UW-L Career ServicesGraduate School Application Timeline

The ideal time to begin your planning for graduate/professional school is at least one year before you plan to start a graduate program. (Current students:  Summer before your senior year of college)

Everyone's timeline will vary based on field of interest, program and university, but this timeline can serve as a guide.  Professional programs in health and medical fields may require applications to be submitted a year in advance of beginning a program.



  • Meet with faculty/staff members and Career Services staff to discuss your personal statement and learn about possible programs

  • Ask for letters of recommendation.  Give your references at least a month to write a letter of recommendation.  They may be writing letters for multiple people.  Give them a copy of resume and personal statement to review.

  • Start to map our the application processes for each institution you are applying too.  All programs vary in the deadlines and needs.

  • Sign up for the standardized tests (GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, etc.)  


  • Take standardized tests.

  • Determine the schools you plan to apply to and request application materials.

  • Finish your timeline based on each institution's deadline and financial aid deadlines.

  • Complete your personal statement, adjust it to meet each application's specific needs.

  • Order transcripts from all post-secondary institutions. (If fall semester grades are expected, then check with staff in the registrar's office to see if a transcript including fall semester grades can be sent in time to meet the deadlines of programs to which you are applying.)


  • Complete application forms.  Make a copy of the form and practice before you fill out the official copy.

  • Give your references all the information that they will need to write recommendations for you for each of your application schools.


  • Mail applications.  Even if deadlines are later, it is good to get the applications in early.


  • Contact programs about the possibility of visiting.  Make trips if possible.


  • If you are applying for need based financial aid programs, you may have to file a copy of your federal income tax return.

Congratulations!!!!  Share the good news with Career Services & your references.  


Kidwell, Clara Sue & Hamblin, Jane A. (1999). Graduate School and You:  A guide for prospective graduate students.  Washington, D.C.:  Council of Graduate Schools.