The ideal time to begin your planning for graduate school is
at least one year before you plan to start a graduate
program (i.e. spring/summer before your last year of college).
Everyone's timeline will vary, but this timeline can serve as a
SPRING / SUMMER
- Start a rough draft of your personal statement
- Begin the search for graduate programs via websites and college catalogs
- The Psychology Advising Center (GMH 343) has an APA catalogue of graduate programs in psychology
- Don't limit yourself to only one program, search multiple programs.
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER
- 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. Give them a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae, your personal statement, and an unofficial transcript to review.
- Map out the application processes for institution's deadlines and financial aid deadlines. Programs vary in deadlines and needs.
- Sign up for standardized tests (psychology students typically need to take the GRE and some may need the GRE psychology subject test).
- Take standardized tests.*
- Determine the schools you plan to apply to and start filling out applications (many are online).
- Complete your personal statement and adjust it to meet each application's specific needs.
- Order official college transcripts from the Office of Records & Registration (GMH 117). The current cost for an official transcript is $8.
NOVEMBER - JANUARY
Submit applications. Deadlines generally fall between December 1st and February 15th; deadlines for Ph.D. programs are typically earliest. Remember it’s good to get the applications in early.
Contact programs about the possibility of visiting (some visits may be invitation only). 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.
*Although many students choose to take the GRE during their senior year, this is not necessarily the best strategy. The GRE tests students on verbal skills (vocabulary, something that's very difficult to study), writing skills (something that practice will benefit), and basic math skills (high school level geometry, algebra, and arithmetic; students can significantly increase their scores on this section by studying and practicing). GRE scores last for 5 years, so we recommend that students keep in mind the content of the test and take it whenever they feel they'll have the most time to prepare (summer break is a great time).