Graduate Education

For a Strong Graduate Application, Plan Ahead

A Clarkson graduate student sitting in a class at the Capital Region Campus listens to what is being explained.

If you’re serious about applying to grad school, one of the most important early steps is to check out the application process and deadlines for the schools that you’re considering. Most schools will want information—such as letters of recommendationthat can take weeks or more for you to pull together. The sooner you know what’s required, the sooner you can start preparing.

Be sure to check whether a school uses a rolling admissions process—considering applications as they come in and granting acceptances on a rolling basis until a program is full. If that’s the case, applying early could give you an advantage.

5 common components

A typical grad school application includes most or all of the following:

1. College transcripts

Start by checking the transcript requirements for the graduate schools to which you’re applying. Most will want official transcripts—sent directly from the colleges you’ve attendedfor all undergraduate and graduate courses that you have completed. Once you know the requirements, request your transcripts by contacting the Office of the Registrar at the schools you’ve attended. In most cases, you can find instructions and fee information online. Make the requests well before the application deadline so your transcripts arrive in plenty of time.

Are you a Clarkson undergraduate who is considering Clarkson for grad school? Let our Graduate Admissions team know, and they will arrange to get your transcript and add it to your application.

Clarkson does not charge for transcripts. Students may request rush mailings for an additional fee.

2. GRE/GMAT test scores

Depending on the program, you might be required to provide results of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or GRE subject matter tests. Most business programs will want scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). That means you’ll need to allow time to prepare for the necessary tests, to take the tests and to have your scores sent to the schools you’re considering. Most test results are good for five years. If you expect to enroll in grad school within that time period, it might make sense to take the tests during your third or final year as an undergraduate. Test preparation services are available at Clarkson. The university also is a testing site.

3. Resume/CV

Most grad school applications will require a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and will indicate which they prefer. What’s the difference? A resume tends to focus more on professional experience and a CV on academic history. For both, list most recent accomplishments first, proof carefully and ask someone whose opinion you trust to read your resume or CV before you submit it. Help is available at the Clarkson Career Center.

4. Letters of recommendation

Recommendations should come from professors or advisors who know you well enough to provide insights into your accomplishments and your goals. You can help fill in the gaps by providing a copy of your transcript and your resume/CV, along with information on why you’re applying to grad school. Make sure you give recommending professors plenty of time—several weeks or longer—so they can draft a thoughtful letter.

Once you get your decision letter and choose your graduate school, let your professors know what you’ve decided and reiterate your gratitude for their role in helping to make that choice possible.

5. Essay

Depending on the school, the essay might be called the statement of purpose, personal statement or letter of intent. In any case, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate why you’re a good fit for a particular program. Answer the question clearly, provide examples of what you’ve accomplished and link those accomplishments to the program and your long-term goals. Allow enough time to edit the statement to make it as strong as possible—and to enlist help from others, if needed. Here again, the Clarkson Career Center can help.

Explore Clarkson’s programs and learn more about application requirements for programs that interest you. If you are a Clarkson undergraduate student, visit the Career Center for help with your application.

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