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Western Kentucky University - How to Apply for Grad school

How do I apply for Graduate School?

After researching schools and graduate programs, and selecting the ones you’d like to apply to, the following is information to consider:


Completing the Application

A school's graduate application usually will accompany the materials that you request from the school. Also, many schools have on-line applications accessible on the schools website.

  •  Timeline note: Each schools application deadline will vary, but it is recommended to begin your application process 1 year before the semester you intend to take classes.

Letters of Recommendation

Most programs require two to four letters from former employers, professors, or other individuals. What are the recommendations for? Graduate schools want to gain insight into your academic ability, work ethic and other suitability for their program. Especially if it is a highly competitive school or program. They want to accept students who will be successful in their program and letters of recommendation are 1 of 3 ways (test scores, GPA being the other 2 predictors) to predict your potential and success for graduate school.

 When applying to graduate school, you should begin considering whom you would like to ask to write letters for you, keeping the reasons stated above in mind. It would be most beneficial to sit down with your potential writers to discuss why you are interested in graduate school and the program to which you are applying. You also will need to provide these individuals with addresses of the schools, and application deadlines.

  • Timeline note: Remember that these people will probably be busy so, give them enough time to follow through on your request before your application deadline. We recommend providing 2-4 weeks for them to write your letter for you.


Graduate schools usually want a record of all undergraduate coursework and any graduate coursework you have completed previously. Some applicants often overlook correspondence classes that should be included when requesting transcripts. These transcripts usually need to be "official" copies sent directly from the university or college where credit was given. You will need to provide each institution with the appropriate mailing address and deadlines.

  • Timeline note: Prepare to request transcripts to be mailed, after your last completed semester, upon graduation. The schools will want to see a complete transcript. Some undergraduate schools may have a waiting period before they can send out transcripts, be sure to contact your schools transcript office. WKU’s information can be found at:


Graduate schools may or may not request that a resume be sent in with your application materials. It is important to have one prepared, in case. Graduate schools resumes differ than resumes you would use to gain employment with. There is a larger focus on academic achievements and extracurricular activities, such as working with a faculty member on a research project or holding a leadership position in an academic organization.

For more information on Graduate school resumes click on the following resource links:

  • Timeline note: Visit your Career Services Center early and often during your college career. They can teach you how to prepare a resume for the present, AND help you look ahead, to plan activities, jobs, or honors that you might want to have on your resume upon graduation.

 Personal Essay or Statement

The purpose of this essay is to provide information about you! It’s like an interview on paper, where you have the opportunity to sell yourself as a good candidate for their program. This essay should demonstrate your academic ability and writing skills, prior experiences (work and school related), and reasons why you are entering the chosen field of study. DO NOT take this step lightly, as it’s a very important piece of the graduate school application process.

For more information on Personal Essays or Statements click on the following resource links:

  1. Preparation and Your Graduate Admissions Essay, From Tara Kuther, Ph.D.,
  2. 10 Not So FAQ About Personal Statements, From Tara Kuther, Ph.D.,
  3. - Sample Graduate School Applications and Essays



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 Last Modified 9/25/14