Applying to Graduate School

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The graduate school application process is a long one and the best advice is to be informed and start early! Review our Application Timeline to stay on top of the process!


Each school will have a distinct application. Often times, you will need to fill out a graduate school application to get into each university, as well as an application for the academic department. Read through your applications carefully and proofread thoroughly as a careless mistake could affect your admittance!

Letters of Reference

Letters of reference are required and must be academic in nature. Make sure your references can attest to your qualifications and academic ability. Request these letters from faculty members far in advance (a minimum of two weeks). Provide the recommender with a copy of your resume and other information that will help them draft a detailed and positive letter. Always send a thank you note to your references.


Applications will require transcripts from each school you have attended. You can request official transcripts from the Registrar’s Office.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Certain applications may ask you to provide a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Remember to tailor your resume or CV for graduate school, just as you would if you were applying for a job.

Application Fee

Application Fees vary in price, but most schools require payment when you submit your application. Keep in mind that these fees can add up quickly so budget accordingly.

Question Responses

Many graduate programs will ask for a personal statement and/or responses to particular questions often addressing your desire to enter a particular field and earn an advanced degree. Each school will ask specific questions, so tailor your response to the topics they want you to address. Focus on what makes you a unique and qualified candidate and your desire to enter that particular graduate school.

Personal Statement

View our Personal Statement page for detailed information on this critical portion of your graduate school application.


More and more schools are requiring interviews as part of the application process. Whether you interview in person or by phone, individually or with a committee, you need to be fully prepared. Consider discussing your interview with the MU Career Center and carefully review our interviewing resources.


Schools may also request a portfolio. Carefully review all the admissions requirements prior to sending off your application. Partial applications will not be considered.

Tips for Success

Be proactive in the graduate school application process. Things can go wrong, faculty members may forget to write letters, emails can be lost. The following checklist can help you avoid problems:

  • Take your graduate exam well in advance of the application deadline in the event you discard your score and re-take the test.
  • Send reminders to your faculty references about letters of recommendation. Give them a cushion from the actual due date.
  • Review deadlines for financial aid applications. They often differ from that of the graduate school and/or academic department.
  • Verify application procedures for each school to which you apply. Typically, you must apply to the academic department as well as the graduate school.
  • Most applications are submitted online, so be sure to print and save a copy for your records.
  • Contact the graduate school to confirm your application materials have arrived.
  • Save all communication from faculty and admissions contacts.
  • Determine when final decisions will occur.