UCLA Labor Center

The Graduate School Application Process (and Resources too)

The graduate application process can seem a bit intimidating, but remember—you successfully navigated the college application process and practice makes perfect! #YesYou can get into graduate school and we created this space to breakdown the graduate school application components so that you can complete a strong, successful application in a timely manner. 

Please note that the specific requirements of the application are dependent on the school, discipline, and degree you select.  This information will provide a general overview and timeline that you can apply to your respective applications.

Timeline & Application Resources

It’s important to set aside sufficient time for the graduate school application process, the preparation invested into your application will not only increase your chances of being admitted but will also provide you with sufficient time to research the institution that best fits your needs.   Below is a sample application timeline for students who are hoping to enter graduate school in the fall.  Although some graduate school applications have rolling submissions (no deadline), you can adapt this timeline to fit your application deadlines.

Application resources and pro-tips are organized according to the timeline presented below, be sure to click on the links to explore the open-access (free) resources that we have identified:


Application Components

The PPT presentation provides detailed information about the graduate application, but before you delve into the material we wanted to make sure you were familiar with the vocabulary utilized in the process:

Transcript and GPA– Graduate programs may require unofficial transcripts electronically within the online application, or you may also be required to mail official transcripts to your graduate program.  You need to check your program’s transcript requirements before applying and allow sufficient time to request and have your transcripts processed.

Letters of Recommendation– The number of letter of recommendations that are required and specified content (general guidelines are usually provided) is dependent on the graduate program. Many programs only accept letters of recommendation electronically after you designate the recommender in the online application.  Please ensure that your recommender has agreed to provide you with a letter of recommendation prior to designating them to provide you with a letter of recommendation. 

Personal Statement, Statement of Purpose, Letter of Intent– Graduate and professional schools often require some sort of written statement on your behalf  (often called a “statement of purpose,” “personal statement,” or “letter of intent”) as a part of the application. Some statements require you to answer a prompt while others can be unstructured. The importance of the statement varies from school to school and from field to field.  However, it is important to understand the requirements and number of written statements you need to provide (some can require one or more statements as part of the application).

Writing Sample– Some programs will want a sample of your academic writing. Depending on the program you’re applying for, your writing sample could include: a work of fiction, a poem, a screenplay, a newspaper article, an analytical paper, or a portion of your thesis. It’s essential that you submit your very best work. It’s also important to turn in exactly what is requested. If they want a ten-page writing sample and your best paper is fifteen pages, you’ll need to cut five pages. Don’t turn it in “as-is” and hope for the best.

Curriculum Vitae or CV– A curriculum vita, or CV, is much like a resume that tells the story of your academic life. A CV should include: contact information, education, publications, professional presentations, honors and awards, teaching experience, research skills and experience, pertinent work experience, and references (typically in that order).

Please Walk me through the Process

Now that we’ve covered the graduate school basics and you’re familiar with the graduate school application vocabulary, you can play our graduate school application workshop. The videos narrate the process and provide insider information about navigating the graduate school application guide.  The first video series provides application information for general PhD and MA graduate school application information whereas the second video is specific for Law School applicants.  These graduate school workshop videos are made for undergrads by graduate students who understand the questions and concerns you and especially first-generation graduate students might have.