Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A strong resume will concisely present your most relevant and positive credentials for admission to graduate school. It is advisable to include academic work, such as research papers or capstone projects, to market skills desired by the program you are applying to. Customizing your resume to each program will make your application more intentional, and therefore more competitive.
Much like a resume, a curriculum vitae, or CV, highlights your professional and academic work, but in greater detail. A strong candidate for graduate school will have a CV that exceeds one page and includes the most relevant and impactful pieces of their academic portfolio. Remember, each application must be customized to the school and the same applies to your curriculum vitae (accessible word doc).
Personal statement essay
Each application must include an essay customized for the specific program to which you are applying. It is best to have both an expert in your field (a faculty member) and an editor read the essay to ensure it is well-written and free of errors. Consultants in the Writing and Communication Center (WACC) are available to help you during all stages of composing your personal statement (even after graduation – call or email them directly). Learn more about personal statements and examples of how to write them by reviewing What is a Personal Statement?
At least one official transcript from each institution you have attended will be required for your graduate program application. Most institutions require transcripts to be sent directly to the designated department within the Graduate School office. UW Bothell transcripts can be ordered online through MyUW.
Letters of recommendation
Depending on the program, you will likely need at least three letters of recommendation to support your graduate school application. At least one of your recommenders should be faculty in your academic discipline. Follow all application instructions carefully.
Most programs will give you the option to waive your right to view the letter of recommendation in the application portal. We advise students to waive this right to access the letter for several reasons: it shows your confidence in your choice of recommender, it adds credibility to an honest recommendation (a candid recommendation is what the committee will be wanting versus generic praise), and it indicates to reviewers that you have nothing to conceal.
Many professional schools require an interview as part of the application process, so it is important to determine the appropriate academic emphasis and be prepared to clearly articulate how you match the program goals.
Artistic disciplines may require an audition.
Standardized entrance exam
Some programs require scores from an entrance exam, others do not. Below is a list of the most common exams with the fields that typically require each test. Be sure to check with the programs you’re applying to – determine whether or not an entrance exam is required.
- GRE (Multiple fields)
- GMAT (Business)
- LSAT (Law)
- MCAT (Medicine)
- DAT (Dentistry)
- MAT (Multiple fields)
- OAT (Optometry)
- TOEFL (International students)
Some programs, particularly in the arts or humanities, require submission of various kinds of writing samples or a portfolio of your work.
Some programs may require submission of a diversity statement or include questions about diversity within their description of the personal statement. Often these statements will provide you an opportunity to discuss your diversity-related values, examples of relevant experiences, and your future plans.
The main requirement in hosting your project work is to use a reliable service that will be available whenever the application reviewers get to reviewing your particular application. Be sure to choose a hosting platform or service that will fit with your requirements. There is no one right answer for this. For example, code portfolios could be hosted in an online code repository like GitHub; business-related projects could be hosted on your LinkedIn profile; and artistic portfolios could be hosted on your own creatively-constructed website.
Critical writing sample
Arts, social science, and humanities programs may request a “critical” or “academic” writing sample. This will generally consist of an essay or published paper written in an expository or persuasive style. Note that there will be some variation in requirements depending on the program, so use your best judgment – for example, a graduate program in creative writing may accept more experimental samples! The Writing and Communication Center has some resources to help you write your best paper, including constructing bibliographies and thesis statements. One promoted source, the Purdue Writing Lab has a good focused description of these types of essays and some suggestions on how to make them stronger.
Tips for current undergraduate students
- Begin the application process early by researching programs and preparing for any standardized tests in advance. Applications for programs will often be due as early as one year in advance of the start of the program.
- If possible, ask for letters of recommendation from your professors while you are still enrolled.
- Compile writing samples that demonstrates your research capabilities into a portfolio.
- Become involved with undergraduate research opportunities, conference presentations and professional publications.
- Eight tips for getting into graduate school
- Explore your funding options early. Check your particular program for funding availability, and the funding pages of the program/university to which you are applying. Here is UW Seattle’s information on funding for graduate school.