Senior Year

Use the Biology Graduate School Checklist to keep track of your progress in preparing for graduate school.

September

  • Do research with Biology faculty members.
  • Meet with Dr. Deschênes, the Biology Graduate Advising Coordinator, to discuss your final plan of action for the application process.
  • Talk to your academic advisor and other biology professors for additional advice.
  • If financial aid will be required, contact the financial aid offices at the schools to which you plan to apply to ask for specific information and applications.
  • Organize applications and related information, with a separate folder for each school.
  • Request letters of recommendation.
    • Select several faculty (and/or professionals) who you believe could write you a strong letter of recommendation.
    • Contact these people in person (making an appointment) and ask them if they could write you a good letter. Talk to them about your professional goals, and provide them with your transcript (unofficial is fine) and ‎resume or curriculum vitaeā€Ž (CV) before they start your letter. 
    • Allow at least 2 weeks, preferably more, to write the letters.
    • Also provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each of the letters you would like them to mail.
  • Make a final list of schools to which you will apply.

    • Generate a tiered list of graduate schools that have faculty whose work interests you and that provide adequate financial assistance.  This tiered list may include 3-5 examples each of top tier, middle tier and lower tier programs.  The more competitive you are, the more you should skew your choices to top and middle tier programs.  Competition for graduate program slots is stronger than ever these days because of reduced funding for graduate training programs and research projects, so plan to apply to at least 6 schools, preferably 10.
    • MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE MINIMUM GPA AND GRE REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR PROGRAMS AND MAKE CHOICES ACCORDINGLY.
  • Register for and take general GRE and subject tests (if necessary).
  • Budget for non-refundable application fees ($25.00-$100.00)
  • Make several photocopies of applications and begin to fill them out.
  • Find out about the research interests of the faculty at the schools you would like to attend. Write to those faculty whose interests are similar to your own. Request copies of their research papers and indicate your interest in their research.

October

  • Write your personal statement and submit for comments to Dr. Deschênes and other biology faculty by the end of the month.  
  • Order official transcripts.
  • Take or retake required GRE(s).
  • Budget for non-refundable application fees ($25.00-$100.00)

November

  • Take or retake required GRE(s).
  • Budget for non-refundable application fees ($25.00-$100.00)
  • Complete applications of first choice schools.
  • By the end of the month, finalize your personal statement.
  • Send official transcripts and GRE scores to the schools to which you are applying.
  • Make sure that writers of your recommendation letters are on schedule.

December

  • Take or retake required GRE(s).
  • Complete all application forms.
  • Complete applications for financial aid, assistantships, and fellowships.
  • Send applications so that they arrive a few weeks BEFORE the deadline. Keep a copy of all materials you submit.
  • BEFORE EACH APPLICATION DEADLINE: follow-up with your recommenders and the schools to which you have applied to make sure that all of your applications are complete. Check that financial aid applications are complete.  THIS STEP IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL; IF YOUR APPLICATION IS INCOMPLETE, NO MATTER THE REASON, YOUR APPLICATION MAY NOT BE EVALUATED!
  • Send thank-you notes to reference writers.

January

  • Follow-up with your recommenders and the schools to which you have applied to make sure that all of your applications are complete. Check that financial aid applications are complete.

January-April:

  • Prepare for on-campus interviews.

    • Be intimately familiar with the programs to which you are applying, as well as the research of faculty members with whom you may want to study.
    • Do PRACTICE INTERVIEWS with Dr. Deschênes and other biology professors. THIS IS A CRITICAL STEP FOR YOUR SUCCESS!       
  • After interviews with graduate programs, send thank-you notes to interviewers.
  • When you receive an acceptance letter, make sure that all financial aid options and your obligations (e.g., time commitments, payback, etc.) are clearly explained and are acceptable to you before you formally agree to join the program.
  • Let your reference writers, professors, and everyone who has assisted you know where you got in and where you're going!

May-Summer

  • Continue to apply for financial aid, fellowships, or assistantships if you haven’t already received them.
  • Make housing arrangements.

 

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