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Preparing for Graduate School

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Where do I start?

If you’re unsure about how to apply and pay for graduate school, talk to current students, your professors, or contact administrators at your university responsible for helping students prepare for graduate studies.

Visit Stanford's Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) and its Graduate School Applications website.

Key Components of a Graduate Application

Participate in Research As an undergraduate, pursue research at your university and other institutions. These opportunities can introduce you to faculty and graduate students who can guide you through the application process. These experiences will be an important part of your application:

  • Summer research programs
  • Research assistantships
  • Class projects
  • Independent projects


Take the GRE as early as possible during your sophomore or junior years (scores are valid for five years). Prepare for the test.( This should link to the new subpage with info on GRE Preparation.) If you qualify for undergraduate financial aid, apply for the GRE fee reduction voucher before taking the test. It can also be used to waive graduate school application fees at many universities. Some departments require GRE Subject tests, which are only offered three times a year, so plan accordingly.

Faculty Recommendations

Get to know up to four faculty members early on who can later be asked to write recommendation letters and offer feedback on your personal statement.

Application Fee Waivers

Research application fee waivers that are offered by each university. Apply for one of Stanford’s fee waivers.

Selecting Graduate Programs

The best way to find out if there is a match with your interests is to explore faculty research topics rather than focus on department names since similar research may be pursued in several parts of a university. After you find a close match, apply to that faculty member’s department.

Explore the graduate programs in Stanford’s seven schools.

Join interdisciplinary research centers on campus, which bring together faculty and students working on similar topics from across campus.