Graduate & Professional School
The Application Year
- Research graduate programs based your criteria (area of interest, faculty and mentors, facilities and resources, research or experiential opportunities, financial aid and funding, geographic location, size of program, etc.)
- Review graduate schools’ brochures and application materials (from the previous year)
- Speak with professors, alumni, mentors and other professionals about your interests
- Study and plan when you will take the appropriate admission test
- Review the recommendation process and carefully select your recommendation writers
- Study and take the appropriate admission test
- Research, contact and visit graduate schools
- Contact letter writers for updates
- Draft personal statements/statements of purpose and have them reviewed and critiqued by a Lazarus Center adviser
- Request current brochures, application and financial aid materials
- Study and take the appropriate admission test
- Contact letter writers to insure completion and submission
- Create list of schools to which you will apply
- Complete and submit application and financial aid materials at least 1-month before deadline
- Confirm completed application files
- If waitlisted, send additional supporting materials
- Evaluate acceptances and pay deposit
Deciding to Attend
Graduate school is a mental, physical, financial and emotional commitment. Consider carefully your reasons for wanting to continue your education (academic or employment). Consult with faculty and evaluate your abilities, the strength of your candidacy and the outcomes of an advanced degree.
- Go to graduate school with an intended purpose, not because you don’t know what else to do.
- Go to graduate school for your desire to learn more, not to please someone else.
Deciding to attend graduate school may mean you will attend the fall after graduation or at some point in your future:
- Will your application profit from a year or two of experience?
- Is your momentum strong to keep you focused on your graduate school academics?
- Will a part-time graduate program allow you to both work and attend graduate school?
Selecting a Graduate School
Gather information about graduate programs through a variety of resources:
- Faculty: Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of programs and where former Smithies have attended.
- Alumni: What advice can they offer you about their graduate school experience? Contact graduate school admission offices for lists of current students or recent graduates who previously attended Smith.
- Scholars and professionals: Who has authored papers and books of interest? Which programs did they pursue?
- Websites: Peterson’s guide to graduate schools, GraduateGuide.com, GradSchools.com
Narrow the field of graduate schools to a reasonable number, taking into account the following considerations:
- your personal criteria
- the time involved to complete well-thought out, competitive applications
- your ability to pay admission fees (or seek fee waivers, if available)
Applying to Graduate School
Craft your application specifically for each program to which you apply. Admissions officers want to understand who you are, what you bring to the program, what is your academic preparation and interest, and how their graduate program meets your needs.
- Graduate programs may require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)—General and perhaps the Subject tests. Some programs may require the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
- Discounts on graduate & professional school test preparation courses offered by The Princeton Review are available to Smith students and alums. Go to Handshake for more details.
- Prepare thoroughly for these tests. Plan to take the test once. Multiple test scores may not be an advantage.
- Applicants may benefit from a test prep, such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, Testwell, TestMasters or others.
- Consider carefully the cost, time commitment and your need for a test prep organization.
Select professors who will best support your application to a graduate program. Read the graduate program’s application guidelines as to how many letters are required and how they are to be submitted. Read the Lazarus Center Guide to recommendations and if appropriate, use Interfolio.
Most graduate programs require transcripts from any college where you had taken a class. Requesting your Smith transcript.
Read the Personal Statement prompt and take the time to write your statement accordingly. Attend the Writing a Personal Statement Workshop, or schedule an appointment with an adviser. Learn more about writing your personal statement.
Some programs (PhD level), will ask you to come for an interview (which may include several sessions) with faculty members in your field and with current students. This is an opportunity for the department to get to know you and to ask questions and determine whether the department is a good fit for you. Prepare for the interviews with a mock interview with the Lazarus Center staff.
Smith College Guide to Law School
Legal Career Information
- American Bar Association
- Equal Justice Works—Information on law careers in public service
- FindLaw—Directory of lawyers and legal professionals
- Hieros Gamos—A comprehensive law and government portal
- Internet Legal Research Group—Information concerning law and the legal profession
- Law.com—News, legal information and e-law services
- Martindale.com—Database of law firms and lawyers
- National Association for Law Placement—Legal career planning and recruitment
- National Association of Women Lawyers
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
Selecting Law Schools
- Boston College's Law School Locator
- U.S. News Law School Rankings
- Book of Lists—List of law schools with dual-degree programs, law concentrations, scholarships, clinical programs, international study programs, law reviews/journals, etc.
- Law School Admission Council
- ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession
- LSAC's Information for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Applicants
- LSAC's Racial/Ethnic Minority Applicants
- National Women Law Students’ Association
Financial Aid and Scholarship Sources
Books and References in the Lazarus Center
- The Best Law Schools, Princeton Review
- The Ultimate Guide to Law School Admission by Carol L. Wright
- Get into Law School, Kaplan
- Law School Essays, Princeton Review
Applying to Health Professions Programs
We can help you explore health professions through advising, internships, career opportunities, personal statement review and mock interviews.
You may also research Smith alumnae who work in various professions and conduct informational interviews to learn more about their experiences.
For information regarding curricular programming and health professions graduate application advising, contact Elly Mons, director of the Health Professions Advising Program, firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-585-2582.
GMAT.org—Tools to help you prepare for the GMAT, including free test prep software, information about scores, test scheduling and more.
MBA.com—Information on everything from deciding if an MBA is for you to paying off business school loans.
The Princeton Review MBA Programs by Specialization—This site offers a guide to business schools as well as advice on graduate and business school preparation.
Explore Graduate & Professional School
Deciding To Apply
The decision to attend a graduate or professional school and when to attend are questions with answers that are unique for each individual. There is no timeline of when or if one is supposed to attend a post-Smith education. For many, the reason to attend a graduate program is to satisfy a personal journey:
- it is a subject that one purely wants to study in depth as a scholar, or
- it is needed for employment or advancement in a particular career field
When your reason to attend a graduate program has motivated you, begin to evaluate your credentials and explore the various graduate programs. Consult with others who can assist you in your endeavor:
- Speak with faculty who can advise you on programs in your field of interest.
- Meet with a Lazarus Center adviser to help coordinate the logistics of your application.
- Network with Smith alumnae and other professionals in the field who can share their personal experiences.
- Contact admission representatives of your selected graduate programs about their programs.
Your decision to attend graduate school should be carefully planned and strategically crafted. Schedule an appointment with a Lazarus Center Adviser at 413-585-2582 or schedule via Handshake.
Funding Graduate & Professional School
- Smith College Fellowships Information—Fellowships provide funds for study, research, interning, self-designed projects or participation in programs.
- American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Funding & Awards - One of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women, AAUW provides funding for fellowships and grants to outstanding women and nonprofit organizations.
- Fellowship Finder Database—Features over 1,100 curated listings of grants and fellowships for graduate students.
- FastWeb.com—Internet's leading scholarship search service
- FinAid.org—Under certain circumstances, the federal government will cancel all or part of an educational loan. Visit this link to find out if you qualify for loan forgiveness.
- Grant Forward is a searchable grant and funding database for undergraduates and graduate students. Access via the Smith College Libraries Databases.
- Bridging the Dream Scholarship—This scholarship was established for students who will be enrolled at least half-time in postsecondary graduate study at an accredited graduate college or university in the United States for the entire academic year. Four awards of $20,000 will be granted. One award will be granted to students in each of the following fields of major: Business, Law, Medical/Dental, Other graduate field of study. See the Bridging the Dream website for eligibility requirements and application instructions.
- Funding Sources for International Students - Resources compiled by Harvard University, arranged by home region.
Most graduate programs will ask you for a personal statement, which is an informal letter to the admissions committee. Your personal statement is also a sample of your writing, attention to detail, and logic.
Questions are usually variations on:
- Why our school/program?
- What has prepared you for it?
- Why now in your life?
Graduate schools have several reasons for giving you a chance to “speak” to them through a personal statement. They already have plenty of concrete information about you. What they don't know is why you're applying for this particular program, where it fits in your ideas about your future, what you bring to the department as a person and scholar, and what you hope to take away when you graduate.
Crafting Your Personal Statement
- Outline: Start by listing the pieces of information you want to convey, then move the items around until they flow in a logical, often chronological, way. Talk it through with friends or a Lazarus Center adviser, and have them write down the main themes they hear.
- Write: Elaborate on each item briefly, using the first person active voice (I) as much as possible, as well as a simple, direct style.
- This is not an academic essay. Avoid long or formal words and phrases. Admission committees read hundreds of essays each year; they're delighted when an applicant addresses them as human beings and gives them a clear picture of her readiness for—and awareness of—their field, program and expectations.
- You may choose to mention courses you're looking forward to taking, and professors with whom you'd like to study, if that will help your readers understand your interests.
The Lazarus Center for Career Development partners with Interfolio, the premier dossier, credentials and online portfolio service.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Interfolio work?
Interfolio gives you the power to collect, deliver and showcase your most important documents in an easy online system that you manage. You're able to store letters of recommendation, resumes, writing samples, evaluation forms and much more. Learn more about Interfolio.
Will the Lazarus Center send out references on my behalf?
No. If you need confidential references sent, you must set up an Interfolio account.
Do ALL graduate schools and organizations accept credentials from Interfolio?
No. Although most graduate schools and organizations will accept letters from Interfolio, some do not. It's important that you read and adhere to all application instructions for the schools or programs to which you are applying.
How much does Interfolio cost?
See the Interfolio website for subscription options.
Alternatives to Interfolio
Carefully consider your personal reference needs. For instance, if you're applying to graduate school or a job, you may not need Interfolio at all. Your recommenders can send their letters directly to the graduate school or employer of your choice.
How do I request that someone write a recommendation for me?
Read the Lazarus Center's quick guide to Requesting Letters of Reference:
Read this article from the Chronicle for Higher Education: “How to Ask for a Recommendation and How to Supervise the Faculty Member Writing It.”
Information for Letter Writers
Interfolio helps ease the burden for faculty asked to compose letters of recommendation. Learn more about Interfolio's direct uploading of documents. Learn more about submitting letters to Interfolio.
Committee Letters for Medical & Dental School Applicants
Applicants to Allopathic (MD) medical schools use Interfolio to store their individual recommendation letters and to deliver their committee letter packet to AMCAS.
Applicants to Osteopathic (DO) medical schools use Interfolio to store their individual recommendation letters, but the committee letter packets will be submitted to AACOMAS through Liaison CAS.
Applicants to Dental schools use Interfolio to store their individual recommendation letters, but the committee letter packets will be submitted to AADSAS through Liaison CAS.
Law School Applicants
Law references should be sent directly to LSAC by your recommenders.