Making a Grad School Plan: From Application Through Orientation

For many students, especially those who may be the first in their families to pursue a graduate degree, the pathway to master’s and doctoral education is not always clear. This book aims to demystify the “hidden curriculum” of applying to graduate school and offers suggestions for planning and organizing the process. Students will find an overview of different degree types and advice on selecting potential programs and preparing the strongest application possible. We also provide ideas for maintaining work-life harmony and building supportive networks once a program begins.

Plan for Graduate School

The Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN)

An NSF project that provides resources to students from Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities to help them access graduate education in the physical sciences.

Imagine Ph.D.

A website for prospective graduate students in humanities and social science fields to help them plan for graduate school and career opportunities after graduation.

ScienceCareers myIDP

An individual development plan (IDP) creator for scientists created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to help prospective graduate students and early career researchers establish their goals and create an achievable action plan to realize them.

American Psychological Association IDP

A website for graduate and postdoctoral students exploring how to create individual development plans (IDPs), their use, and how they can clarify career pathways.

Cornell University Pathways to Success

Comprehensive planning resource to help students navigate the choice to go to graduate school, plan for how to get there, and assess career opportunities after graduation.

Pipeline to the PhD Bootcamp

Free access to recordings of virtual bootcamp sessions hosted by the University of California Berkeley. This program was designed to demystify the Ph.D. for underrepresented students. All prospective doctoral students are welcome to access these sessions.


Webinars hosted by MIT Office of Graduate Education on how to apply and succeed in graduate school from the student persective.

Virtual Event: How to Create a Competitive Graduate School Application

The GRE hosts virtual events with experts in graduate education on the graduate school application process from the faculty reviewer viewpoint, including specific tasks to ensure you put together a competitive grad school application.

Financial Aid and Support

NSF 101: Graduate and postdoctoral researcher funding opportunities

A comprehensive list of funding opportunities offered to graduate and postdoctoral students by the National Science Foundation. The list is broken down by level of study (graduate or postdoctoral) as well as by field of study.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. A goal of the program is to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM. The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual stipend of $37,000.

Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Students (FAFSA)

An overview of how Federal Student Aid works for graduate and professional students as well as how it differs from undergraduate financial aid programs.

Applying and Enrolling

April 15 Resolution

The April 15 resolution is an agreement among the signatory graduate schools to provide applicants until April 15 to consider offers of admission that also include financial support. Learn more about participating institutions and other stipulations on the CGS website.

Preparing for the GRE General Test

A suite of free and low-cost tools provided by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to help students prepare to the take the GRE general test.

A Helpful Grad School Application Timeline

A month-by-month timeline for applying to graduate school with insights from graduate administrators.

Writing the Statement of Purpose – University of California, Berkeley

This webpage provides helpful tips to help prospective graduate students get started writing their statement of purpose. Includes information about what a statement of purpose should convey to the application reviewer as well as differences between a statement of purpose and a personal statement.

Four tips for applying to graduate school

Brief set of tips provided by the American Psychological Association about how to navigate the graduate school application process.


Mental Health and Well-being

Maintaining physical and mental health throughout the graduate school process is essential for program success.

CGS Project on Graduate Student Mental Health and Well-being

This 2019 CGS project examines the challenges surrounding graduate student mental health and well-being with research papers, a project report, and webinar.

IGEN Resources for Supporting Graduate Student Wellbeing

Resource sheet with links to articles and websites on core issues of graduate student mental health and well-being including feelings of unworthiness, PTSD, and mindfulness.

Career Preparation and Outcomes

CGS Career Pathways Projects

A suite of resources, projects, and research about careers for master’s and doctorate holders. Includes information about career diversity for graduates interested in exploring career options outside of academia.

CGS Master’s Degrees at Work

This campaign highlights the value of a master’s education in five key areas: public K-12 education, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, cybersecurity, and museums and culture. Explore this page to discover stories from master’s students and relevant workforce facts.

CGS GradImpact

The mission of GradImpact is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education for not only an individual, but also their community.

Discipline-Specific Resources

American Chemical Society Virtual Career Services

Take advantage of virtual office hours or personalized coaching with the American Chemical Society.

Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates – National Institutes of Health

Advice on possible pathways and opportunities for students interested in working in the biomedical sciences. Includes general resources as well as information about NIH research positions.

Resources for Graduate Students – American Historical Association

A guide for prospective graduate students in history with general advice about applying to graduate school combined with discipline-specific guidance about how to choose a program and major milestones within degree programs (foreign language requirements, comprehensive examinations, theses, etc.).


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