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Research & Application Timeline

The following is a timeline of suggested activities to help you stay on track while researching and applying to graduate school. If you are applying to professional school (e.g., Medical, Law, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy) go to the centralized application services for specific information and deadlines on your program.

Starting early has its advantages. Some students may begin the process earlier than junior year; however, if you get started later, it is still possible to be successful.

Junior Year


  • Begin researching schools and programs of interest to you.
  • Meet with faculty, career counselors, and your advisor to discuss programs and degree options.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with people who could potentially serve as references for you. Expand your professional network through club activities, student chapters of professional organizations, family, faculty, and staff.
  • Participate in research, work, or volunteer experiences in your field of interest.
  • Visit UMD Career and Internship Services to get assistance with questions regarding researching or applying to graduate school and writing your personal statement.


Senior Year

Applications become available in late summer or early fall. Check schools’ websites and apply early! Applying early may increase your chances of being admitted. Early application may be required to be considered for teaching, research, and graduate assistantships or fellowships. Some graduate programs may have rolling admissions, so applications are evaluated as they are received. Check with your programs of interest for their admission policies.

There are many steps involved in applying to graduate school so it may be helpful to set up an organizational system. You may want to use the “Researching Graduate Schools” spreadsheet (Excel).


  • Finalize the number and list of schools to which you will apply.
  • Begin completing applications.
  • If not completed, finish preparing for and take admissions tests.


  • Identify and contact at least three people to write letters of recommendation. Provide copies of your personal statement and resume to help them craft their letters.
  • Finish writing your personal statements and request feedback from UMD Career and Internship Services counselors, faculty, faculty mentor and academic adviser.
  • Complete and submit applications for admission and assistantships and fellowships. Be aware that schools may require you to send materials to BOTH the graduate school AND the program department.
  • If not completed, take required admissions tests.


  • Confirm that your letters of recommendation have been sent by deadlines.
  • Send thank you notes to recommendation writers.
  • If not done, complete applications for admission, assistantships, and fellowships.
  • Verify all application materials have been received by schools before their application deadlines.
  • Develop contingency plans - what will you do if you are not accepted?


  • Complete the Federal Student Aid Application, FAFSA. You are considered an independent student for financial aid purposes for graduate school.
  • Finish and send in any remaining applications, verifying all materials have been received before the application deadlines.
  • Begin preparing for graduate school interviews if they are part of the process.
  • Attend preview days hosted by your schools or programs.


  • Follow-up with institutions from whom you have not heard.
  • If you receive an offer of financial support (scholarship, fellowship, assistantship) from a Council of Graduate Schools member, you have until April 15 to accept or decline the offer.
  • Send thank you notes to interviewers.
  • Contact your references, professors, and UMD Career and Internship Services to let them know where you were accepted and where you plan to attend.
  • Fill out the UMD Career and Internship Services Graduate Follow-Up Report Survey.


  • Continue to apply for financial support if available.
  • Make housing arrangements.

and finally . . . ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER!!