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Your guide to finding and applying to graduate & professional school.

Depending on your career goals, pursuing graduate or professional school might be a good next step for you. Both provide an intense and specialized course of study that prepares you for careers in academics, research, or specific professional tracks.

Getting Started

Applying to graduate school can be a time consuming process, and it's important to start your planning process early. Below, you'll find a general overview of applying to graduate or professional school, but your specific path may vary based on your field of study and programs of interest.

Is grad school right for me?

Before proceeding, clarify your priorities. Why are you interested in grad school? What type of graduate program and level of study best suits your needs? What do you hope to gain by going to graduate or professional school? Take some time to reflect on these questions before moving forward with your graduate or professional school search.

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Research Your Options

Once you've determined that graduate or professional school is a good next step and you know which field of study you plan to pursue, you need to research which programs will best suit your needs. Connect with a professional organization in your field, your academic advisor, or your Interest Group to identify programs to research.

Consider the following:

  • Research and scholarly opportunities
  • Potential fit with professors' interests and research
  • School or program's reputation
  • Job placement rates
  • Financial assistance and costs
  • Availability of student services
  • Cost of living
  • Geographic location
  • Alumni career paths and networks.

Prepare to Apply

  • Review requirements for your program(s) of interest and make a plan for completing any additional pre-requisite coursework.
  • Research what makes a strong candidate; in some industries, you may need to gain additional life or work experience before pursuing graduate-level study.
  • If any of the programs require entrance exams, determine your strategy: select a preparation method (ex: test prep books, review courses, self-study) and decide when you will take the exam. Common entrance exams include the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, and GMAT.
  • Note application deadlines and map out your timeline.


  1. Timeline: Stick to the timeline specific to your program(s) of interest.
  2. Letters of Recommendation: Contact professors and/or other potential recommenders early to ask if they can write a letter on your behalf. Share a copy of your resume, what interests you in your field of study, and what your goals are for attending graduate or professional school. Consult our guide to Letters of Recommendation for detailed advice on choosing a recommender and asking for a letter.
  3. Personal Statement: Draft your personal statement, and seek feedback from the Writing Center, the Career Center, and trusted advisors/mentors. Consult our guide to personal statements for additional advice.
  4. Transcript: Review your transcript and request an official copy from the registrar.
  5. Entrance Exams: Submit your entrance exam scores, if applicable.
  6. Financial Aid: Apply for financial aid and/or scholarships, grants, or assistantships.
  7. Apply: Submit your application materials.
The University of Vermont Career Center Division of Student Affairs


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