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Academic Advising Centre

Preparation timeline

Once you've decided that grad school is right for you, you'll want to check the preparation timeline to start your grad-school planning.


When should you start researching your graduate school options?

Start considering graduate school seriously in your third year of studies, or after you have completed 60 credits. This gives you plenty of time for research and preparation before the application is due, around the fall of your graduating year.


Graduate school timeline

Two years before graduation

Research and choose your program

Do as much online research on the programs as possible before reaching out directly to the institution.

Do not begin your research by attempting to contact a program of interest — you don’t want to make a poor first impression because of not having done your homework.


Enhance your eligibility

Nearly all professional and graduate programs select the best applicants with competitive admissions, factoring more into the decision than just grades or test scores. Improve your chances of admission through:

  • Conference presentations
  • Relevant life experience (work, Co-operative Education, volunteer, job shadow)
  • Accompany a professional, observe, and ask strategic questions:
    • What is a typical workday like?
    • What are some of the challenges?
    • What type of work-life balance does this career path have?
    • What’s the pay like?
    • What are the opportunities for advancement in this career?
  • Timely entrance exams
  • Plan to write any required exams in your third year of studies to allow for a rewrite later if needed.
  • Strong academic performance, particularly in your final 60 credits 


Connect with a supervisor

  • Talk to instructors within your intended field to gather information about further studies. These connections will be useful as academic references when you apply.
  • Think beyond the school you want to attend, and consider whom you may want to supervise you. Who are the experts in your field of interest? If you don’t know, ask a faculty member.
  • Email prospective supervisors in third year. Applications are usually due in fall of your final year, and you want to be on the radar of your prospective programs by then.

One year before graduation

Make preliminary preparations

Once you’ve chosen your program, start preparing for the application process about 12-18 months in advance of your planned start date. Use this time to do the following:

  • Take any required admissions tests
  • Arrange recommendation letters
  • Write your personal statement/letter of intent
  • Request transcripts
  • Try a mock interview
  • Prepare other supplemental materials required for admission



Plan to submit your application in the fall of your final year of studies. Applications typically open between August and October and close between December and January for the following fall.

Double-check the admissions dates for your school and program.