Celebrate 50 Years
Career Services

The Application Process

Gather information early. It is a good idea to begin seriously considering graduate school at least a year before you begin further study. Application deadlines vary, and it is important to know a particular institution’s deadline well in advance. Generally speaking, the deadlines fall between January and March. Applications by those requesting consideration of financial support (scholarships/assistantships) always have earlier deadlines. Some schools have rolling admissions, which means they accept students throughout the year and may not have a particular deadline.

Most schools have information available on their Web sites. Increasingly, they are expecting your application materials to be completed online.

Colleges and universities usually require specific graduate admissions tests, and departments sometimes have their own requirements as well. Most programs will require the following items:

Application Form

Make sure it is neat. Before typing your final version, prepare copies for practice versions.

Essay

The essay varies from school to school and is often the most difficult part of the application process.  Your essay should be well organized, succinct, customized, and proofread. Remember to stay on topic and consider your audience. The essay is your chance to demonstrate why you want to attend graduate school, your strengths and achievements, and why you are interested in a particular department or program. The essay should represent your best writing efforts. It is a good idea to ask for input from others on your essay. Faculty members who are involved in graduate programs are often good mentors in this process. You can also take advantage of the writing lab to have your essay proofread. You can contact the Writing Center at 260-481-5740. Keep in mind that when evaluating essays, admission committees may consider the following influences in their decisions:

  • Expectations of the program and future career opportunities
  • Major areas of interest
  • Writing ability
  • Research or work experience
  • Immediate and long-term goals
  • Educational background
  • Reasons for pursuing graduate studies at that institution and in a particular field
  • Maturity level
  • Personal uniqueness — what you have to add to the diversity of the entering class

Transcripts

Official transcripts for IPFW students can be obtained by contacting the Office of the Registrar
(Kettler Hall, Room 107). You can also visit www.ipfw.edu/registrar for more information on obtaining transcripts. 

Standardized Tests

All standardized tests are offered periodically throughout the year. The commonly taken tests are the GRE (for most academic disciplines), GMAT (business), MAT (psychology, education), LSAT (law), and MCAT (medicine).

Prepare for your exam by studying test guides and software, enrolling in test preparation courses, or taking practice tests. Guides are available at libraries and bookstores. 

Check with the school where you are applying to see when you should take the test. It is a good idea to take the entrance exam during your junior year or the beginning of your senior year. It typically takes six weeks for your scores to reach the schools when you are applying. You may retake the exam to improve your score, and the results are valid for up to five years.

Contact Testing Services (Kettler Hall, Room 232B, 260-481-6600) for more information regarding these tests.

Letters of Recommendation

It is a good idea to start this process early and allow enough time for the authors of each letter to complete the task. Select faculty and professionals who know you well and are recent references. Ask them if they can make a strong recommendation for you. Prepare them with the following information: recommendation form, due date, stamped and addressed envelope (unless their materials are to be sent electronically), and supporting documents such as a résumé, transcript, and research papers.  Make sure they know your deadlines. It is a good idea to select at least one extra reference in case you fall short. Remember to thank your references, and stay in contact with them.

Application Timeline

End of Junior Year

  • Research areas of interest, institutions, and programs.
  • Talk with your advisors about application requirements.
  • Register and prepare for appropriate graduate admission tests.
  • Investigate national scholarships and financial aid.

Summer before Senior Year

  • Request application materials.
  • Take required graduate admission tests.
  • Visit schools of interest.
  • Write your application essay.
  • Check on application deadlines and rolling admissions.
  • For medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry, or law school, you may need to register for the national application or data assembly service most programs use.

First Semester of Senior Year

  • Obtain letters of recommendation.
  • Take graduate admission tests if you haven’t already, or retake if so desired.
  • Submit completed applications.

Last Semester of Senior Year

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and financial aid profile, if required (www.fafsa.ed.gov) and turn in at the beginning of January.
  • Check with schools to ensure application file is complete.
  • Once accepted, visit schools to which you have been accepted.
  • Send deposits, fall transcripts, and registration material.
  • Notify other universities that accepted you of your decision, so that they may admit other students on their waiting lists.
  • Send thank-you notes to people who wrote you letters of recommendation, informing them of your success.