Graduate School Timeline

Note that this is a general timeline that may not fit your individual needs/timelines. While this timeline starts towards the end of your junior year, it’s never too early or too late to start considering graduate school. Many people wait one or several years after getting an undergraduate degree to pursue graduate school. If you need help or just want to talk through wherever you are in the process of considering and applying to graduate school, meet with a pre-graduate advisor for an individualized plan! Set up an appointment through Starfish on MyMercer.

Junior Year:

  • What are your goals (career & personal)? Does graduate school fit? Will an advanced degree help meet your goals?
    • Do some research!
    • Consider meeting with faculty and/or a pre-graduate advisor to talk through some of these questions and explore your options


  • Start researching schools, programs & faculty, costs, and funding opportunities
  • Plan to take the GRE/other required standardized test, and start studying


  • Take the GRE/other standardized test
  • Plan out your timeline for application materials, narrow down the schools on your list; use the trackng sheet to stay organized
  • Reach out to the schools that interest you for more information; consider visiting your top choices
  • Research funding options
  • Begin working on your personal statement
    • Plan for at least 3 drafts
    • Have multiple people review it
    • Meet with the pre-graduate advisor for personal statement assistance and review


  • Register to retake GRE/standardized test if you want to improve your scores
  • Ask for letters of recommendation (share with them your resume and your personal statement draft)
  • Finalize your list of schools to apply to
    • Aim for at least 4, but don’t apply to too many or to schools you are not interested in attending
    • Don’t sell yourself short – include at least one dream/reach school


  • Prepare and finalize application materials:
    • Request official transcripts
    • Confirm letters of recommendation
    • Keep working on your personal statement – have multiple people review it, including your pre-graduate advisor


  • Finalize your applications, and submit!


  • While waiting for graduate school decisions, don’t forget to complete the FAFSA to be considered for aid at your graduate program and for any available federal need-based aid
  • Continue your fellowship & scholarship research & applications


  • You should start hearing about admissions decisions and financial aid offers from your schools during this time. With a fuller picture, you’ll be more equipped to make your decision.
  • Let us know where you're headed next!