Applying to Graduate School, Part One

by kathleenljackson

Now that I have actually been accepted into a graduate program in the US, I feel as though I can write about the application process. I don’t think that this is (or should be considered) a “one-size fits all” approach  – in fact, I would recommend that you try making your application as unique as possible (because they are reading hundreds of them).

First, you need to become aware of the application deadline. I didn’t realise the deadline was quite so looming (I almost didn’t have enough time to get everything done!). It is recommended you start your application process as early as possible (Applications for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for Fall 2014 will be available September 2013).

The second thing you need to do is really look at the prospective university/ program/ professors. Make sure the work happening at that university is aligned with your own research interests. Look at the recent publication of your potential professors; is there anything you can offer them? Is there anything that excites you? If all else fails, EMAIL them! There is no quicker way to determine if you are interested in each others’ work than by actually making contact. The name/ reputation of a school should ALWAYS be secondary to the research you are interested in because, really, we are talking about at least the next 7 years of your life. It is necessary, for both you and the school, for it to be the “right fit”.

Because this is such a long-winded process and because I am, by nature, verbose this will be a multi-part blog topic. It will look at:

  • The GRE
  • Personal Statements
  • Written Samples
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Misc. tips and idea

PHD Comics: To PhD or not to PhD