Graduate School Timeline

Whether you are interested in going into graduate school right after earning your bachelor’s degree or want to take some time off in between, this timeline will help you get a sense of what you need to be thinking about to be competitive in the application process. 

If you are interested in participating in a graduate program right after your undergraduate experience you should begin the application process about a year before you plan to graduate from UCLA. If you would rather take a break between your bachelor degree and a graduate program you can still reference this timeline, just be sure to adjust the various steps accordingly. 

For most transfers coming into UCLA, it is smart to start thinking about graduate school early --preferably the first quarter or two after you transfer. This is not to say that you cannot successfully prepare and apply to graduate school anytime! Read on to find out more about efficiently mapping out the graduate school application process and figuring out which process is going to work best for you. Remember that the Transfer Timelines on this website often overlap, browsing both the Transfer Research and Career/Internship Timelines may help enrich the graduate school process depending on what your field of interest is.


The Summer Before Your First Quarter/Thinking Ahead About Graduate School

Start researching UCLA resources, departments, and faculty

  • Start researching UCLA resources, departments, and any UCLA faculty you might be interested in working with during your time at UCLA.
  • Reading professor bios on the various UCLA departmental websites will give you a sense of the work and research that each professor is involved in and whether or not it interests you. One of your greatest assets in the graduate school journey is going to be the mentors you meet, the people that inspire you, and those that are familiar with your curiosity, interests, and work ethic.
  • Teaching assistants are also great resources in this way as they are currently in graduate programs and can give you first-hand experience regarding what programs are available, what the application process is like, and other tips and insights.
  • Ask questions, explore, do informational interviews with professional staff, faculty, and TAs --and find departments that are doing work that fit your interests. You may discover incredible opportunities through just a little excavation work of your own.
    • Doing this work early will save you time later when the quarters get busy.

Create and talk to a network of people who have gone through the process

  • Ask other students, colleagues, and professionals about their experiences and insights.
  • Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions with graduate students and professionals to learn more about graduate school options, the application process, and tips on how to best approach the graduate school process.
    • Many of these workshops can be found on the Career Center website, through your own department, or through your MYUCLA homepage (all workshops are listed in the right hand side of the homepage).

1st Year: Winter Quarter

Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions

  • Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions with graduate students and professionals to learn more about graduate school options, the application process, and tips on how to best approach the graduate school process.

Speak with faculty and current students in your fields of interest to learn more about the field

  • Ask other students, colleagues, and professionals about their experiences and insights.

Consider taking a contract course or a SRP 199

Begin forming a professional resume and/or get feedback on your current resume

  • The Career Center is ideal for this! Also, be sure to upload your resume on to BruinView –one of the terrific job search resources available to you as a student!

Look for spring/summer/next school-year research opportunities and internships

  • Look for spring/summer/next school-year research opportunities and internships that will give you experience in your chosen field.
  • Graduate school programs want to see that you have experience outside of the classroom, whether this is in research or on the job really depends on your area of focus. Winter quarter is a good time to get serious about pursuing research and job opportunities, especially if you are thinking of attending graduate school right after graduation.
  • Be sure to visit and utilize the Undergraduate Research Centers, the Career Center, explore the Transfer Research and Career Timelines, and attend Transfer Program Events if you haven’t already.

Begin working on a draft of your statement of purpose

  • Manage your time well by working ahead of time on writing a draft of your statement of purpose for internships or research opportunities (this will only help when you need to write your essay for graduate school!).
    • This document can be the determining factor in obtaining research opportunities or internships; it gives employers a sense of your interests and qualifications, additionally it helps you figure out what it is you are truly interested in pursuing and why.
    • Your writing quality and clarity of your professional goals are key.

See First Year, Fall Quarter (above) for more ideas

1st Year: Spring Quarter

Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions

  • Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions with graduate students and professionals to learn more about graduate school options, the application process, and tips on how to best approach the graduate school process.

Look for summer/fall/winter research opportunities and internships

Start your application process

  • If you are interested in attending graduate school the fall after you graduate you will need to start getting serious about the application process now.
  • Generally graduate school applications are due in the fall and early winter, but there will be plenty to do before this such as: researching programs, studying and signing up for entrance exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT), collecting letters of recommendation, sending in transcripts, etc.

Create a list of graduate schools and research about them

  • Start researching specific graduate schools, review sources about graduate institutions and departments, see if they are places that you want to apply.
  • Create a list of programs and professors at the schools you are interested in now. Ask your mentors what programs they would recommend. Start narrowing down the list.

Begin requesting letters of recommendation

  • Request letters of recommendation from past or current faulty for research, internship, and graduate school applications.

Sign up to take entrance exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT)

1st Fall Quarter

Continue researching UCLA resources and your department

Reach out to and meet faculty/staff

  • Continue to research faculty and staff at UCLA, reach out to and meet faculty/staff, and build relationships with those you may want to work with.
  • Faculty can sponsor individual research projects, provide tips for graduate programs, and write strong letters of recommendation.
    • Most opportunity (and many jobs) come from the relationships you have and your authentic interest in the work going on around you. Networking is a well-used and important term, but even more essential is building quality relationships. This goes a step beyond just collecting business cards and meeting everyone you can at an event. Work on relationships with those whose work authentically interests you, and you will be amazed at where these connections can lead.
  • There are many ways to meet and get to know faculty and staff, whether that is in class, during office hours, at informational interviews/meetings, through internships, research positions, contract courses, or at events and workshops there are many opportunities to build relationships.

Work on discovering a field in which you would like to pursue your graduate education

  • As a transfer you may know exactly what it is you want to pursue as a career or you may have no idea, but there is always opportunity to learn what you are not interested in –which can be just as useful as knowing what you love. Often what you focus on for your undergraduate degree will not ultimately be what you work on long term. As you go through your junior year stay cognizant of this and remain open to the possibilities within your major and the opportunities offered at UCLA that may expose you to many different career paths.

Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions

  • Attend panel discussions, workshops, and information sessions with graduate students and professionals to learn more about graduate school options, the application process, and tips on how to best approach the graduate school process.
    • Many of these workshops can be found on the Career Center website, through your own department, or through your MYUCLA homepage (all workshops are listed in the right hand side of the homepage).

Balance your workload as you transition

  • Only take 12/13 units this first quarter and only work part time if you can swing it, this will really help you with the adjustment to your new college environment and the speed of the quarter system.

See Summer Before Your First Quarter (above) for more ideas

2nd Year: Spring Quarter

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Summer (after your first year as a Transfer)

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Summer (after your second year as a Transfer)

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