Grad School Application Components
A graduate school application generally consists of multiple parts:
- Online application/Questionnaire
- Statement of purpose or personal statement
- Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Letters of recommendation
- Writing sample
- Standardized test scores
As you assemble a list of schools to consider applying to, it’s helpful to keep a centralized database (Excel spreadsheet, or something similar) to keep track of deadlines, action items, etc.
Most schools will have candidates complete an online questionnaire asking them to input basic information about themselves and their preparation for graduate work.
Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A professional resume may be appropriate for many master’s degree programs as well as MD and JD programs. For this purpose, your resume can be up to two pages, longer than a one-page work resume.
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is the academic version of your resume. It speaks to a largely academic audience and is generally used when applying for academic positions, research, grants, and admission to some graduate programs. It allows you to provide an extensive list of these accomplishments and, therefore, often spans several pages. The focus of a CV is on you: your training, your interests, and your work. Your professors may ask for you to send them a copy of your CV, for example, if you ask them for a letter of recommendation.
See Career Advancement’s CV guide for tips on how to write a CV, and reach out to faculty and graduate students in your field of interest to get more information on CVs in your specific discipline.
Statement of Purpose
A statement of purpose is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee about your career goals, why you want to enroll in that specific program, and the experiences that have prepared you to succeed in graduate school.
- Keep your statement brief (probably no more than three single-spaced pages) and adhere to the guidelines provided by the school.
- Describe how your interests fit with the particular school to which you are applying or match particular strengths of the program.
- Include relevant experience: courses in your discipline and related to your discipline, papers you have written (hypotheses, data, theory, and method used), a synopsis of your BA paper, as well as any relevant research assistantships, jobs, and/or internships.
- Please watch our personal statements video and make an appointment with a career adviser for personalized support with preparing your statement.
Letters of Recommendation
- Choose faculty members who have worked with you closely and know your academic work well to write your letters of recommendation.
- These letters should support the application by offering detailed commentary about the applicant’s academic achievements and potential for research.
- Make an appointment with a potential recommender by e-mail or Zoom for the purpose of discussing a possible letter of recommendation.
- At a minimum, provide one month’s notice before the deadline, and remember that many faculty may be less available during the summer.
- If faculty agree to write for you, you may have to remind them as your deadline draws near.
- Give potential writers a polite way to decline if they are unable to write the kind of letter you need.
- Some programs require a writing sample. Submit a clean copy of any writing sample. You may want to include a brief abstract of your sample to provide context.
- Talk to your faculty and mentors about what to submit as a writing sample. Be sure to keep within the stated page length.
- A completed BA Thesis (or some other thoroughly edited piece of professional writing) is often a great writing sample to send.
- If you use some other sample (a term-paper, for instance) the piece should be thoroughly refined/proofread before you submit it as a writing sample.
- The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is required for admission to various master’s and doctoral programs, as well as some veterinary medicine programs and certain fellowship/scholarship competitions.
- Most students take the general exam, which is divided into three sections to evaluate verbal skills, quantitative skills, and analytical writing aptitude.
- Subject tests are currently administered in eight areas and evaluate knowledge in a specific field. Not all graduate programs require subject tests.
- The general exam is a computer-based (CBT), adaptive-learning test and is offered throughout the year pending seat availability.
- Study guides and subject test date information is available at the GRE website.
- The GRE is offered in testing centers and virtually.
- The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is required for business schools and some other types of professional schools.
- The GMAT is divided into three sections to evaluate verbal, analytical, and quantitative aptitude.
- The exam is a computer-based test (CBT) and is offered throughout the year pending seat availability.
- To have a transcript sent out, you may order one at my.uchicago.edu.
- Log in to your myUChicago account
- Hover your mouse over “Academics”
- Hover over “academic records”
- Click “Order official transcripts”
- Electronic transcripts can take 1-2 business days to process, and hard copies can take 1-3 business days to be sent out (plus however long it takes to reach the destination), so plan accordingly!
- Order a personal copy well before the application deadline to check for inaccuracies. Always have an extra, sealed copy of your transcript on hand, as you never know when you may need another copy.