Recommended Timeline for Students

This is a general overview of the graduate school application process. Timelines for specific programs vary, so verify your program's application deadlines.

Junior year (15 to 18 months before you want to begin school)

  • Discuss your interest in graduate school with your professors and faculty advisors. Start researching programs of interest; school websites and admissions offices are excellent resources.
  • Prepare for necessary admissions exams like the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc. Many test prep websites offer free practice tests. Scores are valid for 2-5 years depending on the test, so consider this when deciding to take these exams.
  • Consider using W&L's Spring Option as a time to study for and take admissions exams.
  • Identify professors who may be willing to write strong letters of recommendation for you. Most programs require at least two letters.
  • Investigate potential sources of financial aid like scholarships and fellowships.

Summer before senior year (12 to 15 months before you want to begin school)

  • Register for and take admissions exams.
  • Decide which programs to apply to and familiarize yourself with their application processes. Gather information from the schools and, if possible, plan campus visits.
  • Start drafting your personal statement or statement of purpose.
  • Request letters of recommendation from faculty and other references. Candidates do not typically see their letters of recommendation. The letters are stored by faculty or Career and Professional Development.

Fall of senior year (9 to 12 months before you want to begin school)

  • If you have not already taken the admission exam, register for and take it.
  • Ask for feedback on your personal statement from faculty members and Career and Professional Development. Complete a final draft of the personal statement.
  • Order official undergraduate transcripts from the registrar's office. Some schools require transcripts to be submitted online. See the Registrar's website for instructions about electronic transcripts.
  • Work on your applications, being mindful of all applicable deadlines.
  • Determine which financial aid resources to apply to and complete those applications.
  • Follow up with faculty to ensure that letters of recommendation have been submitted before you send in your applications. Complete well in advance of all deadlines.

Winter Term (6 to 9 months before you want to begin school)

  • File income tax returns and submit other necessary paperwork for financial aid.
  • Some program deadlines are in January; submit your remaining applications.
  • Wait for admissions decisions. Evaluate your acceptances and rejections, and consult with your faculty advisor or Career and Professional Development for advice.
  • Visit campuses of programs that you were accepted to, if possible. Some programs require interviews. Talk to faculty and students on these campuses to learn more about the program, its culture, and opportunities afforded students and its graduates.
  • Send a deposit to the program of your choice and notify programs that you will be declining. If you are waitlisted at any schools high on your list, maintain contact with their admissions office affirming your continued interest. Save your seat at a second choice school by paying your deposit with the understanding that you might get into a better school at the last minute and lose that deposit. Discuss your strategies with your career and faculty advisors.
  • Thank those that helped you prepare for graduate school and let them know about your plans.