Timeline for Graduate School Admissions Process

Junior Year:

  • Discuss graduate school with your major advisor.
  • If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Sociology, ask your major advisor to borrow the department’s “Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology”. This directory lists most departments that offer an M.A./M.S. or Ph.D. in Sociology along with a list of faculty and their areas of specialization.
  • Start preparing for the necessary standardized test. Most graduate programs require the General Record Exam (GRE). However, law schools require the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), and business programs often require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

Summer before Senior Year:

  • Consider a GRE (or other standardized test) prep course.
  • Consider taking the GRE
  • View program websites and familiarize yourself with their deadlines and admissions policies.

Fall of Senior Year:

  • Take the GRE or appropriate standardized test if you have not already done so.
  • Work with your faculty advisor to decide which programs you will apply to.
  • Prepare a personal statement. This is a required document for graduate admission that details your plan for graduate study (Sample Outline of Personal Statement). If you are applying to several schools or programs, make sure to cater your personal statement to each program.
  • Request letters of recommendation from your professors at least one month in advance of when you need them. Most programs require 3 letters of recommendation. All of these letters should come from professors if possible. Find letter writers who are familiar with your work and interests. When you request letters of recommendation, bring the following documents (or send them electronically in preparation for the meeting):
    • A list of schools you intend to apply to. Include the due date for application materials for each school and information about which parts of the application are online and which parts are offline. Most supporting documents for letters of recommendation will be available online, but if they are not or if they need to be signed, please print and bring copies to your letter writers.
    • A copy of your resume
    • A copy of your personal statement(s)
    • A signed version of the FERPA authorization form

Ask your letter writers if they will be using official letterhead stationery or if you should provide them with addressed, stamped envelopes.

  • Arrange to have your GRE scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation sent to each university where you will apply. Submit all your materials. Most application deadlines will fall between December 1st and January 15th.

Spring of Senior Year:

  • Wait for your admissions to arrive.
  • Universities typically announce their admissions decisions between February and April, with most taking place in early to mid-April.