Whether you are pursuing a master’s, MBA, or PhD, applying to an online graduate school can seem like a daunting and stressful task. The application process for grad school, while often more in-depth than the process for undergraduate degrees, should not deter you from pursuing your goal of an advanced education. Continue reading to find out what criteria you must meet to be eligible and what you can expect as you apply to graduate school.
If you plan to attend grad school, you will have to research the eligibility requirements for each graduate degree type. Keep in mind that the following requirements are general. Some colleges and universities have additional requirements you must meet, so contact your preferred school’s admissions department to learn more. The following are common eligibility criteria for master’s, MBA, and PhD programs:
While the eligibility requirements are similar for all three graduate degree types, some MBA and PhD programs don’t have GPA minimums. However, they may require previous professional work or research experience.
The criteria mentioned above are general graduate eligibility requirements. You should thoroughly research requirements that are specific to your field of study. For example, if you plan to pursue a graduate nursing program, you may be required to be licensed as a registered nurse before you can attend the program. This is common for specialized subject areas or fields that require some type or professional licensure.
After you have researched both general and discipline-specific eligibility requirements, the next step is to apply for admission to your preferred schools. The application process for grad school consists of several steps, which vary by school and must be completed in order for you to be considered.
The steps for applying to graduate school are similar, regardless of whether you are pursuing your master’s, MBA, or PhD. While you should inquire about the application process for graduate degrees at specific schools, the following are common steps in the application process:
Step 1: Fill out the admissions application
The first part of the application process is straightforward and consists of filling out an application for admissions. This application will ask for basic personal information, in addition to questions pertaining to your eligibility. You will need to supply the school with all previous college experience as well as any requested letters of recommendation, essays, or personal statements. You will also be asked to submit an application fee when submitting this form.
Step 2: Provide transcripts to the school
To be sure that you are eligible, the online graduate school to which you are applying will ask that you submit previous college transcripts. When reviewing these transcripts, the admissions committee will assess your GPA and the difficulty of the courses you’ve taken to determine your academic readiness for challenging graduate study.
Step 3: Take and submit your graduate standardized test scores
Graduate programs, particularly MBA and PhD programs, will ask that you take a standardized test. The two main types of tests you may be required to take are the GRE and the GMAT exams. These tests allow a school’s admissions department to assess your abilities in verbal and quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and other important skills that will help them determine if you would be a good candidate for their program.
Step 4: Provide a letter of recommendation
In addition to evaluating your intellectual abilities through transcripts and standardized admission testing, colleges and universities are also interested in what type of person you really are. The best way to do this is to learn about your personal strengths through letters of recommendation provided by the people in your life that have seen you succeed and can attest to your academic promise. A former professor, an employer, or even a mentor are qualified to provide these letters or recommendation. Choose people who know you well that can provide an insightful assessment of your personality and strengths as they pertain to success in graduate school.
Step 5: Write an admissions essay or personal statement
Writing a personal statement is usually the most time-consuming part of the grad school admissions process. This is your opportunity to leave an impression on the school’s admissions committee. Some schools provide you with essay prompts or suggestions, but other schools leave it up to you to organize the content of your essay. Research your preferred programs and the values they promote in order to draft a relevant essay that matches your personal goals with their mission. Ask several people to review your essay, and choose people with different strengths. Contact a professor in your field, as well as an editor to gain feedback on the tone and organization of your statement. Lastly, find a skilled proofreader to check grammar, spelling, and style consistency.
Step 6: Attend personal interview
This is usually the last step in the admissions process. Although not all colleges and universities request an interview, you’ll need to be proactive in learning the steps to nail an admissions interview in case you get a last-minute request. Some grad schools choose to interview potential students so that they can put a face with a name and get to know them on a deeper level. They also want to see that you can articulate ideas clearly and hold your composure in a professional environment. Be prepared at all times, even when visiting a campus or discussing a program over the phone with an admissions counselor. Treat every encounter as an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and seriousness about graduate study.