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Washington State University Graduate School

Preparing for Graduate School

Prepare During Your Freshman Year


  • Explore your interests and abilities.
  • Talk to and visit your academic support system, including advisors, counselors, professors, and graduate students.
  • Develop effective study habits and skills.
  • Attend workshops, tutorials, guest speaker events and campus presenters.
  • Establish a GPA of at least 3.0.

Prepare During Your Sophomore Year

Assessing options

  • Define and establish your personal, life, and career goals.
  • Make contacts in your chosen area.
  • Identify potential mentoring relationships with professors and graduate students.
  • Conduct independent research with a professor.
  • Attend graduate and professional school fairs and research presentations.

Prepare During Your Junior Year

Committing and preparing

  • Continue to define and reestablish personal, life and career goals.
  • Strengthen mentoring relationships.
  • Discuss your interests with professors and others.
  • Explore different types of graduate programs. Visit campuses and departments when possible.
  • Research standardized tests, test dates and required fees.
  • Participate in a summer research internship/experience.

Prepare During Your Senior Year

Applying and selecting

  • Take standardized tests (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc).
  • Apply early. Electronic applications are standard for most programs and universities. Inquire about deadlines and other important dates.
  • Stay organized. Applying to graduate programs is time- and labor-intensive. Build an organization system to keep the parts of each application together.
  • Initiate and maintain funding opportunities, like RAs, TAs, GAs, scholarships, grants, etc.
  • Apply for financial aid (FAFSA) and other external funding opportunities.