Luka Kocic
Institute for Collaborative Education '10
Doctor of Philosophy in Economics
Luka's tip: “Take some time to look into the faculty of the program and the work they are doing to see how it aligns with your interests."
Kendell Monk
Martin Van Buren High School '06
Master of Public Administration
Kendell's tip: "Own the interview process and be creative. Use your interview as a way to ensure the program is the right fit for you."
Stephany M. Vargas
Brooklyn School for Music & Theatre '08
Master of Social Work
Stephany's tip: "Before you commit to a field, use internships to gage what a future job in that field might be like."

Apply to grad school

Why go to graduate school?

  • Improving and increasing your career options
  • Interest in teaching or becoming a professor
  • If you know of a specific program that aligns well with your interests and intended career path
  • Changing your current career
  • As an opportunity to do funded research in a specific field
  • Do you know what you want to do later in life? How will this graduate program help you get there?
  • Can you afford to go to graduate school? Will you have to take out student loans?
  • Are you willing to take on all of the work that grad school will entail?
  • Do you want to stay close to home or attend a program farther away?
  • Will you have to quit your job to go to graduate school?
  • How long do you want to stay in school?
  • How far do you want to take your graduate education? Do you want to get a Master’s degree or a PhD?
  • Make sure that you know what your interests and goals are, and look for programs that will help you advance them
  • If you’re still in contact with college professors in your area of study, reach out to them for advice. As experts in your field who have gone through the graduate school process, they will have insight into what schools have the most reputable programs for your particular field.
  • Research the faculty, student body, location, resources, and alumni employment statistics for each of the programs you’re considering
  • Visit schools and ask faculty and current students personalized questions about their programs
  • Improving and increasing your career options
  • Interest in teaching or becoming a professor
  • If you know of a specific program that aligns well with your interests and intended career path
  • Changing your current career
  • As an opportunity to do funded research in a specific field
  • Do you know what you want to do later in life? How will this graduate program help you get there?
  • Can you afford to go to graduate school? Will you have to take out student loans?
  • Are you willing to take on all of the work that grad school will entail?
  • Do you want to stay close to home or attend a program farther away?
  • Will you have to quit your job to go to graduate school?
  • How long do you want to stay in school?
  • How far do you want to take your graduate education? Do you want to get a Master’s degree or a PhD?
  • Make sure that you know what your interests and goals are, and look for programs that will help you advance them
  • If you’re still in contact with college professors in your area of study, reach out to them for advice. As experts in your field who have gone through the graduate school process, they will have insight into what schools have the most reputable programs for your particular field.
  • Research the faculty, student body, location, resources, and alumni employment statistics for each of the programs you’re considering
  • Visit schools and ask faculty and current students personalized questions about their programs

Year-by-year application steps for current college students

  • Check to see if your school has any five-year degree programs.
  • Think about what subject areas interest you most.
  • Consider taking on a pre-professional track; pre-med, pre-law, and other pre-professional tracks can help you prepare for med school, law school, and other graduate programs.
  • Begin your research on different grad school pathways.
  • Speak with counselors or advisors at your school about how to prepare.
  • Think about your long-term goals and what you see yourself doing later in life, and what academic background you’ll need to get yourself there.
  • Speak with your professors about strong programs in their fields.
  • Decide which area of study you’re going to pursue in grad school.
  • Look at application essay prompts for programs that interest you and start drafting ideas. Once you have drafts, allow a lot of time for revision and ask advisors or mentors to help proofread your essays.
  • Start looking for information on financial aid and scholarships.
  • Begin preparing for graduate school admissions tests and take them in the spring or summer after junior year.
  • Visit schools and talk to staff at each program.
  • Incorporate your research on different programs into your application essays.
  • Take graduate school admissions tests if you haven’t already.
  • Ask professors, faculty, and advisors who know you and your work well for letters of recommendation.
  • Gather and submit application materials that each program asks for, including test score reports, transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and financial aid applications. Make sure to check in with these admissions offices within a few weeks of submitting to ensure that all parts of your application were received.
  • If admissions interviews are required for the programs you applied to, sign up for and attend interviews.
  • After receiving acceptances, visit or contact the schools to help make a decision.
  • When you make a decision about which program to attend, notify the other schools that you will not be attending their programs.
  • Send thank you letters or emails to your letter of recommendation writers and include where you plan to go to graduate school.
  • Check to see if your school has any five-year degree programs.
  • Think about what subject areas interest you most.
  • Consider taking on a pre-professional track; pre-med, pre-law, and other pre-professional tracks can help you prepare for med school, law school, and other graduate programs.
  • Begin your research on different grad school pathways.
  • Speak with counselors or advisors at your school about how to prepare.
  • Think about your long-term goals and what you see yourself doing later in life, and what academic background you’ll need to get yourself there.
  • Speak with your professors about strong programs in their fields.
  • Decide which area of study you’re going to pursue in grad school.
  • Look at application essay prompts for programs that interest you and start drafting ideas. Once you have drafts, allow a lot of time for revision and ask advisors or mentors to help proofread your essays.
  • Start looking for information on financial aid and scholarships.
  • Begin preparing for graduate school admissions tests and take them in the spring or summer after junior year.
  • Visit schools and talk to staff at each program.
  • Incorporate your research on different programs into your application essays.
  • Take graduate school admissions tests if you haven’t already.
  • Ask professors, faculty, and advisors who know you and your work well for letters of recommendation.
  • Gather and submit application materials that each program asks for, including test score reports, transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and financial aid applications. Make sure to check in with these admissions offices within a few weeks of submitting to ensure that all parts of your application were received.
  • If admissions interviews are required for the programs you applied to, sign up for and attend interviews.
  • After receiving acceptances, visit or contact the schools to help make a decision.
  • When you make a decision about which program to attend, notify the other schools that you will not be attending their programs.
  • Send thank you letters or emails to your letter of recommendation writers and include where you plan to go to graduate school.

How to apply to graduate school if you’re a college graduate

  1. Decide what field of study you want to pursue.
  2. Research schools with graduate programs in your field.
  3. Contact professors and other experts in your field of interest to ask about reputable programs. Visit schools if possible.
  4. Look for professors that interest you at each program you plan to apply to and read their work so that you will be able to write more interesting application essays.
  5. After determining which programs you plan to apply to, look carefully at the applications requirements for each. Keep track of deadlines.
  6. If your programs require graduate school admissions tests like the MCAT or GRE, register and begin preparing for the test.
  7. Research scholarships and information about student loans. Think about how you plan to pay for graduate school.
  8. Begin writing your statement of purpose and other application essays.
  9. Ask your college professors that know you and your work especially well, as well as current employers, for letters of recommendation.
  10. Request your official transcript from your college.
  1. Take admissions exams.
  2. Finalize your resume.
  3. Begin filling out application forms.
  4. Find out how to apply for financial aid.
  5. Gather application materials: letters of recommendation, personal statement, other essays, test scores, and your resume.
  6. Put together a contingency plan in case you do not get accepted to any graduate school programs.
  7. Submit your entire application and follow up with schools to ensure that the admissions office has received all of your materials.
  8. Apply for financial aid.
  9. After receiving acceptances, try to visit all of the schools that admitted you to help you make a decision.
  10. Write and send thank you notes to the people who wrote your letters of recommendation, and let them know where you decide to attend.

Graduate school tests: GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Many of the graduate programs you apply to will ask for one of the two versions of the GRE: either the General Test or the Subject Test.

REQUIRED FOR

Most non-professional graduate programs.

COST

$150 for the Subject Test and $205 for the General Test

TEST LENGTH

3 hours for the Subject Test and 4 hours for the General Test

TEST SECTIONS

For the Subject Test, you can choose from the subjects that are offered based on what your graduate program asks for. The current subjects are Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.

The General Test is divided into three sections– Verbal (testing reading comprehension), Quantitative (testing math concepts and problems) and Analytical Writing (testing articulation and ability to support complex ideas).

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Business School

COST

$250

TEST LENGTH

About 4 hours

TEST SECTIONS

Three multiple choice sections– Integrated Reasoning (testing reasoning skills and ability to evaluate information), Quantitative (testing data sufficiency and problem solving), and Verbal (reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction)– and an Analytical Writing Assessment.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Law School

COST

$175 ($265 for late registration)

TEST LENGTH

3.5 hours

TEST SECTIONS

A writing sample and multiple choice sections, including Analytical Reasoning (logic games), Logical Reasoning (solving arguments using logic), and Reading Comprehension (interpreting reading passages).

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Medical School

COST

$305 ($335 for late registration)

TEST LENGTH

7.5 hours

TEST SECTIONS

The MCAT has four sections– Verbal Reasoning (understanding and evaluating information), Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics), Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry), and a writing sample (stating and developing an idea).

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Many of the graduate programs you apply to will ask for one of the two versions of the GRE: either the General Test or the Subject Test.

REQUIRED FOR

Most non-professional graduate programs.

COST

$150 for the Subject Test and $205 for the General Test

TEST LENGTH

3 hours for the Subject Test and 4 hours for the General Test

TEST SECTIONS

For the Subject Test, you can choose from the subjects that are offered based on what your graduate program asks for. The current subjects are Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Literature in English, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology.

The General Test is divided into three sections– Verbal (testing reading comprehension), Quantitative (testing math concepts and problems) and Analytical Writing (testing articulation and ability to support complex ideas).

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Business School

COST

$250

TEST LENGTH

About 4 hours

TEST SECTIONS

Three multiple choice sections– Integrated Reasoning (testing reasoning skills and ability to evaluate information), Quantitative (testing data sufficiency and problem solving), and Verbal (reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction)– and an Analytical Writing Assessment.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Law School

COST

$175 ($265 for late registration)

TEST LENGTH

3.5 hours

TEST SECTIONS

A writing sample and multiple choice sections, including Analytical Reasoning (logic games), Logical Reasoning (solving arguments using logic), and Reading Comprehension (interpreting reading passages).

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

REQUIRED FOR

Medical School

COST

$305 ($335 for late registration)

TEST LENGTH

7.5 hours

TEST SECTIONS

The MCAT has four sections– Verbal Reasoning (understanding and evaluating information), Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics), Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry), and a writing sample (stating and developing an idea).

FAQ

While a graduate degree can be helpful in attaining higher-level positions, it is not always necessary. Many employers consider multiple years of experience in a field or other qualifications to be just as important as a graduate degree. If you are sure that you don’t want to go to graduate school, gaining work experience that will help you move towards your intended career path can also help you get higher-level jobs.

If you have a low undergraduate GPA or test scores, graduate school is not out of reach. Many graduate programs evaluate their applicants holistically, so if you work hard on the rest of your application and stand out in some way (through your personal statement, work experience, extra-curricular activities, or other materials), a low GPA or test scores do not have to mean not going to graduate school. However, be prepared to discuss and explain your grades to admissions committees to make sure they know that a low GPA does not reflect your intelligence.

Resources to search for graduate scholarships:

Additionally, the Mayor's Graduate Scholarship Program for City government employees is available to all full time workers in New York City government with undergraduate college degrees.

If you aren’t sure what kind of career you want to take on, going to graduate school is probably not a great idea. Most graduate programs are extremely specialized and intensive, so it’s best to take time off and work after college if you don’t know what kinds of graduate programs would best suit you. Graduate school is a huge investment of time and money, so make sure you know how the graduate program you apply to will help you long-term.

While a graduate degree can be helpful in attaining higher-level positions, it is not always necessary. Many employers consider multiple years of experience in a field or other qualifications to be just as important as a graduate degree. If you are sure that you don’t want to go to graduate school, gaining work experience that will help you move towards your intended career path can also help you get higher-level jobs.

If you have a low undergraduate GPA or test scores, graduate school is not out of reach. Many graduate programs evaluate their applicants holistically, so if you work hard on the rest of your application and stand out in some way (through your personal statement, work experience, extra-curricular activities, or other materials), a low GPA or test scores do not have to mean not going to graduate school. However, be prepared to discuss and explain your grades to admissions committees to make sure they know that a low GPA does not reflect your intelligence.

Resources to search for graduate scholarships:

Additionally, the Mayor's Graduate Scholarship Program for City government employees is available to all full time workers in New York City government with undergraduate college degrees.

If you aren’t sure what kind of career you want to take on, going to graduate school is probably not a great idea. Most graduate programs are extremely specialized and intensive, so it’s best to take time off and work after college if you don’t know what kinds of graduate programs would best suit you. Graduate school is a huge investment of time and money, so make sure you know how the graduate program you apply to will help you long-term.