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Applying to Graduate & Professional School
The application to graduate or professional school consists of a number of pieces of information on which you may be evaluated. Different schools and programs may evaluate and place importance on different pieces of your application. Apply to several schools to increase your chances of being selected and to give you options of where to attend.
Accurately complete all the application forms and consistently spell your full, legal name on all the forms and correspondence.
The majority of applications are completed online; however, there may be cases where the application or parts of the application (e.g. letters of recommendation) are completed and submitted in hard copy format. Each school's application is different, so pay close attention to the instructions and deadlines. If all parts of your application are not received by the deadline your application may not be considered. Most graduate school application deadlines are between December and April for fall admission but some may be as early as November. Professional school application deadlines are typically earlier than graduate school applications. Check centralized application services (CAS) for application deadlines to professional schools.
Graduate and professional school programs require official transcripts from every college or university you attended. Request your transcripts early to avoid any delay. Many institutions consider your grade point average a strong indicator of your ability to do graduate work, and admissions committees consider it carefully. They will look at your cumulative GPA, and at the grades you earned in your major, particularly in upper-division courses in your major. Patterns of improvement may be considered if you started out with less than stellar grades. Official transcripts from UMD can be requested through UMD One Stop.
The Personal Statement sometimes referred to as the "Essay” or “Statement of Purpose” is a very important part of the application. It is your chance to provide the admissions committee with subjective information about your qualifications and your reasons for choosing a particular program/career. The statement should demonstrate strong writing skills, as well as why you are a good fit for the school, graduate-level work, and the profession.
Before you start writing your statement, read the directions from the program(s) carefully to ensure you address their specific questions and complete our FREE online Moodle workshop: Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate or Professional School.
Start early! This will allow you more time to rewrite and refine your statement and will give you more opportunities to have your statement reviewed by a career counselor and faculty. After you have completed the Moodle workshop and written a draft of your personal statement, you can have it reviewed by Career and Internship Services staff by making an appointment with a career counselor or by submitting it online.
Supplemental applications are typically required by professional schools that use central application services (CAS). Supplemental applications vary between schools and often change from year to year. The purpose of a supplemental application is to provide information about you in relation to the particular school’s program.
Check the test requirements and deadlines of each school to which you are applying so you can schedule your testing dates and locations accordingly. Begin preparing early. Attend preparation workshops when available. Take advantage of online practice tests and information. Set aside time each week to prepare. To see which tests are offered at UMD, visit our Testing page.
Graduate school admission test: The GRE General Test is the most often required entrance test for graduate school. GRE Subject Tests may also be required by some programs. Subject tests are available in the following areas: Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology.
Professional school admission tests: Entrance tests required for professional schools include the LSAT for law school, MCAT for medical school, GMAT for business school, PCAT for pharmacy school, OAT for Optometry school, and DAT for dental school.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation are often a very important part of the application process. Strong letters of recommendation can strengthen your application and if there are deficiencies, they can help outweigh them.
The programs or schools usually provide their own reference forms. They will provide specific instructions about the type and number of people from whom they want references and about what they want them to write. The number and type of references depend on the individual school or program, so be sure you clearly understand the requirements. Some programs may ask you to indicate whether you wish to waive the right to see the recommendation. Waiving the right to see a letter may increase its validity.
For additional information and suggestions regarding requesting letters of recommendation, see References.
When requesting references from UMD faculty or staff you must supply them with a completed copy of the Student Reference Request Form (pdf).
Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
A graduate school application resume or curriculum vitae (commonly referred to as a CV) focuses on your experience and may provide the admissions committee with more information than what is included in the application. The graduate school resume, or CV, emphasizes professional qualifications, research, projects, performances, papers, publications, and presentations, related to your particular area of interest, as well as work and volunteer experience. A graduate school application resume or cv is typically longer than a job search resume.
Samples of your work
Some programs may require samples of your work. Check with each program to which you are applying to determine what they want, the number of examples, and the format in which they want you to submit your work. Select examples that best demonstrate your abilities.