Grad School

Thinking about Graduate School?

When thinking about applying to or attending graduate and professional schools, it can be very different from your undergraduate experience.

Often, more focus is placed on the department or program you are interested in, as opposed to the school. Here is an overview of some things to anticipate and assist you in applying to graduate or professional school. Contact the programs you are interested in and ask questions. If you have the time and resources, visit a campus and talk to current students. Just keep in mind this is your first opportunity to be memorable; make sure to be professional.


Here are additional resources to help you find graduate programs in your field of interest:


Facts to Consider

Faculty and research

  • What is the program's focus you are applying to? Does it align with your background and future career or research goals?

Practical experience opportunities

  • Does the program you are considering offer real work experience through teaching, research, assistantships, rotations, or internships?


  • Graduate tuition is often different than undergraduate tuition. Be sure to ask about any special program such as in-state tuition, live-on opportunities, or employment or internships available to your program. Ask about insurance, a gym membership, meal plans, or other services that could be included in your funding package.
    Wichita State graduate tuition and costs


  • In addition to filling out a FAFSA, apply for department-specific scholarships. Also, ask about working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Grader, Research Assistant, or other position that would help offset costs.

    Would you be able to work a part-time job during school?
    Graduate financial aid and scholarships


  • Some questions you may consider: Will the school be close to friends and family? Is this something that is important to you? Is the neighborhood fitting for your lifestyle and safe? Do you prefer warmer or cooler climates? Are there things to do around campus? What is transportation like?

Pros and Cons

  • Sometimes a school you did not originally consider may outweigh your dream school. Think your options through thoroughly. Talk with a friend, family member, career coach, or advisor about your options.
Application Process


  • Pay attention to application deadlines. Application deadlines can be found on the program webpage. Some programs require you to apply nearly a year in advance.


  • Consider cost of applications. If you are applying to multiple programs or need to pay for placement tests, make sure you are budgeting accordingly. Sometimes, graduate school application fees can be waived if you email the admissions coordinator and ask for assistance.  

Things to remember

  • For some programs, you will submit two applications: one more general application to the college or university and a second to the specific department or program to which you are applying.
  • Some fields, such as Medical School or Occupational Therapy, use a national system where you apply once for all programs.


  • Talk to the advisor at your current school, in addition to working with your contact at the school(s) to which you are applying, to ensure you have completed all the steps of the application process.
  • Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. It is always good to apply to multiple programs with back-ups. If you don't get in to your first-choice, sometimes gaining more experience is important before reapplying.
Resumes or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

What is a resume and CV? 

  • A resume is a 1-2 page summary of your skills, education, and experience. Resume is French for "summary."  
  • Curriculum vitae (CV) is Latin for "course of life." A CV is a longer version of a resume with more detail and stronger focus on your academic, teaching, and research background.  
  • Programs will usually clarify if they want a resume or curriculum vitae or if they will accept either. 
  • Please consider using our resume and CV templates.

Things to remember

  • The sections of a resume and CV can include:
    • Contact Information
    • Academic History
    • Relevant Skills
    • Activities and Organizations (Including Positions Held)
    • Professional Experience (Including Internships and Assistantships)
    • Volunteer Experience
    • Awards and Achievements (Including Scholarships, Grants, Recognition)
    • Publications and Presentations
    • Projects
    • Conferences
    • Relevant Coursework
    • Certifications
    • Areas of Research
    • Exam Results (ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc.) optional


  • For a resume, do not exceed 2 pages. For a CV, you can include as many pages as needed to showcase your experiences.
  • Make sure your resume and CV are Applicant Tracking System (ATS)- friendly. Columns, tables, charts, color blocks, paragraphs, borders, images, logos, color font, etc. should be removed from your resume and CV. Please consider using our resume and CV template.
  • Make an appointment with our Career Coaches to help review and build your resume or CV.  


Personal Statements/ Statement of Purpose/ Statement of Academic Interest/ Statement of Professional Goals

What is a personal statement?

  • This document is meant to give the admissions committee a sense of who you are, why you are interested in the program, what your long-term goals are and how you are a fit for this particular program. Disclaimer: Each program is unique in what they expect in a personal statement. For example, medical school programs may expect a more applied experience and straight forward personal statement and higher education may expect a narrative approach. 

Things to remember

  • If you are applying to multiple programs, you might be able to draft one generic personal statement to be slightly altered for each program you apply to. Be sure to read admission requirements to ensure you are answering any specific questions a school is asking.
  • Tailor your personal statement to the mission and values of each school. 
  • Be sure to mention which faculty you look forward to working with, if applicable. 
  • You may also mention coursework you are interested in taking.  


  • Pay attention to your page length. Realistically, a personal statement should not exceed 1.5-2 pages single-space or 3 pages double-spaced.  
  • A personal statement is your opportunity to tell your story! It is important to find a balance between your narrative and not being too descriptive.  
  • Answer some key questions before you start writing: 
    • What is the main idea you want the admissions committee to walk away with? 
    • Why are you interested in this program? 
    • How are you a good fit for this program? 
    • What makes you unique? 
    • How will this program help you achieve your professional goals? 
    • What academic, professional, or personal experiences are you proud of? 
  • If it is easier to talk things through, try recording yourself. Then, play back the recording, and type out what you said. 
  • Have faculty, staff, and peers read and provide feedback about your personal statement. You may also ask someone who works in the field you would like to work in.  
  • Take advice and feedback into consideration, but recognize that your personal statement is ultimately yours and should reflect your story and experiences. 
  • If you need additional help, make an appointment with our Career Coaches to talk through your ideas and draft an outline. 


Application Essays or Cover Letters

What is an application essay/cover letter? 

  • In addition to a personal statement, some programs will ask you to answer specific essay questions, which you can answer in an application essay. 
  • This is also another opportunity to outline your career goals and reasons for choosing a specific field of study or program. 

 Things to remember

  • Make sure you follow directions, answer the question(s) asked, and stay within length restrictions.
  • Other programs, which include teaching, assistantship, or internship positions, may ask for a cover letter.


  • If you can, find the school's or program's mission statement and values. Focus on what experiences, skills and traits you have that align with the program you are applying for. 


Letters of Recommendation/References

What is a letter of recommendation?

  • A letter of recommendation is an opportunity for others to tell a committee about a student from their perspective.
  • Each program differs on how it handles references. Some will ask for contact information, some will ask for a free form letter, and some will provide a specific form or template for a recommendation letter.

Things to remember

  • Remember to send a Thank You Note to those who wrote letters for you. You may also consider adding a small gift card to the letter as well for coffee (optional).


  • Have at least 3-5 people in mind to ask for a letter of recommendation. This can include faculty, staff, teaching assistants, advisors, supervisors/managers, and bosses. Avoid asking family members and friends. 



What is an academic transcript?

  •  An official transcript is a compilation of all academic classes and grades. Most programs require an official academic transcript. At WSU, these can be requested through the Office of the Registrar. 

Things to remember

  • Transcripts will also sometimes require a small fee to send to a school in your application. 
  • Transcripts can take up to two to three weeks to send to schools, so keep in mind the timeline and deadline of your application. 


  • Keep your transcripts saved in a folder on your computer. 
  • If some programs require a certain GPA and you have taken a class with a grade that does not meet this requirement, consider retaking the class through a community college or online program before applying. 


 Writing Sample

What is a writing sample?

  • A writing sample is a short piece of writing or excerpt that schools use to assess your writing and communication skills. 

Things to remember

  • If the program you are interested in asks for a writing sample, select something you feel is your best work, not necessarily the work you got the highest grade on.  
  • Ask if there are specific guidelines for the type of sample you submit. If there are not, consider choosing something that shows off your writing skills and your analytical skills in a field relevant to your program. 


  • If you are submitting an older paper for your writing sample, be sure to read through your paper for any grammatical errors or language that needs updating. 


Graduate School Interview

What does an interview consist of? 

  • Congratulations! You got an interview for your graduate program.  
  • Most graduate programs will host interviews, either in an individual or group setting, to select potential candidates.  
  • While many applicants are eliminated from the review process due to mediocre essays, poor resumes or CVs, poor recommendations, or lack of originality, approximately 30 to 50% of applicants make it to the interview round. 
  • Admissions committee members are determining whether you are a good fit for the program and if the program is a good fit for your career goals and interests.

Things to remember

  • You are not only interviewing for the program but you are also interviewing the program yourself. Your prepared questions are your opportunity to learn more, so make them count. If you do not feel the program is a good fit for you, it is best to search for other options.  


  •  Interview Preparation
    • Prepare questions for the interviewer beforehand.  
    • Know your strengths and weaknesses.  
    • Do not interrupt the interviewer. 
    • Know your professional and career goals.  
    • Know your research interests, if applicable.  
    • Think of 2-3 solid examples of experiences you can utilize in your answers.  
    • Know your "why". 
    • Research the college or university, including their mission and values.  
    • Practice your body language and nonverbals in a mirror or with peers.  
    • Dress professionally and arrive 15 minutes early.  
    • For virtual interviews, make sure you have a reliable Wi-Fi and your camera and sound are working correctly.  
    • For phone interviews, make sure you are speaking clearly and in a quiet setting without distractions.  
    • If you cannot make the interview for any reason, let the admissions committee know.  
  • Before making an appointment with a career coach to practice your interviewing skills, please specify in your pre-appointment survey that you are interviewing for graduate school. Include the program name, location, and any additional information you believe is necessary.  



Entrance Exams

Certain disciplines require entrance exams.

Many (but not all) programs require entrance exams. Be sure to check to see which, if any test is required for your program. Sometimes programs will list a specific score as a cut off, but often programs will simply include your score as another piece of your application to be considered.

Below are a list of entrance exams and links to more information:


To help navigate this process, make an appointment today with a career coach to talk about your application materials, including your personal statement, or practice interviewing skills. Call (316) 978-3688 or Schedule an appointment through Handshake

Book an Appointment