of your response in terms of how your skills and goals match the characteristics and opportunities of the graduate program/school.
  • Demonstrate your written communication skills, motivation, energy level, creativity, commitment and depth of response.
  • Invite critiques by faculty and Career Planning staff members for review.
  • Check out Career Planning' information about writing personal statements.


  • Some programs may require an interview as part of the admissions selection process. This can be helpful, especially if you feel your GPA, application or written statement might not best represent your capabilities.
  • As with any interview, you’ll want to be prepared and focused. Express your goals, why you are seeking admission to this particular program and what you can contribute to the program.
  • If you have concerns about interviewing, you may want to participate in a mock interview with Career Planning.

Additional Credentials

Ensure proper provisions for test score reporting, personal interviews, and other requested material.

Graduate Admission

Preparation and planning will be a key to your success in effectively meeting graduate admissions deadlines. Research and discover the specific time requirements for submitting applications, test scores, financial aid information and other related material. Develop a checklist of requirements noting all pertinent deadlines (refer to the "Application Checklist" at the conclusion of the handout).

Entrance Exams (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.)

Some programs may require the general and subject GRE tests and/or multiple testing. Be sure to determine test requirements for each grad school you're considering.

  • Plan to register for the test at least six weeks before the test date to insure proper preparation, minimal costs and availability.
  • Study and prepare to take the test(s). Use test preparation study books and resource guides to improve test scoring potential.
  • Take these tests early. Then, you have time to re-take them if necessary. This also provides adequate time for score reporting.
ExamEntrance Exam Name
DATDental Admissions Test
GMATGraduate Management Admissions Test via
GREGraduate Record Exam
LSATLaw School Admissions Test
MCATMedical College Admission Test
OATOptometry Admissions Test
PCATPharmacy College Admission Test
TOEFLTest of English as a Foreign Language

Test Preparation Resources

  • LearningExpress Library is a collection of web-based test preparation tools and skill-building materials which includes practice tests and materials for the PRAXIS, LSAT, MCAT exams and more. To Access - view the UW-Green Bay Cofrin Library's A-Z Database list, and select LearningExpress Library. Questions about accessing this resource? Please contact the Library Staff.
  • Cambridge LSAT: Download Official LSAT Prep Tests.
  • Educational Testing Service: Coordinates testing of GRE, PRAXIS, TOEFL and more.
  • Kaplan: View sample tests, conduct a crash course test preparation, and get tips on applying for and selecting graduate schools.
  • Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep: Free resource in collaboration with LSAC.
  • Tutorials, practice questions, practice tests, and vocabulary reviews.
  • Princeton Review: Find courses and tutors to prepare for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT and more.
  • TestMasters: Prep courses for LSAT, GRE and GMAT.
  • Test Prep Review: Links to practice tests for a range of exams including GRE, LSAT, OAT and PCAT.


  • Note the specific deadline and due date of the comprehensive application package (all admissions requirements).
  • Early application will pay off, especially when programs are offering rolling admissions and awarding financial aid packages.

Financial Aid

Financial aid deadlines are usually earlier than the comprehensive application materials. Many programs will not communicate these deadlines without your assertive inquiry.

Financing Your Graduate Education:

In addition to financial aid, you may need to seek other funding sources like scholarships, fellowships, or private loans.

Graduate School Application Timeline

Researching and applying to graduate schools is a time-consuming process, especially while still completing your undergraduate education. The timeline below is generalized, but it can help give you a quick overview of the necessary steps for applying to grad school.

Junior Year, Fall & Spring

  • Research areas of interests, institutions and programs.
  • Consult your professors for their expertise.
  • Talk to advisors about application requirements.
  • Get information about appropriate graduate admission tests. Register and prepare if appropriate (You may choose to take exams during the spring or summer of your Junior year or during the fall of your Senior year.)

Junior Year, Summer

  • Search for or request application materials, school catalogues and financial aid information from selected schools.
  • Visit institutions of interest, if possible.
  • Check application deadlines with institutions.
  • For medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry or law school, you may need to register for the national application or data assembly service most programs use.

Senior Year, Fall

  • Obtain letters of recommendation.
  • Register for fall graduate admission tests.
  • Take graduate admission test(s) if you have not already.
  • Apply for assistantships, fellowships, grants, etc.
  • Submit completed applications.
  • Register for the FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid - if required.
  • Have transcripts and letters of recommendation mailed.
  • Check to see that all transcripts, letters and materials mailed have been received by institutions.
  • Make plans to visit select institutions during winter break.

Senior Year, Spring

  • Check with institutions before the deadline to insure your file is complete.
  • Evaluate offers of admission and make your decision.
  • Send a deposit to the institution of your choice.
  • Notify other institutions of your acceptance at another school.
  • Send thank you letters and follow-up letters to people who wrote your recommendation letters, informing them of your success.
  • Upon graduation, forward an updated transcript to the institution you will attend in the fall.

You may not be able to adhere to this timetable, if your application deadlines are early, as is the case with medical schools, or if you decide to attend graduate school later in your college career or during your senior year. Keep in mind the application requirements and be sure to meet all deadlines. If deadlines are impossible to meet, call the institution to see if a late application will be considered.

Financing Your Graduate Degree

One obstacle in pursuing an advanced degree is the cost. If you’re willing to pursue a variety of financial aid avenues, most students can completely finance graduate school. The key in obtaining maximum financial aid—don’t leave any stone unturned. The following sources will offer you a variety of financial resources to explore.

Graduate Assistantships

  • Teaching and/or research assistantships are common opportunities for financing your advanced degree.
  • Usually carry full or partial tuition remuneration plus a stipend.
  • Normally involves a 10-20 hour per week work load dealing with teaching, tutoring, proctoring exams, developing lesson plans and/or performing a variety of research activities.
  • Assistantships are typically available through the specific department you are applying to; however, many related areas of study may also have opportunities available.
  • Competition for these awards can be intense. Apply early and always submit a resume with your inquiry. If possible, visit the department and arrange a personal interview.

Fellowships & Grants

  • Consist of outright awards usually requiring no service to the institution in return.
  • Awarded on a competitive basis, grants vary in terms of monetary amount and length of funding.
  • Explore institutional, private and governmental fellowship opportunities.
  • Don’t limit your application to one type of grant because it may take several combined awards to fund your entire graduate degree.
  • Consult with faculty and the resources available in Career Planning for information about fellowships and grants.

Resident Assistantships

  • Work as managers in undergraduate residence halls – not all colleges have this
  • Covers room and board, and may also have a stipend
  • Often the most lucrative because some schools will also include tuition remuneration with the assignment.
  • Competitively based, resident assistantships will involve your job search skills. Always include your resume and cover letter, requesting an interview for available jobs. Inquire about these opportunities at the institution’s residence life or student affairs office.

Loans (Long-term, governmental, private, etc.)

  • Remember that any undergraduate loan can be deferred while you are a full-time graduate student.
  • Most institutions have loan programs for graduate students including private, state and federally-sponsored Guaranteed Student Loan opportunities.
  • Explore FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, offering low interest loans and financial assistance to graduate students.
  • Ask for more information in Financial Aid.

College Work-Study Programs

Eligible students are provided the opportunity to work part-time jobs on campus. These federally funded programs are usually administered by the institution’s financial aid office.

Additional Employment

  • Many college communities offer a wide variety of employment opportunities and welcome graduate students for potential employees.
  • Local business and industry may have agreements with the institution for part-time placement programs.
  • Explore temporary employment agencies such as the Kelly Services or Manpower for local part-time jobs.