The Cooper Union


















Engineering Graduate School Timeline

Over a third of Cooper Union graduates report that they will attend engineering graduate school directly after graduation, and many more will return to school later on. The following timeline has set out to demystify the graduate school application process. Students applying to medical or law school should use the respective timelines supplied.

Applying to graduate school can be a difficult process, but it doesn't have to be. The following timeline offers some recommendations to make your application process a little easier. As you will notice, this process is not isolated to your last year as an undergraduate; in fact, you should begin looking at some aspects early in your sophomore year if not earlier. If you come across this timeline a little later in your college career, however, there is no need to panic. You may just have a little catching up to do. These guidelines should be of some help no matter where you are in the process.

Sophomore Year

Begin building a strong GPA. Because you will apply at the beginning of your senior year and your freshman year may be viewed as a transition period, graduate schools will primarily look at your sophomore and junior years as far as grades are concerned.

Get involved in volunteer or work experience related to your targeted field. Graduate schools like to see exposure to a research setting, so consider doing getting involved in the NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, either this summer or next.

Junior Year

Keep your GPA up.

Get to know your faculty. Most graduate programs require three letters of recommendation and they do not want to receive generic letters from professors who only know what grade you received. Complete and hand the Letter of Recommendation Request Form (DOC) to faculty who are completing your recommendations to remind them of your background and career goals.

Consider taking the required graduate exams if necessary.

Research programs in your field. Collect school catalogs, contact the professional/licensing organizations, speak to current students/graduates of interesting programs, consult reference books, websites or software. Princeton Review and the US News & World Report Rankings can be of help.

Identify which standardized tests are required for admission and when they are offered during the year. For many programs, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) will be required.

Summer following your Junior Year

Mail away as earlier as possible for applications and information from the schools in which you are interested.

Register and study for the GRE if necessary.

Think about whom you will ask for letters of recommendation. It is good to ask professors at the beginning of fall semester and give them at least a month of time for completion, due to the many requests they receive for letters. Try to ask professors who can give you a positive character reference as well as good academic recommendation. Remember, graduate schools use these references as an indicator of your ability to work at a graduate level. Complete and hand the Letter of Recommendation Request Form (DOC) to faculty who are completing your recommendations to remind them of your background and career goals.

Create and maintain contacts with potential reference writers (professors, supervisors, etc.)

Begin filling our financial aid forms and consider your budget.

Begin drafting personal statements.

Senior Year

Note, the timing is dependent on the application deadlines of the individual school you are applying to.


Select schools to apply to (both reach and safety schools).

Register and continue preparing for admissions tests.

Request financial aid information from schools.

Request your recommendations as soon as possible. Recommendations and applications can be due as early as the beginning of December, depending on the graduate school.

Talk to faculty advisors and professors for advice.

Make several photocopies of applications and begin to fill them out.


Take required admissions tests if you have not already done so.

Visit institutions of interest, if possible.

Budget for application fees ($25.00-$75.00 per school).

Complete and submit applications.

You will be required to send a number of official transcripts from each college or university you have attended, regardless of how many units were completed or whether courses were eventually applied towards degree requirements (this includes any summer school classes that may have been taken at another college).


Retake graduate school admissions tests, if necessary.

Continue to complete applications for admission, assistantships, and fellowships.

Confirm that letters have been sent by deadlines.

Send thank-you notes to reference writers.


Finish and send in remaining applications. Even if the deadline is later, submit your applications as early as possible.

Verify the receipt of all admission materials (application, transcript, exam score, letters of recommendation, etc.). Complete and hand the Letter of Recommendation Request Form (DOC) to faculty who are completing your recommendations to remind them of your background and career goals.

Fill out the Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) if applicable.

Evaluate admission offers.

Contact programs about the possibility of visiting. Make trips if possible.

Let your reference writers, professors, and Alumni Office know where you got in and where you're going!


Continue to apply for assistantships if you don't already have one.

Make housing arrangements.