Application Preparationfor Graduate or Professional School

Admission into graduate or professional school is competitive. It is important to have a quality application, with a strong academic background combined with experiences to enhance your application. Consider gaining experiences such as summer internships or fellowships, or undergraduate research opportunities. 

Ask for help - at any stage, whether you are thinking about grad school or in the application phase, Career Development is here to help! Call (507-933-7575), use Handshake, or stop in to schedule an appointment. 

Application Materials

The application process for graduate and professional schools requires submission of a variety of items to showcase your ability and experience. Required items may include:

Each school will have different requirements for application, be sure to understand both the program and graduate or professional school application requirements.


It is important to submit your complete application by the deadline. Oftentimes, late or incomplete applications are not given the same consideration or considered at all due to the competitive nature of graduate and professional schools. Some programs even give preference of financial resources to those who apply early. 

Timeline for graduate school applications by year/semester.
Junior Year

Spring and Summer

Senior Year


Senior Year

January and Spring

  • Conduct a self assessment to determine values, interests, skills, and goals.
  • Research areas of interest, institutions, and programs.
  • Talk with faculty, alumni, and professionals in your field about possible programs.
  • Determine testing requirements for the program(s) you're considering applying to and plan for taking tests.
  • Take required graduate admissions tests
  • Contact the graduate school admission department for each school you are considering.
    • Review application and what materials are required or requested.
    • Review funding options, such as assistantships and those application processes.
    • For certain Ph.D. programs, you will need to identify the professor within the program who you would want to study with. Contact the professor before applying to be sure they are accepting students that year.
  • Ask faculty or supervisors to write letters of recommendation.
  • Take required graduate admissions tests if you have not done so already.
  • Check on application deadlines and rolling admission policies.
  • Prepare a personal statement of interests and goals.
  • Complete a student résumé or curriculum vita.
  • Send application materials, which may include the following, to the graduate program(s): application, official transcript, deposit, test scores (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MAT, MCAT, etc.), and letters of recommendation.
  • Visit schools of interest, if possible.
  • For programs with December deadlines, check with all institutions to whom you have submitted an application to make sure your file is complete.
  • Complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • For programs with January to February deadlines, check with all institutions to whom you have submitted an application to make sure your file is complete.
  • You should be notified about admittance and/or assistantships sometime between mid-March and mid-April.
  • Visit institutions that accept you.
  • After receiving word of acceptance and making your decision, send a letter of confirmation to the institution of your choice. Notify other colleges and universities of your decision so they may admit students on their waiting list.
  • Send thank-you notes to people who wrote your recommendation letters, informing them of your success.


Having the financial resources to attend graduate or professional school is important. There are many ways to receive funding to assist with the costs of attending. Funding options can include student loans, assistantships (paid, part-time internships), grants, fellowships or scholarships. Every school or program has a unique application and timeline process for funding. Typically admission applications and funding applications occur concurrently.


Some graduate and professional schools require an interview as a part of the application process. The interview is an opportunity for the graduate schools to learn about your qualifications and an opportunity for you to explore the program. 

Updated 7/27/22 JV