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Attending Graduate School

The planning process for graduate school involves exploring, researching, preparing, applying, and deciding. It typically spans nine to 12 months.

Application cycles and deadlines vary by program, so plan ahead. For help at any point in the process, schedule an appointment with your career advisor.

Applying to Graduate School


  • Your career goals and how graduate school would help you to reach them.
  • Graduate programs that support your career goals.
  • Funding options for graduate study.
  • The best time frame given your target field, e.g. immediately after college or after years of work experience.


  • Schools by reviewing programs of study, entry requirements, geographic locations, and cost of living.
  • Campuses by visiting and meeting with students, admissions staff, faculty, and financial aid officers.
  • Programs with varying levels of competitiveness, e.g. "reach schools," "match schools," and "safety schools."
  • Ins and outs of standardized tests such as the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT.
  • Application dates, including deadlines for financial aid and fellowships.


  • For standardized tests by registering in advance, studying, and allowing time for a retake.

  • To complete the application by gathering two or three letters of recommendation from professors, supervisors, and other professional references at least 1-2 months prior to application deadlines. For guidance on getting quality letters of recommendation, check out this article by AU Eagle Carmen Iezzi Mezzera, SIS/BA '00, SIS/MA '01 

  • Your personal statement and work with professors, Career Center advisors, or Writing Center consultants to revise and strengthen it.


  • Your knowledge to the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT or other standardized test in the fall.
  • Online, typically in the fall or winter, but print the application and complete a draft before you submit the final version along with your official transcripts from the Registrar's Office. Also verify that your letters of recommendation have been sent before the application deadline.
  • At least one month before the application deadline, and even sooner if you seek financial aid.


  • Which school is right for you by reviewing program details, comparing financial aid packages and cost of living, visiting campus, and talking again with faculty and other key influencers.

PreMed Advising Services

Students enrolled in AU's premedical and other professional health care programs may use the services below and meet one-on-one with Career Advisor Anna Litman.

Virtual Mock Interviews

Prepare for your medical school interviews with Big Interview. Log into Handshake for instructions on creating a free account.

Personal Statement

Work with staff at the Writing Center to organize your thoughts and create a draft AMCAS personal statement. Then schedule an appointment with a career advisor to review and finalize your document.


Build or enhance your resume by reviewing our tips. Then schedule an appointment with Anna Litman to optimize it.

Prelaw Advising

The AU Career Center provides one-on-one pre-law advising to American University students and alumni. Pre-law advising topics include, but are not limited to, law school decision-making, developing strong application materials, and selecting the right law school. To schedule an advising session with a pre-law advisor, please call the Career Center at (202) 885-1804 or schedule an appointment with Tami Katzoff in Handshake.