Facebook Pixel for Advertising Data

6 Tips for Graduate School Applicants

Use these six tips to help your graduate school application stand out!

Man studying outside the Chapel of Memories on his laptop

Applying to graduate school can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t need to be! We have six simple tips that will help you complete your graduate school application.

Why do you want to earn a graduate degree? Maybe your why is to pursue your interests more in-depth, to get noticed in today’s job market, or to qualify yourself for a desired professional field. Take a few minutes to sit down and write out why you want to go to graduate school and keep in mind that this does not have to be formal; this is just for you. Writing down your why can come in handy later when writing your statement of purpose.

Researching the department and faculty in the program that you are applying to can provide helpful information as you begin your application. Start with the program’s home page located on the school’s website; MSU Online, for instance, has over forty graduate degree programs, each with a detailed description of the program on our website.
Two key questions to consider as you learn about your program and its faculty are: what do you want to study and who do you want to study with? Knowing the answers to both of these questions will help you as you start to write your statement of purpose.

As part of your application, you will need to acquire letters of recommendation. When selecting people to ask to write your recommendation letters, think carefully about who would write well on your behalf. You should always, first, ask if you can use someone as a recommender. Then, you should ask if they can write a positive recommendation for you and your work.
For graduate school, choosing recommenders who know you academically and who can attest to both your academic work and personal character are best. Professors you have built a good rapport with and who teach subjects related to the field you want to study, administrators that know you in an academic setting, or professionals in the field are all fantastic people to ask for recommendations. Remember, family members and other personal relations are not eligible to write recommendations.
It’s also a good idea to ask an extra person for a letter of recommendation, one more than what you need. If a recommender falls through or forgets to upload the letter, you will have a backup in line so that your application is still submitted on time.

Your graduate school application will require several official documents, such as your CV, official transcripts from previous universities, fee paperwork, and TOEFL scores if applicable. It may take time to collect these documents, especially if they are coming from a university or testing center, so it’s best to start gathering them early.

Your graduate school application will most likely be the first impression you will have on the admissions committee. It is important to make sure that all documents are carefully reviewed for correctness and professionalism before submitting them. Be sure to review all your documents for spelling errors, contact information, and any typos or grammar errors.
You can have your family, friends, trusted faculty, or other professionals review the documents with you. You can also seek out professional editing services or software to assist you.

When writing your application, and especially your statement of purpose, keep in mind that the faculty who will be reviewing it wants to get to know you for you. Explain to them why you are passionate about your subject of choice and/or about the opportunity to work with specific faculty members. Show them what you have to offer the field and let your passion shine!

  1. Know your WHY
  2. Research the program and department you are applying to
  3. Choose recommenders
  4. Collect all official documents
  5. Review documents before submission
  6. Be yourself

With these tips under your belt, you can feel confident when preparing and submitting your graduate school application. Ready to apply today? Click here to apply to a graduate program at Mississippi State Online!