What Admission Deadlines Do I Need to Think About When Applying to a MS?

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What Admission Deadlines Do I Need to Think About When Applying to a MS?

As you prepare to move from your undergraduate program to a graduate program, you are going to come across many deadlines. In general, the process is similar to what you had to do when applying to your undergraduate program. However, at the graduate level, competition is fiercer and getting into the school of your choice may not be quite as easy, so paying close attention to deadlines becomes even more important. Schools generally have limits on the number of students they admit to each degree program. Because of this, you need to ensure your application package is complete and ready before the application deadline. In fact, you may be best served by being ready for the early deadlines offered by some schools or at least getting your application in far ahead of the final deadline.

  • Your First Step

    The first thing you should do is get an application package and deadline schedule from your school. This should include all the important dates and information you need to know to apply to a graduate program at that school. You can then begin to make a list of the things you need to prepare for your application. Application deadlines are usually based on what semester you will attend the school. If you are planning on starting classes in the fall, then deadlines may be in the preceding spring or even earlier, so start working on your application as soon as you decide which school you want to attend. You do not have to be finished with your undergraduate program to begin the application process. In fact, unless you want to take time off between your undergraduate program and graduate program, you will need to get started before you graduate. Never wait until the last minute to send in your application. You should aim to complete it well ahead of time. This will ensure you do not miss the deadline or forget to include an important required document with your application. It will also help you to avoid the stress that nearly missing a deadline can cause. Your application package will also tell you what must be included with your application. This can include items such as test scores and visa information. All of these things will have their own deadlines for completing them or obtaining them, so you must also pay attention to all of those dates and plan ahead so you don't miss them. Here is a look at some items you may have to include with your application and their deadlines. Letters of Recommendation Most schools will require you to include letters of recommendation that speak to your potential and abilities. These should be from previous professors or professionals you have worked with. They will help serve as character references and enable the school to get a better idea of who you are. They should come from someone who is respected and who will give an honest evaluation of you and your abilities. You must plan ahead when it comes to these letters. You want to give the people you ask enough time to properly write them. Keep in mind, writing such a letter could be difficult for someone who has never written one before. Also, you have to be mindful of the person's schedule. For example, asking for a letter from a professor during finals may not be the best thing to do because the professor may not have the extra time. Try to ask at a time when the person is not too busy with other commitments and make sure to ask well in advance of when you need it. Transcripts You will need to secure your transcripts from your previous educational institutions. When you applied for your undergraduate program, your high school may have handled this for you and sent your transcript to the college. However, in a graduate program, you will probably have to do the work of getting your undergraduate transcripts. You want to request them early because a school may take some time to get it to you. It is a good idea to request them right after your finish your undergraduate program, so you can ensure you have them in time for your Master's Degree application deadline. Be sure to pay attention to any special instructions a school may have for requesting transcripts. If you fail to follow the guidelines, the school could not process your request and delay your application. Most schools have specific forms you must fill out and a specific office that handles such requests. Test Scores Schools will require you to submit scores for standardized tests when you apply. What tests you will need to take depend on the school you will attend and your chosen field of study. For example, if you are heading to law school, you will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), but if you are going to medical school, you'll be required to submit your Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, and for a degree program in management, you need to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). A universal requirement for most programs is the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE), so you should plan on taking this test. If you are an international student, you may have to submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, Pearson Test of English or International English Language Testing System.   Regardless of which tests you must take, you need to pay close attention to test availability dates and your application deadline. Scores must be submitted with your application, so you need to take the test early enough that you can get your scores back before your application deadline. You can get testing dates and information from the testing agencies. For example, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) handles the administration of the LSAT, so if you need to take this test, visit the LSAC's website to get testing dates. Your school will likely be able to provide you with information about testing dates or point you in the right direction to find the information. Also, keep in mind that certain scores are usually required. Check with your school for these requirements. You may want to take a test more than once to help get a higher score, so plan for this as well when signing up for exam dates. Do not forget to schedule time to study for the tests, which can be a lengthy process, depending on the test.   Immigration Documents If you are an international student, you must have your immigration documents in order. This means securing your student visa. To apply to a school, you will need an I-20, which is a Certificate of Eligibility. In order to qualify, you must show that you can get into a graduate program and that your English level is high enough to attend the school and succeed in your coursework. You also have to show you are able to pay for your education costs. You must submit proof in the form of documents, such as the following: Standardized English language test scoresAcademic recordsFinancial aid statements The school may be able to issue you your I-20 if it is an approved and accredited school. You can then use this to get your F Student Visa, which you must have to legally stay in the country and attend school. Remember that your visa is secured through the government, so it will not be a fast process. You must plan ahead for this. Make sure you do not let your visa expire and always pay attention to renewal dates and guidelines.

  • Create a Schedule

    In order to properly manage all the different deadlines pertaining to your application, it is a good idea to create a schedule. Your schedule should clearly mark the final application deadline. You also want to choose the date when you would like to get your application submitted or your goal deadline for application. Also, include the dates you want to secure your I-20, if applicable, and take your standardized tests. Finally, be sure you schedule in a time to meet with the people who you want to write your letters of recommendation. Stick to your schedule. Set reminders on your calendar so you do not miss important appointments and so you have documentation ready when you need it. Always plan ahead. Try to be ready prior to a deadline so you do not have to rush at the last minute and risk missing it. Having a schedule can help you ensure you do not miss any deadlines and can get your application in on time.

  • Special Note for International Students

    If you are an international student who is not currently in the US, you will need to account for time differences and possible delays when sending in your application. You may also need to arrange travel plans and should account for delays there as well. It is a good idea if you are out of the country to complete your application far ahead of the deadline so there is no issue with getting it in on time. As you prepare to apply for your Master's Degree program, you must keep important deadlines in mind. Do note that these are general guidelines on deadlines and may be different for your chosen school. You should always review your school's application information for exact deadlines. To get more help and information, visit School Apply.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.