Here are the grad school guidance materials from our 2017 Graduate School Bootcamp with speaker, Don Asher.

He recommended that you apply to 9-12 graduate programs (⅓ reach, ⅓ match, ⅓ unsure).

Junior Spring

Find faculty (Ph.D.) you might be interested in and write to them


"Dear Dr.___,

In the course of my research, I came across your name often. My advisor said I should look into your works, and I am so glad that she made that recommendation. Your articles or books are influential or instrumental in me thinking about_____)" 

Ask questions

"I have two questions about your research and three questions about your programs:

Research: 1, 2, 3...

Department: 1, 2, 3…"

Avoid asking about funding in your first email

Close your email with enthusiasm!

Junior Summer

Continue searching and start composing professional documents

Compose CV or resume

Build your list of schools

Work on a major research project

Study for GRE

Apply to a major scholarship

Example Sources:

  • Fulbright, National Institute of Health, UCLA GRAPES graduate school funding
  • Search with Cornell's database
  • "The Best Scholarships for the Best Students"

Senior Fall

Preparing for applications

Don't overload your schedule

Courses required:

McNair Senior Career Development 

Request letter of recommendations in September (4-8 weeks ahead of all-in-date)

Ask if your professors can write you a STRONG letter of recommendation. Provide them with your portfolio (transcript, a draft of personal statement, list of schools, application deadlines, CV/resume, and any additional information you think they show know)

STEM applications

Rolling admission: start and submit early

Customize personal statement and any supplemental essays to each school

Choose your all-in date

Aim for 2-3 weeks before deadlines.

Continue communicating with faculty

Send in grade updates and news about any relevant updates or achievements (publications, awards, etc.) in an email

"Dear ___,

My fall grades came in [solid OR strong]. Here they are:
Class:        Grade:

Fall GPA:

I recently had a chance to visit your campus and I talked to ______"

Talk about your publications, article, journal (in press/pending/under review), if relevant

Senior Spring

Write interest letters to the grad programs you applied to

Continue asking about the funding...

In April, most graduate schools distribute their first round of funding. Write to them about funding before you apply, right after you get admitted, during a tour to the department /graduate studies.

“Dear [Professor or Administrator],

I have searched the website thoroughly and still, I have questions about funding and support. Could you help me to understand all forms of support available to students in your program? For example, when and how do you choose TAs (teach), RAs (money from a research fund), and GAs (graduate) (usually a full waiver and a stipend)? If you would be so kind, could we connect briefly by Skype or phone on this? I can be available anytime at your convenience on_______.”


Grad schools might call you. When you see an unknown number, let it go to message.

The meesage may sound something like this:

“I am ___ from ___. We might have some money for you.”
They are testing your enthusiasm! Look the person up and call back and say with excitement: 

Your response could be as follows:

“Dr.____. I am super excited. What kind of money are you talking about?”

When they explain their offer, you may respond with:

“I am required by my program coordinator or ___ to have the amount written down by tomorrow. Would you mind to sending me an email with this information so I can send it.”

After Acceptance and Offers are Made

Attend all activities, such as Meet and Greets.

Attend even if listed as optional

April 15th

The April 15 Resolution! This is the deadline for accepting a graduate school offer.