Thinking about getting your master’s after graduation? Here are steps and questions to ask yourself when navigating through the process of applying to graduate school.


  • What are your goals? What type of program do you want to apply for?
  • Where do you want to go geographically?
  • Not sure where to start? Review program rankings websites.
  • Skim over school websites; write down names of ones that stand out.

Find Programs

  • Narrow down the institutions you like. Will this institution help you reach your goals? Is this institution accredited?
  • Weigh location vs. institution.
  • Make a list: favorites, neutral, backup.
  • Toss a wide net.

Research Programs

  • Research school/program website. What are the requirements? How long is the program?
  • Make phone calls to the graduate admissions office and/or program office and have questions prepared.
  • Research the institution’s alumni and the types of roles they hold. Consider reaching out for informational interviews.
  • Go on a campus tour/campus visit.
  • Any specific faculty you want to work with?

Gather Application Materials

  • Make a schedule: Plan your time and know your deadlines.
  • Professional document review: Resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation.
  • Prepare for any standardized tests and test dates.
  • Collect any financial aid documents.

Program Logistics

Questions for On-site Programs

  • Is the location where you want to live?
  • What are the housing options on and off campus?
  • What would your commute look like?
  • What is the surrounding area like?
  • Will you enjoy living there?

Questions for Virtual Programs

  • What networking, social, and community-focused events are available for online students?
  • Will courses be at a date and time (synchronous) or will videos be uploaded and homework due at a certain date and time (asynchronous)?
  • Will there be virtual office hours?
  • What resources are available for online students’ success when not on campus?

Questions for Part-Time vs. Full-Time Programs

  • What are the professional demographics of other students? What do they usually do after graduation?
  • Is there flexibility in which classes you take in a part-time vs. full-time program?
  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • What does time management look like for me in a full-time or part-time program?
    • Will I have the energy and physical space to do more work in a shorter time, or be in school for a longer period of time?

Application and Final Steps

  • Have all your required documents and references in order.
  • Complete all required testing.
  • Submit applications by deadline.
  • Research relevant financial aid supports.
  • Confirm enrollment and make your deposit.

Questions to Ask & Tips

  • Are fellowships offered? How do I obtain one? Is there a deadline? How many students have one?
  • What is student life like? What do students do for fun? What on-campus opportunities are there?
  • Be brief, polite, and professional, when asking for letters of recommendation.
  • All program deadlines will be different. Keep a log of deadlines, dates, and important information.

Are you interested in a master’s program at Emerson College? Check out the programs we offer.

For guidance and more personalized questions, contact your career advisor.