Education and Human Development

Graduate and professional school preparation


Awesome! We are here to help you. Graduate school is a big decision. A good place to start is to reflect on your career goals and why you want to attend.

  • Do you need the degree to work in a certain field?
  • Will it increase your value in the job market?
  • You can also reach out to someone working in your field of interest to do an informational interview to learn more.
  • Visit CAREERWise or CareerOneStop to research how additional education will impact your future career.

Experience in the job market is valuable and some companies will pay for your advanced degree after you have been employed for a certain amount of time.

Quote from Ozge Ersan Cinar, Ph.D. student

I believe that graduate school is the best place of having challenges and making mistakes academically and learning from them.

Ozge Ersan Cinar, Ph.D. student Quantitative Methods in Education Department of Educational Psychology

Steps for applying to graduate school

    Step 1 - Research programs

    Research schools and programs you are interested in by visiting and/or
    Discuss your options with professors, friends, family, and coworkers.
    Ask yourself about what you're looking for and consider asking these questions of the graduate school to learn if the program aligns with you.
    Schedule an appointment to discuss your ideas with a career coach.

    Step 2 - Take time to study

    Most graduate schools require an admissions exam. The GRE is the most popular exam, but look at your application materials. Visit GRE – Graduate Record Exam for more information.

    • Give yourself enough time to study and take practice exams.
    • The U of M Libraries has a variety of test preparation materials.

    Pre-health student resource center online workshops

    Step 3 - Write your personal statement and resume

    A personal statement and resume are a common part of the graduate school application. Don’t wait to start writing your personal statement and resume.

    Personal statements

    A personal statement highlights your strengths and experiences.


    Resumes include information about your education and experiences in ways that target your intended audience.

    Step 4 - Letters of recommendation

    Graduate schools generally require three letters of recommendation.

    • Think carefully about who you would ask to write letters of recommendation. Consider professors, employers, and other professionals you have had positive experiences with in the past.
    • Contact potential references early to determine if they are willing to do this. Allow recommenders 4-6 weeks to complete a letter.
    • Send recommenders your résumé and personal statement so they are knowledgeable about your experiences and why you are attending graduate school.
    • Give your references all the necessary information to complete and submit your letter of reference, including a stamped, pre-addressed envelope.
    • Follow-up with graduate schools to confirm your letters were received.
    • Send thank you notes to your references.

    Step 5 - Everything's together

    Review your application to confirm you have included all of the required materials.

    Have one or more people review your personal statement, application and resume.

    Good luck!