The Process

Many graduate schools require you to apply directly to your program of interest. Others may require separate applications for both the program and the institution. Be sure to know each institution’s application policies and deadlines. Each school will have their application materials on their website, along with the costs for applying. Give yourself time to complete all of the applications necessary so your application is complete before the deadline.

Application Fees

Application fees will vary by institution. For applicants who may have financial difficulty, many programs may be willing to reduce costs or waive application fees. Don't be afraid to ask!  There may be formal programs that will offer these types of reduced costs as well.

FreeApp is designed to increase access to graduate education at Big Ten Academic Alliance universities.  Through this program, prospective students can request a graduate application fee waiver for Ph.D. or Master of Fine Arts programs at participating universities.


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Personal Statements

You will likely be required to write at least one personal statement as a part of your application.  Admissions committees want to admit motivated students with a strong potential for success in their program.  Articulate your interest in the field, focus on your drive to pursue the degree and the actions you took to develop knowledge and skills in the academic area. Also, be sure to write about your future goals and how their program is aligned with your interests and will prepare you to reach your goals.

Be sure to have your statement reviewed before submitting. In addition to review services offered by The Career Center and Writers' Workshop, you may want to have a faculty member read it.


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Resume/ Curriculum Vitae

Many graduate programs require a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) as a part of the application. Make sure to read the instructions to know what the program is expecting.


Admissions professionals utilize your transcripts to verify your degree, GPA, and prerequisite coursework required to enter their graduate program. Illinois students and alumni can order transcripts through the Office of the Registrar.  Most applications require official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions that you have attended. Pay special attention to exactly where to send the transcripts.

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Admissions Exams

Most graduate programs require completion of an admissions exam. Your field of interest determines which standardized test you take.  Many graduate programs require the GRE; most business schools will require the GMAT; and all law schools require the LSAT.  In addition, your program may require other specific exams, such as a GRE Subject Test.  The TOEFL exam may be required for non-native speakers.

The test makers usually provide content guides and sample questions or tests. It is recommended that you take practice tests under timed test conditions to prepare for the exam.

You can choose to take your exam at a location convenient for you. The University of Illinois Testing Center is the location closest to campus.

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Letters of Recommendation

Most, if not all, programs will ask you to submit letters of recommendation to support your application. Letters are a valuable part of your application, so building your network of potential letter writers and requesting letters early in the application process is vital.