How to Apply to U.S. Graduate Schools

U.S. graduate schools are all independent, and each sets its own requirements for admission. Within each school individual programs may often have different requirements. These guidelines are written to assist you in your search for graduate education. It is advisable to start this process approximately one to one-and-a-half year (s) before you hope to begin studies in the U.S. The American academic year begins in August or September, and students should generally request admission for the autumn or fall term.

Obtain information about institutions which offer the program you want to pursue. Use reference guides, such as Peterson’s Guide and the Directory of Graduate Programs, to locate specific institutions which offer the program at the degree level (Master’s or Doctorate) you are seeking.

Write directly to the Graduate Admissions Offices of the institutions to obtain information and applications. Indicate the major academic area of interest to you. Carefully print your name and address on all such inquiries. You should also write to the department. Stress field of specialization, professional background, reasons for choosing particular faculty and ask for information on financial aid possibilities. You do not need the name of the department chairman or a professor to obtain an application. Advise each office that you have contacted the other.

Read thoroughly all materials received to determine whether the program you want is offered; whether you appear to meet the minimum academic requirement; if you require financial assistance, whether it is available for your proposed programs; and whether you can meet the application deadlines.

Apply to more than one institution. U.S. institutions receive many applications and often cannot accommodate all qualified applicants. You may decide which institution to attend after you have received your admission offers.

Complete the admission application carefully and legibly. Always give your name in exactly the same way on the application and in all correspondence. If some of your records are under a different name, be sure you indicate that on the application. Complete all items on the application and submit all items requested.

If an application fee is required, submit the appropriate amount in U.S. currency with your application. Most institutions will not process your application without the fee.

Request official academic records both in the native language and in English translation. Official documents must bear the seal of the school and authorized signature. Photocopies are not usually acceptable unless they are officially attested as exact copies of the original. Records should be submitted for all post-secondary schools attended and should provide a list of courses taken, yearly examination results, and conferral of degrees. 8. If your native language is not English, register as early as possible for TOEFL® and request that Educational Testing Service forward your scores to the institutions to which you are applying.

Register for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE®), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or other tests if required by the program/institution to which you are applying.

Request letters of recommendation as required by the program/institution. These letters should generally be written by professors with whom you have studied.

Submit verification of scholarship or other financial support.

Note the deadlines for application given in the institutional information you receive. Different institutions/programs have different deadlines. Allow time for mail delays, application consideration, and for obtaining passport and visa when you are admitted. Apply early. Stated application deadlines are generally the final date for receipt of applications and all supporting credentials. Additional time is required to process applications from international students.

Allow 6-8 weeks after your application file is completed with an institution to receive their admission decision. Many schools and departments, however, send admission offers only in March and April.

It is courteous to notify an institution if you will not be accepting their offer of admission.

Send all requests, applications, and credentials airmail.

Remember: A Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or IAP-66) cannot be issued until you have been admitted, your level of English proficiency has been determined (and additional training arranged for if necessary) and your funding has been established as a sufficient amount to meet the institution’s expenses. A Certificate of Eligibility is valid only for study in the institution which issued it — and only for the starting dates.

If you have questions about a program of study or your application status, do not hesitate to write for more information.