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Applying for graduate school

A page within Academic Advising Center & Career Services

Decide on a program

Find a reputable website for graduate program listings. Good places to start: 

When comparing programs, consider:

  • Campus size - Do you like the size of UWL?  Do you want to try something smaller?  Larger?  Is it time for a change or not?
  • Tuition - This isn't always the most important consideration, as quality matters; however, it can be a deciding factor between two otherwise similar programs.
  • Faculty - Research the faculty.  Do their areas of specialty match your interests? Learn what you can about their reputation.
  • Location - Graduate school can be an adventure.  Do you want to experience a completely different region of the county - the world?  You can always return once you have your degree.
  • Placement  - Contact the Career Services Office at that campus.  Check out graduation rates, placement in related fields, potential employers and salaries of graduates.
  • Emphasis area  - Academic programs can have identical titles at two different schools yet be very different. It is important for you to decide what you want to learn and then find a program that matches your interests.
  • Thesis, comprehensive exams, or both - Some schools require an exam at the completion of the program, while others require a thesis. Still others allow students to choose.
  • Degrees and certifications offered - It is important to know exactly what degree or certification you wish to obtain.  Masters' programs differ significantly in length, internships, practicum, requirements, etc.
  • Application details - Does the school participate in a centralized application service? Are you required to apply to both the specific program and the graduate school? What is the deadline? Note that they vary by program and are generally listed on the program website.
  • Profile of students in program - The  minimum GPA to apply may not tell the whole story about the competitiveness of the admissions process at particular schools.  Some programs may list a minimum GPA (say 3.0), however the GPA of students typically entering the program may be higher.  Ask to see the profile of the most recent entering class to see if you are a fit.
  • Work experience first - Some graduate programs require that graduate students have "real life" experience.  These students are better able to contribute to class discussion.
  • Financing - Many schools offer assistantships which can help pay for your education.  Some even pay the entire cost.  You may receive a stipend, tuition waiver, or both. Scholarships are sometimes available. It is important to research the possibilities!
  • Entrance exams - Many graduate schools require applicants to submit scores from a standardized examination Information on the test dates, times and places can be found at the Counseling and Testing Center on the second floor of Centennial Hall.
  • Professional goals - Do you want an M.S., M.A., Ph.D.?

Do not hesitate to attend "visit days" to learn more! An example from UWL.


Many graduate programs will have an interview process - they vary in terms of formality, format, setting, and duration. While it is important to ask the program what you might expect for your interview, here are some tips that might help get you started.

Check out the Grad School Prep Pack , created by Career Services and the Pre-Health Center, for additional tips! 


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