Graduate School Abroad; Application Timeline

How To Get Into Graduate School Abroad

So you're toying with the idea of heading to graduate school abroad?

Having taken off to grad school in another country myself, I can confidently say that it is a fantastic experience, and well worth the effort. 

Don't let the poolside Instagram photos fool you however, I'm going to be honest here, it is hell of a lot of effort to organize, and has probably led to a few new grey hairs. So I'll go ahead and forewarn you now, you're going to need some serious drive and intense organizational skills to get you through the application process, paperwork, and bureaucratic nonsense.

No drive or organizational skills? Get some yesterday.

I would equate the time and effort put into the application process of grad school abroad to be about the same as adding another course to an already full course schedule each semester.

Having now warned you about the process ahead, I will mention that graduate school abroad will set you apart from the crowd, look killer on a resume, and will provide you with unparallelled experiences, and knowledge.

So let's get started! I'll make a few assumptions here that apply to most programs and countries. If the school year or program start date is unusual (ie. not in the fall), adjust accordingly.

What is the best time to start thinking about graduate school abroad?

The summer before your last year of university is what I would suggest. If you're already out of university; the summer before the year you want to go to school.


Research countries.

Do this the summer before your last year of undergrad. Get to know if the program you want to take in the country you're interested in will also be considered valid education in your home country. Learn about if programs are offered in a language you speak, and general details about student visas. Decide on a country or two that fits your needs.

Pick schools & programs.

You don't need to narrow down a hard and fast list that you will definitely apply to, but you need a general idea of the entrance requirements.

Most important entrance requirement that you'll need to  know and then prep for on top of your regular coursework is the test necessary for entrance. Examples: GMAT, MAT, LSAT, & GRE, etc.

Some programs will list just one type of test that is accepted, some will accept scores from a number of different tests. Pick the test that is most commonly used for your program and school and then...

August - October

Start studying.

I took the GRE, and most of the information I found online and from friends who had taken it was to give yourself 3 months to study. I was originally planning on taking the MAT, then realized for a few other programs I wanted I'd need the GRE so switched part way and only had a month to study for it.

Check around online and ask experienced friends about the amount of time they would suggest for your test. These tests are pricey, so I wouldn't suggest going in and winging it. There's no two ways about it, open the book and slow down the social life.


Take your test.

Best of luck!


Finalize schools.

Pick the schools you're set on, and begin preparing to apply.

My best tip is to make an application spreadsheet/document.

Every schools applications require different bits.

Some wants essays of varying length, some want letters of intent, some want you to pick a faulty advisor, some want you to pick a research interest area, some want reference letters mailed, some want them electronically to an email, some want your application submitted through the international office, some want it through the graduate school office, some want your first born child, some want your second child but not the first; you get the idea.

Organize all the application requirements in one document, and add in links to the important website pages so you can easily find them again.


Use my secret strategy to get into grad school.

It's worked for multiple people now.



Pick out some people you would like to reference you; suggested previous professors or employers. Ask them to be your reference, and give them the details of how the schools you're applying to would like each letter.

Also ask how long you should expect for the letter to be completed, and what would be an appropriate time to follow up and politely remind/harass for them to be completed.

Application Materials

Gather and write up all the needed application bits.



Once those reference letters have come back, send in all the application bits, pay the application fees, and cross your fingers.

Follow up with your application a couple weeks after submitting it to make sure the schools have everything they need from you.

January - March


Now would be a good time to start taking up your social life again as all you can do is wait, so you may as well make the best of your free non-application time.

March - April

Admission Decision

For the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume you got in; yayyyy! Congratulations!

Pick a school from all the offers you have, you in-demand student, you!

April - July

School Prep

You'll need to likely do things such as:

  • Apply for a visa
  • Show proof of finances
  • Find a roommate
  • Sign a lease
  • Submit your undergrad transcript
  • Make a budget
  • Apply for scholarships
  • Shop for Game Day attire (if you're going to school in the south)

August - September


Hop on your flight & go enjoy that education! You worked for it!


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Have you considered grad school abroad? Also, if you have questions, I'm happy to help! Leave them in the comments!