Application Timelines for Graduate School

The date-free timeline below is to give you an idea of the order of events in an application process. Specific dates and timeframes/timelines can vary greatly by academic program and area of interest.  For example:

  • Medical School: If someone wants to begin medical school in fall 2018, they would submit her application early summer 2017. Check the Health, Public Health & Life Sciences resources for an in depth med school timeline.
  • Master of Public Health: If someone wants to begin an MPH program in fall 2018, they might apply in fall 2017 or as late as spring 2018. Here is an in depth suggested timeline from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
  • Law School: If someone wants to begin law school in fall 2018, they would submit her application in the winter of 2017. Applying to law school requires significant pre-planning as the LSAT is only offered four times of year and the application is rolling (aside from early decision and early action). Please make an appointment with the industry-specific Advisor to discuss in more detail.
  • Work closely with your industry-specific Advisor and Advisor for Career Exploration to be sure you are on track.


Pre Submission Timeline

Work with your Career Community Advisor, College Career Mentor to create a plan with more distinct dates for your programs of interest. Meet with faculty and research mentors early and often, throughout the process.

  • Identify programs that meet your academic interests and research the program fit, cost, location, etc.
  • Come up with shortlist of programs to which you’re applying and check application deadlines.
  • Once you know the deadlines begin asking for letters of recommendation early.
  • Take any required standardized tests early enough for scores to be received by the appropriate application deadlines.
  • Collect required application materials (transcripts, etc.), and begin drafting cv, statements, research proposal, etc., as required. Edit, edit, edit--and proofread!
  • Make contact with shortlisted programs to assess fit (particularly important, if applying for a research degree, will be to reach out to potential research supervisors; you may also want to see if you can talk with current students in the programs in which you’re particularly interested)
  • Although it is tempting to wait until the last minute, be ready to hit “submit” at least one week before the stated deadline. This will give you enough time to correct any issues with your materials or even the application portal.


Post Submission Timeline

Your application has been submitted but you aren’t quite done yet. See below for a number of steps that may take place after submitting your application. Please note: all steps will not apply to all programs.

  1. You press submit and pay any applicable fees, congratulations!
  2. Processing time: depending on program and application system this can be a few weeks to a month for programs to make sure all of your transcripts, letters, and test scores have been received and associated with your application.
  3. Initial Review: Generally, results of the initial review indicate whether or not an applicant is still being considered for admission and whether or not they will move forward for an interview.
  4. Interview (if applicable): If programs conduct interviews they can take place on the phone, in person, or video chat. If there are more than one round of interviews for each applicant the first may be shorter of the two.
  5. 2nd interview (if applicable): Some programs may have a second round of interviews, reasoning can vary greatly by program. If a program is highly competitive a second round of interviews may be on campus, the first may have been remote. Additionally, second interviews may be tied to considerations for funding opportunities.
  6. Initial Offers: Programs will make a first round of offers and five up to a few months for applicants to accept or decline their offer of admission. Applicants will generally be placed in one of three categories: admit, waitlist, deny.
  7. Waitlist Offers: After the initial offer deadline has past programs will begin to admit applicants from the waitlist. This may be a one time event or an ongoing process, which can take up to a few months.  
  8. Closing the cycle: Eventually programs will eventually finalize their incoming class and decline any remaining waitlist applicants.