What is the Optimum Timeline for Grad School Application?

There is a saying that “Don’t miss the payment deadline of your credit card bills; and so as the application deadline of Graduate School”. If you miss, you will be hit hard — your credit card company will put a fine, and the grad school will simply reject your application even if you just miss the deadline by one minute. Once the window is closed, it’s closed forever for that season.

When the application is due?

“The sooner, the better” — cent percent true for your grad school application. If you start earlier — it will increase your odds of being admitted with fund. Though graduate schools have their own deadline for submitting the application, many graduate programs follow rolling admission policy. They evaluate applications once they are arrive, do not wait for the last minute application. Some grad programs have multiple deadlines e.g. priority deadline i.e. applications submitted before this deadline will be considered for fellowship or funding, and regular deadline i.e. funding is not guaranteed.

grad school application timeline gradbunker

Usually, the priority deadline for Fall ends by the end of November or December mid, and for spring it is somewhat earlier August. Please note that many schools only admit students for the Fall semester and the funding is somewhat minimum during the spring semester. So please consider these points while you submit your application for grad school. However, regardless of the deadline, if you have your GRE score in hand and prepared your statement of purpose (SOP) — you should consider to submit your application ASAP once the window is open.

In this article, we are providing a sample schedule for a student intending to apply for grad school in the fall. We are assuming the final deadline for the Fall application is January 15, and the priority deadline is on December 15th. If you are applying for the Spring, then you should adjust the timeline according to your calendar.

9 months before Priority Deadline — March:

If you are planning to go for USA, then you have to start preparing for an additional standardized test either GRE (for STEM, some business schools accept it too), GMAT (for MBA) or LSAT (if you are planning to go for LAW school). There is no definite timeline to prepare for these sort of tests, but usually a standard preparation timeline should be of 3 to 5 months maximum. So if you start preparing for any sort of standardized test from March, by August you will have your score in hand. Please check back our blog section for detailed article regarding test prep.

8 months before Priority Deadline — April:

You should start researching about grad schools. Check the admission requirements, application deadlines and have a general idea about the grad programs.

gradbunker higher study timeline

7 months before Priority Deadline — May:

If your study phase went well, then you you might need this month or one more to wrap up your studies and start planning to sit for the exam. You should register for the test by this month.

6 months before Priority Deadline — June:

Give mock test, as much as you can. Start drafting your academic CV. Drafting an academic CV is not a rocket science, so do not panic. Grad Bunker has published an article on drafting an academic CV, you can read that if you want.

5 months before Priority Deadline — July:

You should start doing research on grad schools and make a tentative lists of those schools you will be exploring once you have your test scores. Selecting the right universities according to your profile is very critical for grad school application.

4 months before Priority Deadline — August:

Finish all your tests. If you are not happy with your score, then register for the test ASAP so that you can finish retaking it by the end of November. Draft a nicely formatted email with all the information that you will be sending to professors. For more information — you can read this article.

3 months before Priority Deadline — September:

Start emailing professors who share your research interest. Look for openings, and tell them how you can contribute to their group. Alongside you should start drafting your statement of purpose (SOP), personal statement or research proposal (if required).

fall application timeline gradbunker

2 months before Priority Deadline — October:

Contact your referee for the recommendations. Give them your academic CV, and detailed information about your career plan so that they can recommend accordingly. Make a sort list of those professors who gave you a positive feedback. If you still did not get any sort of positive reply then do not loose hope; you still have plenty of time. Keep writing to professors.

Last month before Priority Deadline — November:

Critical month of your journey — you might have to retake your exam if it was not good during August. You have to finish writing your SOP, research proposal and also start filling up the online application. Also, have someone in the field and a few honest and smart friends read over your personal statement or any other relevant documents.

By this time, some professor might have taken your “online Interview” before inviting you to submit a formal application, or you are preparing for the upcoming interviews. You should make a sort list of 5–8 universities or more to which you will submit your application.

Last Month — December:

Wrap up everything, send your test scores and submit your application online — if you want to meet the priority deadline. Make sure that your referee have submitted their recommendation online.

What Next?:

Missed the priority deadline for grad school application!!!! — never mind there are plenty of schools where the application is due by January 15 and even some schools have their extended deadline till March 15. However, some schools also extend their deadline by a week or two because of last minute requests from the prospective applicants. Remember one thing — do not wait till the last minute, you need to be ahead of your timeline so that if any unwanted incidents occur, you have the time to recuperate.

Disclaimer: No A.I. was used to generate any portion of this content.

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  1. Md. asnim Rana October 25, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Very well documented. Thank you for you very much

  2. Md. Tasnim Rana October 25, 2023 at 9:24 am

    Very well documented. Thank you very much for the efforts .


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