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Overview: Planning Timeline


The resources in this section will help you prepare your graduate school application(s). This section includes an application-planning timeline, advice on researching and choosing a program, a summary of needed materials and how to develop them, rhetorical principles for building a statement of purpose, and suggestions for how to handle competing offers.

Contributors:Nancee Reeves
Last Edited: 2018-03-28 07:09:46

This section provides information on when you need to start preparing your graduate school application(s). Please note, these resources focus on applying to graduate studies programs in the United States. The information contained in these resources may or may not be appropriate to other contexts. It also provides a list of dates to keep in mind as you are going through the application process.


When applying to a graduate program you will have to assemble, request, and prepare several elements, many of which are time-sensitive. Graduate programs are strict about application deadlines. Most do not allow extensions; and, even if you are granted extra time, the request may make you look unprofessional and disorganized.

In general, most programs start accepting applications in November with a January deadline. However, you shouldn’t count on this. Each individual program may have their own set of admission deadlines, which may be different than the deadlines for the school/college of graduate study. Also, keep in mind that even though graduate programs traditionally start in the fall, some programs have two or three start dates; while others have rolling admission--all of which will affect application deadlines.

The timeline below is based on a traditional fall start date. Adjust dates accordingly if you are applying for admission in the spring or summer.

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