Whether it’s in information technology, medicine, or data science, landing a senior role in any lucrative industry requires an advanced degree. If you are interested in getting a master’s or a PhD to advance your career, then this article is for you. We will cover how to get into graduate school, how difficult is it to get into graduate schools today, and common graduate school requirements.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on the 2020 educational attainment chart, the average weekly earnings for master’s degree holders is $1,893. Getting a graduate degree is a great way to propel your career path. Read on to find out how to get accepted into graduate school and the application process.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into Graduate School?
The difficulty of getting into a graduate school program surpasses that of an undergraduate degree program and requires its candidates to have specific educational and skill competencies. It can be quite difficult to get into a graduate school as these competitive programs often require prospective students to have high grade point averages and present multiple exceptional letters of recommendation.
However, the difficulty level isn’t standardized across all universities and varies significantly by school rankings, application process, field of study, and degree program. Future grad students are also required to include a compelling cover letter stating their reasoning behind their interest in the university’s grad program.
Common Graduate School Requirements
The application requirements for grad school differ from program to program by your choice of subject area, university rules, school rankings, and program requirements. Meeting the application requirements and standing out in your graduate school applications is key to your application’s success.
Read on to find the common graduate school requirements you must fulfill to get into your dream graduate programs.
- Official transcript and undergraduate degree. Whether it’s an application for a master’s, PhD, or doctoral degree program, you’ll need an undergraduate degree and an official transcript. Your undergraduate degree typically needs to match your grad program’s major. You will also need to meet the minimum GPA requirements, which are typically 3.0 or higher.
- Letters of recommendation. Graduate programs also require at least one strong letter of recommendation that highlights your personal experiences, academic background, and professional experiences. You might need to submit two or more reference letters depending on the school. You can reach out to your professional or educational mentors and ask them to write letters of recommendation.
- Relevant standardized tests. You will need to meet a university’s minimum score requirements to qualify for its graduate program. The tests will vary by subject area. For example, you will need to submit your Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores to apply to law school. Similarly, you will need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to apply for medical school.
- Resume. A resume is often another common requirement for a grad school application. It is a professional and educational summary document that allows the admissions officers to learn about your background and capabilities. This will help them determine if you are ready for graduate courses.
- Personal statement. Last but most importantly, all graduate applications require a personal statement or a cover letter that discusses your interests in the program. This essay covers relevant experiences, dream career plans, educational competencies, and your passion for the subject you will study in the graduate program.
How to Get Accepted Into Graduate School: A Step-by-Step Guide
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get accepted into a graduate school. You should customize these steps to meet the requirements of your dream graduate program. Go through these steps carefully to make sure that you become a competitive candidate.
Step 1: Look Into Your Graduate School Options
The first step to applying and getting into a graduate school is finding a grad school that complements your career goals and learning preferences. You must find a program that meets your academic expectations, financial needs, timeline, and qualifications. You can do this by researching programs online, getting in touch with the school’s academic advisors, or contacting the program’s professors.
It is imperative that you outline your potential graduation thesis topics, research field, or career expectations prior to the research process. This will allow you to have a smooth and easy research process by narrowing your program choices to only those that suit your interests.
Step 2: Make a List of Your Top Choices and Break Down the Program Requirements
The next step is to start building an excellent application. This requires you to create a list of your top graduate program choices and add a list of their specific requirements. You will then match these requirements to your educational skills and professional qualifications to identify the elements you might be lacking. You can then work towards attaining the elements you’re missing and ultimately present a strong application.
Step 3: Create a Personal Statement or Cover Letter to Match the Program and Application
Your personal statement is one of the most crucial components that informs whether or not you are a fit graduate candidate. This step is entirely subjective depending on your choice of subject area, educational background, and qualifications. If you’re an aspiring law student, your personal statement must reflect your passion for law, the school’s law program, and relevant subjects.
This personal statement also changes depending on who it’s addressed to. If you address the letter to a general grad school admissions officer at your preferred school, you can mostly include aspects of the school and program that you admire. However, if you are addressing it to a specific program’s research professor, then it should focus on your reasons for wanting to work with them.
Step 4: Network With the Graduate Professors or Grad School Advisors
The overall graduate student population at a university tends to be small, making the application process highly competitive. Having a personal connection with the graduate school advisors or grad program faculty will enhance your chances of acceptance. This step will be easier for those who are applying for a graduate program at their undergraduate institution.
Step 5: Ace Your Graduate School Standardized Tests
The next step is to take the required standardized tests. The tests that you need to take will differ according to your choice of graduate program. However, no matter the test you are taking, it is essential to put in a lot of practice as the MCAT, LSAT, and GRE can all be difficult to pass.
Step 6: Submit a Well-Rounded Application to Grad School
An impressive and well-rounded grad school application consists of excellent academic scores, subject-relevant skills, an undergraduate degree, a great recommendation letter, and a compelling personal statement. Make sure to start compiling your application documents with plenty of time before the deadline so that you do not have to rush through such a crucial task.
Step 7: Prepare For Your Interview
Most graduate programs include an interview process to learn more about selected applicants. If invited, you must ace your interview and impress the admissions counselor to get into the school. Practice the most common grad school interview questions along with subject-specific questions. You must also reiterate your passion for the program and your career goals during the interview.
How to Choose the Right Graduate School
Choosing the right grad program and university is key to a fruitful career and academic success. You must consider the degree’s graduation timeline, curriculum, research opportunities, and thesis requirements. You should also ensure that the program matches your financial preferences, as graduate institutions can be costly.
You can do this by getting in touch with the grad program department, admissions office, and the university bursar. Looking up potential career trajectories and opportunities is another essential factor to consider while choosing your dream school.
Top Tips for Getting Into Graduate School
Below are the top five tips you can use to get into graduate school.
- Research, research, and research. The first and most important tip is to do extensive research on the graduate program. A graduate degree is a subject specialization that costs tons of money and time and helps pave your career trajectory. It is crucial that you research and find a program that aligns with your career ambitions and subject interests.
- Take graduate test courses. The next tip is to ace your grad school exams by getting ample assessment practice. You can enroll in LSAT, MCAT, or GRE prep courses from various online providers for better preparation.
- Build a connection with the grad school faculty. A graduate degree, especially in research or thesis-based programs, requires you to work closely with your graduate advisor. Grad program faculty also play a major role in determining whether you get into their programs. By building personal connections, you will increase your chances of acceptance.
- Clearly outline your thesis or program goals. Having an impressive and clear outline of your thesis topic, research goals, or graduate career goals plays a major role in your chances of acceptance. Be sure to relate your goals with the university’s values and program.
- Do well in your undergraduate courses and get a relevant degree. Your official transcripts and undergraduate degree help you qualify for a grad program. It is crucial that you meet the school’s GPA requirements and attain the educational background needed to excel in the program.
Will I Get Accepted Into Graduate School?
You will get accepted into graduate school if you meet the university’s GPA requirements, standardized test scores, and candidacy preferences. Being in touch with the grad program professors also increases your odds of being selected. You will also need to send in an impressive application with a compelling personal statement and at least one solid letter of recommendation.
Is Getting Into Graduate School Worth It?
If you are interested in landing a senior role, advancing your educational qualifications, or entering research fields, then getting into graduate school is worth it. You can become a professor, a research scientist, or a senior engineer and earn higher salaries. PhDs and master’s degrees also allow you to specialize in a subject area and build academic expertise.
If you are not ready to take on the responsibility and financial burden of a graduate program, you can always consider attending a bootcamp to still further develop your skills. Bootcamps are a particularly good option for those hoping to work in the tech industry.
How to Get Into Graduate School FAQ
Yes, you will need to clear either the GRE, LSAT, or MCAT to get into graduate school. The type of standardized test will differ according to your choice of program. International students might be required to take standardized English tests as well.
Yes, it is hard to get into grad school due to the high competition, significant requirements, and low spot availability. You will need to meet the school’s GPA, grad exam, and other academic requirements to be eligible.
A graduation school application requires a personal statement, thesis or research topic declaration, official transcripts, undergraduate degree, letter of recommendation, and standardized test scores.
Yes, GPAs are important factors for grad school admissions and most universities have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or more for their prospective students.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.