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Breaking Down 5 Common Grad School Requirements

Dec 22, 2021
5 min Read

The application process for graduate school can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is some organization and preparation. To help you on your journey back to school, we’ve compiled a list of the most common grad school requirements you’ll likely encounter.

Use this guide as you begin assembling a top-notch application that will impress review committees.


5 grad school requirements you should expect 

While every graduate program has different requirements, there are certain things that most will ask for. As you begin compiling application materials, pay special attention to the following components.


1. Bachelor’s degree diploma 

This is probably the most obvious requirement for grad school, so we couldn’t leave it off of our list. You will need to show proof of your bachelor’s degree earned. Official transcripts from all educational institutions attended 

An official college transcript is a detailed record of your previous schoolwork. Official transcripts come directly from your school’s registrar. You’ll have to email or call to request an electronic or paper copy. Most universities charge a small fee for this service. 

Your official transcript should have the following information:

  • Student information 
  • A list of all classes taken 
  • A list of dates attended and majors 
  • Grade point average

It’s important to note that unofficial transcripts, which are typically free and list only class titles and grades, typically won’t be accepted to fulfill this grad school requirement.


2. Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)

Graduate programs are looking for candidates who are passionate about the field of study and have a history of academic and professional success. At this point in your career, it may have been a while since you’ve updated your resume. But for your grad school application, it’s best to start from scratch and customize a resume or CV for the program you’re applying to.

Keep the following tips in mind when sitting down to craft your resume: 

  • Start with a simple template  
  • Craft a clear and compelling objective 
  • Write in detail about your previous education 
  • Highlight work and life experience 
  • Include a list of relevant skills 
  • Make sure it’s clean and error-free

Need more detailed advice? Check out our article “How to Write a Resume for Grad School.”


3. Personal statement

Most graduate schools in the United States ask candidates to write and submit a personal statement as part of their application. This is an essay that tells the story of a candidate’s motivations and aspirations for entering a chosen field. The requirements and specifics will vary depending on the program, but it is typically one to two pages in length, double-spaced.

Before you get started, try sitting down and reflecting on some of the following questions: 

  • What makes me different or unique from other applicants?  
  • When did I become interested in this field and why? 
  • What am I most excited to learn and do in this program if I’m accepted? 

If you’re looking for more direction, check out our article “How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School.”


4. Letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important requirement for grad school. Most programs will require two or three letters from persons other than friends or family members who can speak to your performance in an academic or professional setting.

Asking for a letter of recommendation can feel intimidating but rest assured that it’s a completely normal part of academia. The key is to make sure you’re engaging with someone who you’ve worked with before and can elaborate on specific traits about you that make you an ideal candidate for the program.

Give your recommender plenty of advance notice (ideally four to six weeks) and provide them with as much information as possible. If you want your recommenders to create unique, high-quality letters, help them out by providing ample information to pull from.  

Sending them the following items could be beneficial: 

  • A current transcript 
  • An updated resume or CV  
  • Your personal statement 
  • Any applicable research proposal 
  • Relevant extracurricular activities (i.e., research, internships, fraternity/sorority, academic societies, volunteer projects) 
  • A brief outline of your career goals 
  • A list of all the graduate schools and specific programs you are applying to 
  • Detailed instructions for submitting the letter of recommendation 
  • A clearly marked deadline for submission 

For further guidance on this requirement, read our article “How to Secure the Best Letters of Recommendation for Grad School.” 


5. Test scores

Some programs require you to take a standardized test and earn above a certain score to be eligible. Others may require you complete an exam but do not set a minimum score. This grad school requirement used to be more commonly imposed, but now varies greatly depending on the school and program. So be sure to do your research and allow plenty of time for studying in advance.

Examples of common standardized tests for graduate or professional schools include: 

  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) 
  • Law School Admission Test (LSAT) 
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) 
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) 
  • Praxis exams for teachers

Prepare to ace your application

Now that you’re aware of some of the grad school requirements you can expect to encounter, you can begin preparing a top-notch application. If you’re still looking for the right grad school to help you reach your career goals, take some time to learn about the nationally recognized online graduate degree programs at Creighton University.


Ready to take the next steps? Visit our How to Apply page today!

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