How to Create a Plan for Applying to Graduate School

Now that you have explored the strategic considerations of grad school, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of planning (if you haven’t read the article linked above, start there, and return here once complete).

Knowing what steps to take, how to take them, and when to take them to get into grad school are all critical components of forming a plan that is comprehensive and achievable.

Prepping for grad school can be intimidating, but — as the saying goes — the trick is to approach it like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. Once you break down the steps of applying to grad school into small and easy-to-accomplish pieces, your academic aspirations will be well within reach. So, let’s jump straight into planning!

Consider the timelines

Plan your personalized timeline

When considering your ideal timeline for grad school, there are a couple of questions to ask yourself. Will you be able to do this full-time? How quickly do you want to graduate? The answer to the former influences the ladder significantly. Some graduate programs allow you to work full-time in tandem with your studies, while others require your full attention and necessitate a significant lifestyle change. Knowing your ability to flex your current life and how long you’re willing to be a student can help whittle down your options to the programs that best fit your personalized timeline.

Learn the traditional admissions timeline and sequence

Most schools operate on a similar timeline — applications open late summer for the next academic year, deposit deadlines are around late spring, and your final decision is typically required in late summer before classes begin. We have put together an example outline of the action steps you might take on a traditional Fall-start timeline when considering grad school:

Begin Researching Spring prior to the year you enroll
Visit Campus Summer or Fall year prior to enrollment
Apply Fall or Winter year prior to enrollment
Explore Financial Aid Options Fall or Winter year prior to enrollment
Submit Deposit Spring of enrollment year
Enroll in Classes Semester prior to first Fall term
Start Classes Congratulations! Your graduate journey is ready to begin. At Multnomah, classes start in late August.


While this is an example of a traditional timeline, we want to mention that many grad schools have programs that start at all times of the year, whether it be Fall, Spring, or Summer. Multnomah’s grad courses operate on a cohort model, so you can start classes whenever a new cohort is starting up. Our admissions counselors will have that info on hand for you!

Familiarize yourself with the application process and requirements

Every school has different requirements for applications and enrollment. If you are curious about Multnomah’s process and requirements, here is a full list for most of our programs:

  1. Completed Graduate Application Form
  2. $40 Application Fee
  3. Christian Character Reference Form
  4. Academic or Professional Reference Form
  5. Official Transcript
  6. GPA Eligibility

In many cases, specific programs will have unique testing requirements. For example, if entering law school, you will need to pass the LSAT; if pursuing a psychology degree, you will need to pass the GRE (General Record Examination test). Familiarize yourself with the school and program’s requirements before you apply!

Understand the financial elements

Tuition is the cost you pay just for classes. This amount does not include additional expenses, such as books and housing. Most graduate programs are priced per credit, as opposed to the full-term cost you may have seen during undergrad. The school’s financial aid counselors will be able to get you an accurate estimate of what your program’s tuition will be.

Financial aid can be more complicated in graduate school. Undergraduate degrees often offer scholarships and grants, but this is typically not the case with graduate school. Depending on your program, stipends may be available through teaching, research, and managerial positions. Speak with your school’s financial aid counselors to explore options.

Net price is the amount to focus your attention on. This number is the bottom-line cost that accounts for your financial aid when calculating the out-of-pocket amount due for tuition. Most schools provide a net price calculator you can use to get an idea of the net cost you will be paying for your program. Here’s a link to Multnomah’s calculator for reference. However, one of the best things you can do is apply and then discuss your options with the school’s financial aid counselors.

Once you have considered your strategy and your plan, it is time to get started with the application process! If Multnomah and its various graduate and seminary programs are on your list, reach out to our admissions counselors! They are a great resource as you are getting started and can help answer your questions about everything we discussed in this article and more.