Graduate School

Deciding whether to attend graduate school is a big decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering graduate school:

  • Is graduate school required to enter your preferred profession?
  • Will attending graduate school increase your job prospects and entry salary?
  • Do you love the field enough to put the effort into obtaining an advanced degree? Do you like research?
  • Do you meet the GPA requirements for the programs that interest you?
  • Do you have the financial resources to afford graduate school tuition?

It is important to start this process early so there is time to consider all options. Consider these factors when researching graduate schools to attend:

  • Admissions requirements compared to your undergraduate academic record
  • Program goals versus your career interests
  • Reputation of school/program and the faculty
  • Quality of research facilities, labs and library
  • Graduate placement success rate
  • Program costs and financial aid resources

Graduate School Search Engines

Graduate School Financial Resources

Law School

  • Apply the fall before you wish to start
  • LSAT required
  • Two to three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts and personal statement
  • GPA high importance
  • No specific major requirements, but a STEM background is looked upon very favorably due to increasing use of technology and data analytics in law

Medical School

  • Apply the summer between junior and senior year for a fall start the following year
  • MCAT is required (score of 505 and above)
  • Four letters of recommendation; one should be from a physician
  • Transcripts and Personal Statement
  • GPA of 3.6 and higher
  • Extensive undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry, physics and labs
  • Volunteer work at a hospital and/or medical experience (EMT training) is highly favored

Business School (MBA)

  • Apply in spring for a fall start to program; typically no spring start
  • GMAT is required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume and transcripts
  • Statement of Goals; two pages and similar to a personal statement
  • Bachelor degree in any subject area acceptable with a solid GPA; GPA requirements will vary by school

Co-Terminal at RPI

The Co-Terminal program at RPI allows students to pursue a graduate degree while maintaining undergraduate funding. Students can pursue a graduate degree within the same major as their Bachelor degree or within a different major or program. The application is due at the end of the first semester of the senior year. Each program has their own set of application requirements and students must complete their Master degree within two semesters.

Rensselaer at Work (Hartford Campus)

RPI offers graduate degrees and certificates completely in a digital classroom format, The RensselaerStudio. This program is appropriate for working professionals who need an alternate type of programming. Apply the semester before the desired start date.

Freshmen & Sophomores

  • Begin building relationships with faculty; stop by their office hours, keep in touch through email and read about their research
  • Get involved with research; research is a must-have for many graduate programs. Talk to faculty and send professional emails to them regarding opportunities to join their research
  • Begin looking up graduate schools; talk with faculty, alumni and current graduate students


  • Start building a graduate school list of 15 schools; create a spreadsheet keeping track of admissions requirements and deadlines
  • Consider taking a practice entrance exam (GRE, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT)
  • Sign-up to take the actual required entrance exam and plan how to prepare
  • Email faculty at the graduate schools you are interested in doing research
  • Create a list of 3-4 individuals to write letters of recommendation; reach out to them
  • Start exploring financial aid resources


  • Finalize the list of schools/programs and make sure to keep track of deadlines
  • Re-take standardized tests if necessary
  • Touch base with your recommenders; make sure to give them a “due” date
  • Apply to FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) starting October 1st for financial aid
  • Write your Personal Statement and have it reviewed
  • Schedule an interview at the schools you are applying
  • Visit the campuses or attend virtual tours
  • After submitting applications, check to make sure the admissions office has received all required materials

A Personal Statement is also referred to as a statement of purpose, a letter of intent, or simply a graduate school essay. Regardless of the title, it is usually required for any type of graduate program application. The topic and length requirement will vary by school, but within your essay, you should answer the following questions:

  • What program do you want to study and why do you want to study it? How did you become interested in this topic/subject area?
  • Why do you want to study at a specific school within a specific program? Tailor your essay to each school/program
  • What are your plans and career goals with obtaining this degree?

Make it interesting to the reader and plan to revise it multiple times! Have your Personal Statement looked over by a member of the CCPD, a faculty member and/or the Writing Center at RPI.

Structure of Personal Statement

  • Intro or Lead Paragraph: This is a very important part of your Personal Statement because if it is powerful and/or interesting, it will “grab” the reader’s attention immediately. This paragraph sets the tone and provides the framework for the rest of the essay.
  • Body Paragraphs: Try to tell a story about your life experiences while answering all the essay prompt questions. Be specific about your skills, experiences and interests. As mentioned previously, tailor the essay and make sure to provide a body paragraph on specific reasons you want to study and do research at each particular program. If you are applying to a research based graduate program, summarize research you have done and your specific research interests.
  • Closing Paragraph: This paragraph should pull your essay “together” and tie up any loose ends. At the conclusion of your essay, the reader should have a much better understanding of who you are, your interests/skills and your future plans for your career.

Whom do you ask for letters?

  • Ask 3 individuals who know you well (career/academic related)
  • Professors, Research supervisors, Internship/co-op supervisors, other employment supervisors, Academic Advisor, coaches, Club/organization moderators
  • DO NOT ask: Friends, Family/relatives, anyone who does not know you well!

How do you ask?

  • Call, send an email, message on LinkedIn, visit in person
  • Provide a copy of your resume and a typed paragraph on your interests and goals for each person you ask
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