What Can I Expect From The Process of Applying to Grad School?

Applying to graduate school can be a surprisingly stressful time for many potential students. There are a number of steps required to submit a strong, successful grad school application.

Completing Your GRE’s

The first step for many students to become prepared for grad school applications is to complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). This is the definitive graduate school standardized test and is accepted by graduate programs in many areas of study throughout the United States. Almost all graduate programs in the country require completion of the GRE’s before application. This test is offered at various testing center locations and the cost is around $195 per attempt. Students have the option of taking the test more than once. Some graduate psychology programs will require students to complete the GRE Psychology Subtest. This test is general taken separately from the GRE and the cost is an additional $150.

Gathering Your Materials

Once your testing is complete you can begin gathering your materials. Most graduate psychology programs will ask students to submit, in addition to the application itself, letters of recommendation from professors and employers, copies of transcripts, GRE’s scores and a personal statement or essay. Some programs will require students to answer questions, complete an essay on a particular topic, complete an interview process or many other requirements.

Submitting Your Application

Once you have gathered your materials you can submit your application to the program. When you submit your application pay careful attention to the following:

  • Application Deadlines – Most programs will not consider those applications that are submitted late
  • Application Requirements – Create a checklist for each school to list all of the materials required by each program. You many find that you have to wait for letters of recommendation or transcripts to be sent. Stay on top of what has and has not been completed.
  • Follow Up – It is appropriate to follow up with the Admissions Department to make sure everything has arrived.

The Waiting Game

The next step can be the hardest of them all, waiting to hear. The length of time between submission of the application and receiving word varies depending upon the school and the program. In some cases it will take months. Students are typically notified once their application has been received and once all supplemental materials have been received. Letters of acceptance, wait list or denial are traditionally mailed once the decisions have been made.


As most potential graduate students apply to multiple schools part of the process is choosing which school to attend. Students must wait for all letters to arrive before making their decision (unless of course your top choice chooses you). The letter of acceptance will give you specific instructions on how you can accept your letter of intent.

The process of applying to graduate training in Psychology can be long and grueling. By understanding that is a sometimes length process you can more adequately prepare for the road ahead. With patience, organization and preparedness you can be on your way to a graduate education in Psychology.