How to Apply to Grad School: Application Requirements for Professionals

For busy professionals, the thought of applying to grad school can be daunting, especially if you’ve been out of academia for years. Between researching programs, preparing for entrance exams, and meeting application deadlines—all while balancing work, family, and other interests—considering how to apply to grad school can be downright intimidating.

The good news is that it can be easier than you think. By breaking down the process into smaller, more manageable steps, you can ensure you’re on track every step of the way.

Grad School Application Requirements

Your grad school application requirements will vary based on the program you’re applying for. Still, most programs have the following requirements in common:

  • A completed application form
  • Official transcripts from all the colleges/universities you’ve attended
  • Letters of recommendation
  • An up-to-date resume
  • Standardized tests

Depending on your program choice, you may need to meet other criteria. For example, Azua Pacific University’s Master of Arts in English requires applicants to send in a writing sample, while its Master of Music in Conducting requires prospective students to submit a video of conducting performances.

How to Apply to Grad School

To start, confirm the admission requirements for your program of interest and identify any important grad school application deadlines. You might create a spreadsheet to keep these items organized. It can also be helpful to attach a timeframe to each requirement. An application timeline will help ensure you don’t miss anything along the way and prevent tasks from piling up. From there, focus on the requisites one at a time.

Prepare for Entrance Exams

If you’ve been out of school for a few years, entrance exams may be one of the most intimidating parts of the application process. Not all graduate programs require entrance exams. But if yours does, it can help to review sample tests online or consider enrolling in an exam preparation class to help soothe your nerves.

Most programs at APU don’t require entrance exams. Some, such as the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, suggest that you submit your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score to strengthen your overall academic profile and boost your chances of acceptance.

Request Recommendation Letters

Identify people in your life who can speak to your academic ability, work ethic, and character. That may mean professors, employers, or mentors. Once you’ve made your selections, reach out to ask whether they feel comfortable writing you a letter of recommendation. Provide a clear deadline for when you need them to submit your letter, and ask well in advance so they don’t feel rushed.

Update Your Resume

This is the perfect time to refresh your resume. If you’ve been working at the same job for a while, it likely needs some attention. Update your resume with your most recent work history. Even if your work history is up to date, review your job information and add in any professional accomplishments to round it out.

Complete Any Written Portions

If your graduate program requires a purpose statement or essay, give yourself plenty of time. Begin by brainstorming what you want to highlight or communicate, and develop a rough outline to help stay focused. Before you submit your statement, ask friends or family to review it for typos, grammatical and spelling errors, and narrative gaps.

Gather Your Transcripts

If you’ve attended multiple colleges or universities, give yourself enough time to get everything together. This process will be a bit different with each institution. Typically, you’ll connect with the school’s admissions or registrar’s office. You may need to pay a small fee or provide identification, and you’ll often get the choice of either sealed or unsealed transcripts. Check with your program to confirm whether it has a preference.

Submit Your Application and Fee

Most programs offer online application forms. Typically, your application will require a processing fee. Fee amounts range widely between various graduate programs across the US, with some costing more than $100. At APU, graduate program application fees are $45, though they may be waived under certain circumstances (such as if you attend a same-day admissions event).

Crossing the Finish Line with APU

Want to know more about how to apply to grad school and get started on your career goals? Many of APU’s graduate programs offer information meetings throughout the year to give you all the information you need to successfully apply. For more support, contact APU’s admissions representatives. They can answer your questions along the way and clarify important grad school application deadlines.