Preparing for Grad School


2 Years Prior to Graduate School

Fall - Explore different programs

  • Attend a Grad School Workshop, our in-depth graduate school preparation workshop.
  • Attend Graduate & Professional School Day.
  • Talk with a Career Counselor about the different types of programs you are interested in.

Winter - Document relevant experience

  • Review your experience so far to see what additional experience you may need for graduate school
  • Prepare to apply for relevant experience. Most research lab internship deadlines occur early February. Consider our local, part-time Handshake internship options. These programs are essential for a strong Statement of Purpose and future letters of recommendation.

Spring - Narrow down your options

  • Begin research on specific graduate or professional school programs.
  • Take note of application instructions and financial aid information materials.
  • Create a spreadsheet of application specifics such as deadlines, fees, average graduate school exam scores, number of letters of recommendation needed, etc. 

Summer - Plan for your application

  • Sign up and take the required graduate school admissions exam. Study time needed depends on each individual and their study preference. 
  • Finalize your list of selected schools that best fit your criteria. 
  • Create a first draft of your personal statement/statement of purpose
  • Update your résumé

1 Year Prior to Graduate School

Fall - Begin submitting applications

  • Review the application deadlines and requirements for the schools selected.
  • Make an appointment with Career Services to get your Statement of Purpose and updated résumé critiqued.
  • Request letters of recommendation from faculty and employers. We recommend giving at least one month for an individual to write a letter of recommendation. 

Winter - Finish submitting applications

  • Submit any late deadline applications
  • Fill out your FAFSA application for graduate school financial assistance, due March 2.

Spring - Decide on your program

  • Evaluate offers and respond to everyone with your decision.
  • Apply for any additional financial aid. 

What if I don't get in? It is a good idea to contact the graduate admissions committee to find out how you can strengthen your application for the following year. Your candidacy for admissions will be considered anew, and your application will be reviewed and ranked on the merits of the new applications that are received for that year.


Building Your Qualifications

Gaining admission to graduate school is a competitive process, and it’s important that you possess the qualifications you need to be accepted.  Here are areas to consider building:

Get research experience.  Many graduate programs strongly favor students with strong research backgrounds.  UCSB offers many opportunities; here’s a link to some of them. Here's a link to UC-wide research opportunities.

Industry Experience
Find opportunities in Handshake or review our Job Search website. 

Teaching experience can be acquired by finding available positions through Handshake, Family Service Agency (do a search for services by keyword), and even Campus Learning Assistance Services here at UCSB.

Community Involvement
Get involved with a student club or organization, or jump into the political scene – either on-campus or in the local area.  Do something that will demonstrate your leadership and/or your ability to work in a team.  

Professional Affiliation
Joining a professional organization is a great idea – it connects you with professionals in your future field and shows graduate programs that you are serious about your career commitment. To find a professional association for your field, enter the term “professional association” followed by the name of your field into your favorite search engine.

Graduate Exam Information

Most graduate programs will require some type of admissions exam for applicants. A partial list of examinations is: 

  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)
  • LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)
  • MAT (Miller Analogies Test)
  • MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)
  • PRAXIS (subject competency for teaching outside of California)
  • CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test), and
  • CSET (California Subject Examination for Teachers)  

Plan on taking the exam at least three to four months before you need to submit your applications. Scores are typically good for up to five years.

Test scores play an integral role in admission, so prepare thoroughly for the exams. Preparation can consist of studying on your own and/or taking a test preparation course. If you study on your own, each of the exam sites will provide tips on how to study.  You can purchase test preparation materials from the UCSB Bookstore.

Common for-profit test preparation companies include:

Graduate School Preparation Resources at Career Services

  • FREE test booklets are available in the Career Resource Room (CRR) for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, CBEST and PRAXIS.


Miller Analogies Test

Career Services administers the MAT (Miller Analogies Test), which is required by certain graduate school programs.

Upcoming administration dates are:

  • Friday, April 5, 2019 at 8:00 am
  • Friday, May 10, 2019 at 8:00 am
  • Friday, June 7, 2019 at 8:00 am
  • Friday, July 12, 2019 at 8:00 am
  • Friday, August 9, 2019 at 8:00 am
  • Friday, September 6, 2019 at 8:00 am

Start time for all dates is 8:00 a.m.  To reserve a spot to take the MAT on one of the above dates, call (805) 893-6004 or email