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Required Documents for Graduate School Application

Required Documents for Graduate School Application


Whereas applying to an undergraduate studies program may seem easier and pretty much straightforward, the graduate school application process can be tedious and sometimes stressful. The challenge of completing your graduate studies can be due to several factors, but knowing the required documents and gathering these documents for your graduate studies application will be discussed in this article. Although the required application documents may vary depending on the school and program, there are some documents that are required regardless of the program or institution you are considering to apply to. Specifically, you may need to gather documents such as a Sample Written Work, a Statement of Purpose, Academic references, Undergraduate Transcripts & Certificate, a Resume, English Proficiency results (if applicable), and GRE or GMAT (if applicable). 


Required Documents for Graduate School Application

1. Writing Sample or Sample Research Work

A Writing Sample is any academic work that you have done while studying at the undergraduate level. A sample work is usually required for research-based programs to assess your research and writing skills. It is important that the sample work is related to the specific area in the program you want to apply to. For instance, if you are applying to a graduate program in Political Science with a specialization in Public Policy, you may need to submit a sample work on a related topic in Public Policy – perhaps, on a topic that is related to your research interest. Although this may not be required for application to all graduate programs, it is important to confirm from the program’s website for program-specific requirements and instructions regarding the writing sample. Note that the sample work can be a copy of a paper you have written for one of your undergraduate courses.

If you are applying to a PhD program, the writing sample could be one of your term papers or any academic publications. Mostly, the required length of the paper may vary, depending on whether you are applying to a Master’s degree or a PhD program. 

2. Statement of Purpose 

A Statement of Purpose, also referred to as a Statement of Intent or Personal Statement, is an important requirement for a graduate school application that informs the admission committees about who you are, what your current academic interests and future professional interests are, how you developed those interests, and explains the ways you will add value to the graduate program you intend applying to. The Statement of Purpose is very crucial for admission into the program you are applying to, as it is the only way to let the admission committee know you have the requisite skills and attitude to complete the program and contribute to the success of the department. The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements for the Statement of Purpose. Hence, it is important to check these requirements. Read more …

3. Academic References or Recommendation Letters

Academic References are required to complete your application process. Depending on the institution you are applying to, your referees may be required to submit the reference letters directly to the school via a link which will be sent to them. Once you submit your application, a link will be sent to your stated referees to complete the reference letters. To ensure your reference letters are submitted in time before the application deadline, advise your preferred referees beforehand, and submit your application early to allow them enough time to complete your reference letters.

First, reach out to your professors –include your transcript– to request their permission to use them as your referees for a graduate studies application. Depending on the institution, the number of required referees may vary from two to three faculty members. Secondly, give them a reasonable amount of time to complete the process, and have them check their spam or junk folders if they reach out that they did not receive the link on their work email. Other institutions may require that you upload the reference letters when submitting the application. Be sure to check the specific instructions on how the reference letters should be submitted. 

4. Academic Transcripts and Diploma

An Academic Transcript lists all the courses completed, grades achieved and confirmation of all exemptions. You will need to request for the official academic transcripts to complete your graduate studies application. Some institutions may require that your academic transcripts are mailed from your institution to a postal address provided on the graduate program’s website. Make sure you review the institution and program specific requirements for instructions about how to submit your transcript. Institutions may also require you to upload a copy of your undergraduate or graduate diploma (certificate). Ensure that you scan you certificate into PDF document, and check the program requirements for the recommended size before uploading the document.

5. Language Requirements and GRE/GMAT 

Not all institutions or graduate programs require a Language Test of Standardized tests such as GRE or GMAT.  Depending on the country, institution, and program, you may be required to submit test results to prove your proficiency in speaking and writing or a test result for GRE or GMAT. English Proficiency tests such as IELTS or TOEFL may not be required for applicants who had majority of their previous studies from countries with English as the primary language for teaching and learning. You may request for an English Proficiency Letter from your institution if you meet the requirement for the Language Test waiver. GRE or GMAT may be required to test your Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical reasoning skills for graduate studies. The standardized test is an admission requirement for many graduate schools in the United State of America and Canada, as well as some other countries.

Be sure to check the admission requirements for the program you are applying to. If a standardized test result is required and you have not taken the required  test yet, allow some time to complete the test before applying to the program. Note that, your application will not be considered if you miss any mandatory requirements. 

Required Documents for Graduate School Application



It is important to submit a strong application in order to be admitted into the program with enough scholarship and funding to support your studies. Note that scholarships and funding for graduate studies admission are awarded on a highly competitive basis. As a result, you need to provide all the required documents to stand the chance of entry into the graduate program. Refer to to the article on Starting your Graduate Studies Application: Tips & Tricks for a guide on the steps toward a strong graduate studies application.




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