Pursuing a Graduate Education
What Can I do to Get Started?
The first step in preparing to apply to graduate school is planning your academic goals and thoroughly understanding the admission process. It is important to learn about programs in your field so that you can tailor your educational experiences to enhance your fit to each program. Explore your decision to attend graduate school by networking with relevant individuals on campus, including program advisors, faculty mentors, and graduate students.
Clarify Your Career Plans and Goals
Determine the field of study and type of degree program that you want to pursue:
- What are your career aspirations?
- Are you interested in an "Academic" or "Professional" program?
- What institution is a good fit for you and your studies?
Research the Requirements of Your Graduate Program
Review the admissions criteria for reaching your academic goal. Consider the following requirements:
- What general coursework and subject preparation do you need to get into your desired graduate program?
- What type of academic experience and research background is necessary?
- Maintain a competitive GPA. Most graduate schools require a minimum 3.0 GPA, but you may need to maintain a higher average to be a competitive applicant
Plan a Campus Visit
Visit your campuses of interest by attending graduate school fairs and scheduling informational interviews with faculty, graduate students, and staff. Explore the campus and surrounding area to see how students create a healthy and balanced schedule.
- What kind of campus vibe do you want to experience for the duration of your graduate study program?
- What resources are available and accessible for graduate students? (e.g. housing, health services, transportation, etc.)
- What campus and community activities (e.g. volunteer opportunities, organizations, etc.) might interest you?
Talk with Students in Your Field of Study
Graduate students can provide valuable information about their experiences. Ask students about their research progress, academic development, and professional growth. They can also give you insight on the life of a graduate student.
Develop Positive Relationships with Faculty
Talk to faculty in your field of interest to find out about their educational background and recommendations for graduate study. Faculty mentors can give you insight about which programs would be a good fit for your research interests and also provide letters of recommendation.
Participate in Research Programs
Look for opportunities to join a research program that would allow you to work closely with a faculty member and expand your research experience. These experiences can provide better direction towards your chosen academic and professional path. Be proactive!
Spring of Junior Year (Information Gathering)
- Begin researching graduate programs. UCSB has over 45 graduate programs
- Visit university and department websites
- Review department brochures and course offerings
- Read faculty profiles and recent publications
- Research examination test dates, sites, and fees
- Get research experience
Summer After Junior Year (Materials Gathering)
- Identify specific department deadlines and requirements
- Contact faculty and staff at your institutions of interest
- Begin preparing materials (statements, letters, etc.)
- Take the required examinations (early!)
- Attend graduate school fairs
Fall of Senior Year (Application Submission)
- Decide where to apply
- Complete applications and submit materials by required deadlines
- Ask about application fee waivers
- Research funding opportunities