Becoming a strong applicant

Your application determines how well your experiences and goals match the offerings of your program of interest. Applications are reviewed as a complete package. All parts are important -- with special emphasis on research experiences.

Show your research potential

Highlight skills and training that make you a great candidate

  • Research experiences at your home institution
  • Honors thesis or independent research
  • Relevant summer research programs or work
  • Honors program work
  • Conferences (local, national, international)
  • Relevant volunteer work or leadership experience


Undergraduate grades can be a strong indicator of your performance in graduate level courses. Take advantage of academic opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills.

  • Special projects
  • Relevant classes outside your curriculum
  • Workshops and seminars

Beyond Research and Discovery

Graduate programs are interested in candidates that are critical thinkers and problem solvers, but they also want scholars from different backgrounds and experiences who can bring a new light and perspective to their work. Show them you're a well-rounded applicant who looks to make a contribution to society and expand the reach of your work.

Reviewers look for:

  • Leadership experiences
  • Mentoring & teaching
  • Volunteer engagement


Talk to faculty and graduate students in your field of interest on and off campus. Get their perspective about life as a graduate student at a particular institution and ask about what their programs look for in an applicant. The more people know you and can appreciate your commitment to your work the better.

Don't be shy

Think about all the things you've accomplished in your journey to graduate school and make sure your achievements get their due.

  • Awards or special recognition for your work
  • Unique and/or prestigious academic or professional affiliations
  • Publications
  • Conference presentation

Paying for Graduate School

As you compile a list of potential graduate programs, pay special attention to funding opportunities offered by your potential graduate school and look for additional resources elsewhere. If you have questions, contact your program of interest.