There are a variety of reasons to pursue graduate or professional school; it offers new challenges, an opportunity to focus on a specific area of study, and the chance to develop your career.
To pick the best graduate program for your needs, consider first your long-term career goals. What would you like to be doing five or ten years from now? Then, consider how a degree or credential will help you attain those goals.
Here are four ways to find the right graduate program for you:
- Consider Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master’s Program. Clark’s ADP may be the right choice for you. Learn more on their site and look for the on-campus information sessions every spring.
- Search online guides. Peterson’s and U.S. News and World Report offer large databases of U.S. graduate programs.
- Ask people in your network for suggestions. Ask your faculty, Clark alumni on ClarkCONNECT or LinkedIn, or others you know in your chosen field what graduate programs they recommend.
- Attend a conference in your chosen field. At professional conferences, you can ask older professionals what programs they recommend and talk to graduate program reps in the exhibit hall. Many professional conferences have student rates and scholarships; ask your faculty for conference recommendations.
Focus the program, not the school. Picking an undergraduate college or university is often about choosing an entire school and everything it offers (size, location, degrees offered, culture, etc.). By contrast, picking a graduate program is much more about picking a specific program within a university that offers the faculty, research priorities, and facilities that match your interests. Once you identify a shortlist of programs that match your research interests, consider other factors like location, climate, campus culture, etc.
Don’t do it alone. You’ll have the best chance for success if you have a network of support for the search and application process. This may include friends, family, and alumni in your chosen field; Clark faculty; staff in the Career Connections Center, Writing Center, or Prestigious Fellowships Office; and others.
Many deadlines fall between January and March, but some programs have rolling admission. Read each school’s information and plan accordingly! You may have a slight advantage if you apply at least a month before the deadline. Know the requirements well ahead of time and try to prepare your application 6 months to a year in advance.
Materials You Will Need:
- Standardized tests (varies by program)
- Letters of recommendation
- Resume/Curriculum Vitae
Overview: Most standardized tests for graduate school are administered through computer adaptive testing. Scores are generally valid for five years. Required tests may vary; check with each graduate program to which you plan to apply.
Timeline: Begin studying by the winter break of your junior year; a practice test will give you a baseline and help you identify where you need to study most. For graduate school, take your first test by late spring of your junior year so you have time to study and take it again by early fall of your senior year, if necessary.
Fees and Scholarships: Standardized tests cost $100–$300 and more. You may qualify for a fee reduction or waiver for these tests; however, you must allow yourself time to complete the necessary paperwork. Check the latest requirements and deadlines on each of the testing sites below by searching for “fee waiver.”
Details: The following websites will provide you with specific information on test dates and content of testing materials.
- GRE Subject Tests (Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Math, Physics, Psychology)
- Praxis Series (For teachers)
Competitive Scores: To find out the score you need to earn in order to be competitive for a specific program, contact the program directly and ask them for the average standardized test scores for their admitted students.
Several (two to five) letters of recommendation may be required for each application; check application requirements carefully for each program to which you are applying.
For great letters of recommendation, follow these etiquette guidelines:
- Ask people who know you well (professors, employers, or others) to write on your behalf. For graduate school, at least one letter should be from a faculty member — ideally from your chosen area of graduate study.
- Meet in person (or, if necessary, call) to ask for letters of recommendation. Avoid asking over email. Be direct: “Would you be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation for me?” If a person does not feel comfortable writing you a strong recommendation, ask someone else.
- If you will require several letters from the same person, immediately let them know how many you will need.
- Discuss the purpose of the letter with the writer (e.g., graduate school, employment). It may be helpful to provide a resume/curriculum vitae for the writer.
- Discuss how the person will deliver the letter. Will they send their recommendations directly to a graduate program, or upload to AMCAS? Research this before you ask for the letters.
- Ask for recommendations several months in advance, so the writer has enough time to draft exceptional letters.
- Optional: Refer your letter writers to the Career Connection Center’s page for faculty, where they’ll find tips on writing letters of recommendation.
The way in which you express your experience and portray your motivations in an essay can have a major impact on your ability to be accepted to more competitive programs. Budget a substantial amount of time to writing your essays. Some graduate programs require more than one essay.
- Write a Graduate School Essay that Will Knock Their Socks Off (Petersons.com)
- How to Write a Graduate School Personal Statement (Kaptest.com)
- Personal Statement vs. Statement of Purpose (Gograd.org)
You can arrange to have your transcript sent to graduate schools from the Registrar’s Office by mail or in person.
Note: If you took classes at other institutions or studied abroad, you will need to contact these programs to request an official transcript be sent to your graduate schools.
Depending on the program, you may need a resume or a curriculum vitae for your graduate school application.
What’s the difference? A curriculum vitae (CV) is an unabridged (complete) listing of one’s academic and research work. By contrast, a resume (in the United States) is a 1-2 page summary of your work experience and skills.
Templates: Please see the Career Connection Center’s Resources page for resume and CV templates.
CV review: Make an appointment with your career adviser, and/or have your CV reviewed by a trusted faculty member.
These resources represent some of the most frequently visited websites. The Career Connections Center recommends each applicant do extensive research beyond the links presented here.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (U.S. Department of Education)
Scholarship database; requires completion of a profile
General resource for business, law, and medical schools
Overview of loan types, FAQ, and scholarships
Funding opportunities for training in the biological and medical sciences
International Education Financial Aid
Financial aid and scholarship information for graduate school abroad
Select National Fellowships and Scholarships
A list of national fellowships which may require nomination by Clark University
Note: Deadlines may be earlier than your actual graduate school application deadlines; make an appointment with the Prestigious Fellowships staff in your junior year to explore options and begin the application process.
Petersons.com – Write a Graduate School Essay that Will Knock Their Socks Off
An overview of the graduate admissions essay
Association of American Medical Colleges
Resources for future physicians
American Dental Association
Details on the Dental Admission Test (DAT)
Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) information
Details on the Graduate Management Admission Test
Medical College Admission Test information
Details on the Law School Admission Test
Educational Testing Service — including GRE and Major Field Test for the MBA
How to Choose: an overview of graduate school programs and degrees
Best Grad Schools
U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings
Search for a graduate program
Graduate Management Admission Council
General information regarding the pursuit of a graduate business degree with a searchable database of programs worldwide; requires completion of a profile
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Comprehensive guide for applying to osteopathic medical college
Business Week School Finder
Search for MBA programs based on ranking, cost, enrollment, GMAT score or region
Master’s in Education Guide
View programs by specialty, degree or state
U.S. News & World Report
Grad school rankings for business, education, engineering, law, and medicine
Applicant and matriculant data on U.S. medical schools