Prepare your Application

Each graduate program will have different application requirements, so it’s important to pay close attention to what each program requires, and prepare accordingly. Here are the typical elements of a graduate application package and things to keep in mind when applying:

  • Know where to apply 

    It is important to note that applying to graduate school may look different than when you applied to undergrad. Be sure to check your program(s) of interest to determine where you should be submitting your application materials. For many programs, you will likely apply directly through the school. However, for certain professional programs, you may submit your materials through a centralized application service specific to that professional field, which will then send your materials to the program(s) to which you are applying. See below for a short list of professional programs and their respective application service platforms. But first, always check the application instructions for the program(s) you are interested in before submitting any materials.

    To apply to law school, you may be asked to submit your application online through the Law School Admissions Council, or LSAC.

    To apply to medical school, you may be asked to submit your application through the Association of American Medical College’s (AAMC) American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).

    To apply to veterinary school, you may be asked to submit your application through the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges’ (AAVMC) Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS).

    To apply to PA school, you may be asked to submit your application through the Physician Assistant Education Association’s Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). 

    To apply to physical therapy programs, you may be asked to submit your application through the American Physical Therapist Association’s Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS). 

    To apply to dental school, you may be asked to submit your application through the American Dental Education Association’s Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (ADEA AADSAS). 

  • Resume

    A resume or CV allows you to showcase your skills and experiences in a clear, neat overview. Check out our Resume Guide for information on writing a resume or CV.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Programs will often ask for multiple letters of recommendation to supplement your application. These letters should come from people who can speak to your qualifications as a student and/or employee. Your letter(s) should not come from family members or friends. Professors are a great choice for recommenders, as they can speak to your abilities as a student. When considering which faculty to ask, think about who you have a good relationship with, and who knows you personally (not just whoever awarded you the highest grade in a class).

  • Transcript

    Programs will want a copy of your transcript. You’ll want to make sure you follow the process set out by your target schools to send your academic transcript. You can request copies of it from the RWU Registrar’s Office.

  • Personal Statement

    Most schools will want you to write some version of a personal statement. Some programs will specify exactly how long it should be and what topics you should cover, whereas others might leave it open-ended. You will need to write a unique personal statement for every school you plan to apply to, and should make that statement personalized to each program. You’ll want to include a personal anecdote/human interest story, your academic and professional goals, your relevant skills, and your interest in the particular program to which you are applying. Check out our PERSONAL STATEMENT GUIDE for more, or make an appointment with your Career Advisor!

  • Tests

    Depending on the program, you may need to take a standardized test and submit your scores. Admissions panels will often use these scores as a component of the application review process. For any of these tests, you will need to schedule your test date and give yourself ample time to prepare and study – often, a few months. See below for more information:

    GRE: The GRE is a common standardized test used by for master’s and doctoral programs. Exams include the GRE require the GRE General test and the GRE Subject Test– you’ll want to review each program’s testing requirements to determine the tests that you need to take. To learn more about the GRE and how to register, click here.

    MCAT: The MCAT is a test for medical school programs. To learn more about the MCAT and how to register, click here.

    LSAT: The LSAT is the standardized test used by law school programs. To learn more about the LSAT and how to register, click here.

    CASPer: The CASPer test is an online, open-response situational judgement test. This test is often used for admissions into people-centered programs, such as medical and veterinary schools. To learn more about CASPer, click here.

  • Work/Writing Samples

    Some programs may request a sample of your work. This might be a writing sample or a portfolio of your work. Be sure to follow the submission guidelines set by the program (how many items to include, how long the sample should be, what the sample should demonstrate, etc.). When considering which sample(s) to submit, think about what pieces of your work are most aligned with the type of program you are applying to, and what pieces best represent you as a writer/artist/designer/etc.

  • Interview

    Graduate programs may want to interview as part of the admissions process. The Big Interview platform is a great tool to help you prepare for interviews. With Big Interview, you can utilize the learning modules to learn more about interviewing, and you can record yourself answering questions and get feedback. To learn how to login to Big Interview for the first time, click here. You can also check out our Interview Guide for information about interviewing and how to prepare.