Prospective graduate students frequently ask themselves such questions as, “How many grad schools should I apply to?” and “When should I begin?” These issues tend to plague prospective graduates. Don’t worry; we’ll give you our opinion on the subject!
Just keep in mind…your plan to apply to grad school is personal. It depends on your goals, timeline, resources, and any advice you may have received from trusted advisors.
How Many PHD Programs Should I Apply To?
Applying to somewhere between 3 and 8, and making sure you are sending applications to a nice mix of “reach,” “competitive,” and “safe” schools, is fairly typical advice.
However, many students wonder if this number changes depending on what field you plan to study. Of course, your application process will vary depending on what type of degree you want to pursue. Students seeking a terminal master’s degree might only apply to one or two schools, whereas those looking to earn a PhD might apply to upwards of 15 programs.
When Do You Apply for Grad School
You should start the graduate school application process as early as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to perfect your application materials.
Some schools have rolling admissions, which means they will review and accept applications as they are received. These schools typically have deadlines that are several months before the start of the semester in which you plan to enroll. Other schools have one main deadline for all applicants. These deadlines are usually in the fall, for programs that start the following summer or fall.
It is important to check individual school websites for specific deadlines and requirements.
What Are My Goals?
Your goals should be one of the main deciding factors in how many schools you apply to and when you begin your applications.
Some prospective students know exactly what they want to study and where they want to attend school. These students might only apply to one or two programs. Others might have a general idea of what they want to study, but are unsure of which school would be the best fit. These students might apply to several schools in order to compare their options.
Some students also apply to multiple schools in order to increase their chances of being accepted. This is generally not recommended, as it can be quite costly and time-consuming. It is usually better to focus your energy on a few select programs.
Make a list of schools you’d like to learn more about. Some experts suggest starting with at least 15 to 20 schools, and narrowing that list down to the graduate programs you’ll ultimately apply to.
Compare and contrast these schools by whatever factors are most important to you – for example:
- Online or traditional campus based format
- Is a GMAT, GRE or other standard test required
You’ll likely be able to cross at least a few schools off your list right away. You may also want to consider factors like how many applications each prospective school receives on average, and what percentage of those applicants are accepted. It is often a good idea to apply to different types of schools, instead of only applying to the most competitive ones.
What Are My Resources?
Your resources should also be taken into consideration when making your decision.
The cost of applying to multiple schools can add up quickly, especially if you need to take standardized tests like the GRE or GMAT. You might want to consider whether or not you will be able to afford the application fees for all of the schools on your list.
You should also think about how much time and effort you are willing to put into your applications. Applying to multiple schools can be quite time-consuming, and you might not be able to devote the necessary time and energy to each application if you are applying to too many programs.
The best way to decide how many graduate schools you should apply to is to speak with your family, friends, mentors, and advisers. They will be able to offer you advice and help you make the best decision for your individual situation.
You can also consult with an admissions expert. Admissions experts can help you navigate the application process and increase your chances of being accepted to your dream school.
Applying to graduate school is a big decision, but you don’t have to go through the process alone. There are many people who can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.