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FAQs on Graduate School, Admissions & Degrees -

  1. What are the General Admission requirements for Graduate Admissions?
  2. Will an advanced degree enhance my career?
  3. Is it worth spending the money to get a graduate degree from an expensive school?
  4. How do schools evaluate multiple admissions test scores?
  5. How can I find jobs that are in a different field than my graduate degree?
  6. Where can I find information on working my way through graduate school?
  7. What can I do to improve my chances if I am wait listed?
  8. What does it mean to be deferred or placed on hold?
  9. What can I expect in a graduate school interview?
  10. Is it a good idea to contact faculty at prospective schools? Will my contact with professors have any impact on the admissions process?
  11. How do I Choose a Graduate School?
  12. What is a good time table to follow for Graduate School Admission Applications?
  13. Students Guide for Recommendation Letters for Scholarships & Fellowships
  14. What are the guide lines to write Recommendations letters for Scholarships & Fellowships
  15. What is a recommendation letter - information, approach, rights & contents
  16. What do professors look for in Recommendation Letters for Law School?
  17. How to start writing recommendation Letters


    1. What are the General Admission requirements for Graduate Admissions?

    (a) TOEFL - Test Of English as a Foreign Language : Official TOEFL Score must be sent to the school or college through ETS.
    (b) GRE - Official GRE Score must be sent to the school or college through ETS.
    (c) Financial Proof of funds availability - Original copy of your bank or financial institution's statement.
    (d) Statement of Purpose & Intent.
    (e) Undergraduate Transcripts.
    (f) High School Transcripts.
    (g) Three (3) Letters of Recommendations from professors/teachers.
    (h) Application Fees - A draft or money order made payable in the institution's name. (for US residents only - Application fees can be made payable through a check or credit card).
    (i) Resume.
    (j) Photo's - These may be required by some schools/colleges/institutions.
    (k) All copies of Certificates and letters of Honor & Achievements in all fields. Its a good idea to send these because some Schools/colleges/Universities/Institutions have a separate Quota and may consider you to be eligible based on your certificates or they may view these as additional qualities possessed by the applicant, thereby increasing your chances of admission.

    All the above documentation must be either in English or should have an English translation attached and notarized.

    Do NOT send original copies of your Marks sheet. These will NOT be returned to you.
    If possible, Have all your documents notarized or certified by the institution to which it belongs.

    2.Will an advanced degree enhance my career?

    It depends on your career. Some employers (and industries) value advanced education more than others. First, research the qualifications you'll need to enter and/or be promoted in your field.

    For example, sales and marketing positions may require only a bachelor's degree, but product or brand managers usually need an MBA (preferably with several years of related full-time experience). New graduates can start out in analyst positions in investment banking and consulting, but they typically need an MBA to advance. 

    3. Is it worth spending the money to get a graduate degree from an expensive school?

    Some public graduate or professional schools are ranked higher than some expensive private schools. Consider the reputation of the specific program you are interested in (such as a law or MBA program) rather than the prestige of the university itself. Compare the average starting salaries of the school's graduates with your cost of attendance (and loan payback, if necessary) and do some calculations.

    4. How do schools evaluate multiple admissions test scores?

    Test services typically will report your scores from the last five years to the school, so don't take the test just for practice! School policies vary. Some may use your highest score in admissions, while others may average all of your scores.

    One study, The Profile of Graduate Management Admission Test Candidates, showed that those who take the test while still in school tend to score higher than those who wait until after graduation. Try to take the test during your senior year. Medical school applicants should take the test their junior year.

    5. How can I find jobs that are in a different field from my graduate degree?

    Locate alumni who are working in the field. Most schools survey recent grads every year about their jobs, employers, and salaries. These surveys, often referred to as career surveys or reports, offer insights into the employment opportunities for someone with your credentials.

    In addition, many graduate programs have an alumni directory, which lists where alumni are employed. Some directories provide E-mail addresses and/or phone numbers of alumni who are willing to talk to students and recent graduates about their careers.

    If you find an alum in the directory who is working in your field of interest, try to set up an informational interview. During the interview, you can ask the alum how he or she got the job and what skills and abilities it requires. You can also ask for advice on how to start a career in the field.

    Consult the career planning office of your university as well. A career counselor will be aware of how jobs are posted in your field and can provide other valuable resources that will aid your job search.

    6. Where can I find information on working my way through graduate school?

    First, find out if the graduate program you are considering awards assistantships or fellowships. These awards often include tuition reimbursement and a stipend (between $8,000 and $16,000 a year) for either teaching an introductory-level course or working with a professor on a research project. Also, many graduate programs offer scholarships that cover full or partial tuition. An assistantship, fellowship, or scholarship can help defray the cost of a graduate education and, perhaps, eliminate your need to work full time.

    If you are not eligible for any of those three options, or if it's simply more economical for you to work while you earn your graduate degree, then contact the graduate school's admissions office for information on where to locate job listings on campus. Often the career planning office has both full- and part-time job listings for students. Depending on the field, there may be part-time opportunities on campus. The campus newspaper and campus bulletin boards are possible sources as well.

    Finally, check with the financial aid office to make sure that you are aware of all the resources available for financial aid.

    7. What can I do to improve my chances if I am wait listed?

    Read the school's instructions on its wait list carefully. Some programs send a form that you must fill out and return to the admissions office to remain on the wait list. If the school does not receive your form on time, the admissions office will take your name off the list.

    Once you are wait listed, it is perfectly acceptable to call the admissions office to find out the number of candidates on the wait list, the school's process for reviewing and evaluating those candidates, and when the office plans to notify them. Ask the office if additional information would enhance your chances of admission. Send materials that will strengthen your credentials, such as an additional letter of recommendation, a copy of your most recent transcript if you are a senior, or a personal letter noting your interest in the school. Highlight any recent accomplishments, such as a new project, publication, or award.

    This is an ideal opportunity to confirm your interest in the school. Some graduate and professional programs actually note that you called to inquire about your status in your application file.

    Don't be afraid to campaign for yourself! Call the admissions office periodically (but not every day) to inquire about your status. Ask to speak to an admissions director or assistant director. Remember to be polite to whomever you speak to in the admissions office, and always remain calm. While most schools are open to your calls, some admissions offices discourage direct contact from candidates. Be patient. The creation of a wait list for graduate and professional schools is a complicated process. In general, the admissions office accepts a certain number of candidates from a large pool of applicants and attempts to estimate how many of these applicants will accept their offer of admission. How close they come to their target will determine how many applicants they can take off the wait list. In fact, if more applicants accept than predicted, the graduate school may not even pull a single candidate off its wait list. Wait-list candidates are often notified between June and August regarding their status.

    8. What does it mean to be deferred or placed on hold?

    The hold or deferral status is most common in law school admissions, but there are other graduate and professional schools that have hold and deferral policies. If you are deferred or placed on hold, then the graduate school is not ready to make a final decision on you until it looks through a more substantial number of applications. The school can tell you whether you have been admitted as early as April or as late as June.

    Students typically get deferred when they have a weak spot in their applications. Strengthen your credentials by sending an additional letter of recommendation, your fall grades (if you are a college senior), or a letter that confirms your interest in the school. Don't forget to highlight any recent accomplishments, such as a new project or an award.

    If you are applying to business school, you may get a different kind of deferral. MBA programs sometimes will grant a two-year deferral to outstanding applicants who apply to business school in their senior year of college. In this case, the deferral means the program has accepted you on the condition that you work for two years before starting school.

    9. What can I expect in a graduate school interview?

    A graduate school interview is similar to a job interview. Be prepared to talk about your goals, your knowledge of the field, and, if you are a Ph.D. candidate, your research interests. Do some homework about the school before the interview so that you can articulate clearly how your goals match its program.

    Here's a list of questions you can use to prepare yourself for a graduate school interview:
    1.How did you become interested in this academic or professional field?
    2.What have you accomplished so far that strengthens your interest in the program?
    Examples might include course work, honor's thesis, research projects, internships, volunteer experience, professional work, awards, and publications.
    3.Why do you want to pursue a graduate or professional degree?
    4.Why are you applying to this school?
    Examples might include faculty, curriculum, resources, field work, internships, and reputation of the institution and/or department.
    5.For Ph.D. candidates: What are your research interests?
    6.What are your future goals? How will this graduate program help you meet your goals?

    During the interview, demonstrate that you have given careful thought to applying for graduate or professional school by asking questions about the academic program, internship opportunities, access to faculty, job placement information, and student life resources. Keep in mind that graduate programs value maturity and direction as well as intellectual ability.

    Since interviewing styles vary, be prepared to handle a structured, spontaneous, or confrontational interview. Doctoral programs often schedule interviews with more than one faculty member. MBA programs, on the other hand, often train alumni to interview applicants. Either way, you'll need to invest time for preparation.

    10. Is it a good idea to contact faculty at prospective schools? Will my contact with professors have any impact on the admissions process?

    Graduate programs, especially at the doctoral level, have become increasingly competitive. You can show your initiative and or E-mail. Check application materials or the school's home page for faculty profiles, which typically summarize the professor's academic interests and publications. At a university library, look up articles by professors whose research interests you. Then, when you contact the professor, you can express your enthusiasm for his or her research and indicate your plans to apply for the Ph.D. program. Include questions about the professor's research to open the possibility for further contact.

    Many professors respond to prospective student's E-mail messages and letters. They want to work with bright and curious graduate students who are equally passionate about their research and academic field. Even if a professor does not respond, he or she may ask the admissions committee to forward your application when it's received and advocate your admission if your credentials look promising. Besides, communicating with professors may help you choose a program.

    For master's programs and professional programs, such as law and business, contacting faculty is not as essential. However, feel free to contact a professor if you have specific questions about the academic program.