Graduate School Timeline

Timeline to Prepare for Graduate School

Graduate School Admissions Requirements

Of course, entrance into any graduate school is competitive. Since a graduate school's decision is influenced by the following application components, you should keep them in mind throughout your undergraduate studies:

Transcript (Grades and Coursework)
Your cumulative GPA and MQPA are very important because an applicant's undergraduate academic performance can indicate his/her potential success in graduate-level studies. Generally speaking, a GPA below 3.0 will hurt your chance for admission while one above 3.5 will increase your chances for acceptance into the better schools. 
Also be sure to round out your major(s) studies. If you're thinking about continuing your studies at the graduate level, you should take as many language courses as possible while you're still at GCC! Take additional literature courses and electives in your language. Increase your study of literature, history, religion, philosophy, psychology and other fields that relate to your particular graduate interests. Consider taking a second foreign language, since many grad schools require reading competency in one or two foreign languages (not including the language of your major).
Remember that graduate schools want to see evidence that their candidates have made a genuine commitment to learning!
Scores on Standardized Tests
While not every school requires standardized test scores for admission, the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) remains the most common measuring stick for comparing applicants. Information about the test and registration can be found at the GRE website. A GRE preparation manual can help you prepare for this test.

Letters of Recommendation
Most graduate schools require three letters of recommendation from people who can speak to the quality of your work. Of these three references, at least two should be from professors in your major field of study.  Ask professors who know you and your academic work well and who would be able to write a positive letter on your behalf.

Always provide the recommendation writers with the necessary forms and contact information, a copy of your unofficial transcript [mark the courses that you took with each writer] and your résumé, a copy of your application essay and/or statement of purpose, addressed and stamped envelope(s) unless the recommendation will be submitted online, a list of paper/presentation/project titles that you completed for each of the professor's courses and the grades earned, and adequate time to write and send off the recommendation letters. Don't be fooled by forms that suggest that a single paragraph will suffice. In most cases, a genuine letter is an essential component of a grad school recommendation.

     • Let your recommendation writers know whether to send your letter separately or give it to you in a signed envelope. Give them a target date and let them know when you have sent in your part of the application. 
     • Remind your recommendation writers as the target date approaches. It is your responsibility to follow up to ensure that the letters have been sent out on time. Check with us at least a week before the deadline. Don’t be shy about this! In all of our paper grading, it is possible that we will forget or mislay your letter. We will appreciate your follow-up!
Application Form
Every graduate school determines the process, requirements and forms necessary for admission into their individual program. As soon as you decide you'd like to pursue graduate studies, begin to research available programs and prepare your materials. Most applications will require some sort of formal essay and some will request an audio recording of your reading a text in the foreign language. Naturally, applicants must give the entire application process the proper care, time, patience and reflection. All communication between the student and the graduate program should demonstrate the professionalism and respect expected of the outstanding applicant.

     Note: Graduate schools adhere to deadlines rigorously. Most applications, especially those for which financial aid is a factor, are due quite early. For September enrollment, expect deadlines in mid-January, the beginning of February, or earlier.

Timeline to Prepare for Graduate School
Sophomore Year:
     • Choose the right courses and round out your program: fill gaps in your language and related studies.
     • Research areas of interest, grad schools and programs.
     • Discuss interests with faculty advisors (do this throughout the process).
Junior Year:
     • Choose the right courses and round out your program: fill gaps in your language and related studies.
     • Research areas of interest, grad schools and programs. 
     • Investigate national scholarship opportunities.
     • Register and prepare for the appropriate graduate admissions tests (Spring).
Summer before Senior Year
     • Check on application deadlines and other required materials (online and catalogs).
     • Write to several (5-10) grad schools for catalogs and applications.
     • Prepare for and take required graduate admissions tests (summer and/or fall).
     • Prepare your application essay.
     • Revise to perfection your best academic paper to use as a writing sample. (Some schools require one.)
     • Prepare a statement of purpose/philosophy, including:
          • Statement of why you want to study the language at the graduate level.
          • Area(s) of special interest, with clear statements of how and why these have become special to you.
          • Show evidence of being knowledgeable about your subject.
          • Type a compelling, perfectly-edited, clearly-developed statement of 2-2½ pages.
Fall of Senior Year
     • Meet with faculty to request recommendations and review application letter and writing sample.
     • Take the GRE by November at the latest. You will need this amount of lead time to ensure that your scores are available for the typical January 15 deadline for applications (note: some may be earlier!).
     • Submit completed applications to at least six graduate schools to maximize opportunities for admission, financial aid, and other financial support:
          • Two programs of excellent reputation but to which admission seems unlikely.
          • Two or more programs to which you feel some confidence in being admitted.
          • Two (or more) programs to which you consider your admission to be certain.
     Additional Admissions Strategies:
          • Have realistic expectations. You must have top grades and GRE scores and a striking application to get into a top Ph.D. program. (Keep in mind that it may be possible to advance from a good Master’s program to a prestigious Ph.D. program).
          • Remember that you may be able to get a teaching assistantship (full tuition scholarship for teaching, plus a modest cost-of-living stipend) from a 2nd- or 3rd-tier school, especially for your M.A. program, and that you can often move up a tier between the MA and Ph.D. programs.
          • Remember our "Letters of Recommendation" advice.  
Fall/Spring of Senior Year
     • Register for Financial Aid services, if necessary.
     • Check with all institutions before the deadline to make sure your file is complete.
     • Please inform us of acceptances and rejections as you receive them.
     • Consult with us in making your final choice.  Send a deposit to hold your institution of choice (if necessary).
     • Once you're certain about your final chioce, notify the other institutions that accepted you of your decision so that they may admit students on their waiting list.

Financing Graduate School Education
Full-time graduate students may find several opportunities for funding their graduate studies including loans, scholarships, work-study, institutional financial aid, fellowships and teaching assistantships.  Fellowships and teaching assistantships tend to be the most prestigious and lucrative, and you should look into their availability, expectations and advantages. Most fellowship recipients and teaching assistants receive a tuition remission as well as a modest living stipend. Unlike most fellows, Teaching Assistants (TAs) earn these benefits through teaching, although they generally are not expected to have had any prior teaching experience or certification. Most graduate programs with TAs provide seminars and/or courses in instructional methods, and the grad program's TA supervisors offer further guidance.

Click HERE for helpful links and some of the top language and literature graduate schools.

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