Exploring Graduate Schools

About 30% of seniors graduating from Vanderbilt continue on to graduate school to further their education in a specialized field. Is this something you’re considering? Would gaining more education assist in your future career?

Our Career Coaches can help you brainstorm what it is you are looking for in a program. We can also help in deciding the location, if you’ll want to apply for a graduate assistanceship, and discuss common application requirements.

The U.S. News and World Report has listings every year based on industry rankings. You can search the top graduate programs in education, engineering, psychology, law, medicine, fine arts, and many more.

Common Application Materials for Graduate School:
  • An essay or personal statement

  • Standardized test scores

  • Recommendation letters

  • Undergraduate transcripts

  • Resume or Portfolio

  • In-person meeting or audition

While we don’t offer test prep for the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, or GMAT, we can help you find appropriate testing centers in the Nashville area. Scores from these admissions tests are generally good for five years.

Suggested Timeline for Applying to Graduate School


Junior Year:

Fall and Spring

  • Research multiple programs
  • Ask for alumni and faculty insight
  • Review the application process
  • Become aware of financial aid submission requirements (FASFA)
  • Track deadlines of your top colleges and universities
  • Prep for appropriate tests and know the scores needed to obtain admission at your top colleges and universities


  • Complete the required graduate admissions test 
  • Start online applications. Many portals let you save drafts for up-to a year
  • Start speaking with admissions staff and faculty at your target schools
  • Begin brainstorming what story you want to tell in your personal statement
  • Look into financial aid, scholarships, fellowships and teaching or research assistantships
  • Make a list of those you might ask to write recommendation letters for your application


Senior Year:


  • Obtain your recommendation letters; schools often require 3-5
  • Complete online submission of full application
  • Schedule campus visits if you are having a hard time deciding on locations


  • Follow up to check on the status of your application with each school
  • Choose and share your decision with the college or university
  • Send thank-you notes! Include those who wrote recommendation letters, and inform them of your plans.