Graduate School Resources at Bates

Whether you are just beginning to think about graduate school or trying to decide which program or school is right for you, Bates faculty and staff are an excellent resource and knowledgeable about particular areas of study.

Questions about the application process can be directed to Blake Edwards or Hoi Ning Ngai at Purposeful Work.

Students interested in applying for prominent nationally competitive awards such as the Fulbright, Rhodes, and Watson should contact Robert Strong at Graduate Fellowships.

Additional resources for writing personal statements are available through Writing @ Bates.

Graduate School Guide:

If you are thinking about applying to graduate school, here are some things to consider. Please schedule an appointment with Blake Edwards or Hoi Ning Ngai at Purposeful Work to get started!

Questions to ask yourself

  • Why do you want to go?
  • What degree(s) would be best for your goals?
  • What other factor(s) are important to consider?
  • Who at Bates (and beyond) can assist you?
  • When and how should you start preparing to apply?
  • Are you sure?

Why you should go to grad school

  • You want to study something you are passionate about and/or have not had a chance to study yet
  • Your desired career/occupation requires an advanced degree
  • You are well-established in your career but you want to increase your earning potential with an advanced degree

Why you should not go to grad school

  • You really enjoy being in school (e.g., structure) and/or you think you have momentum now that you will not have later
  • Someone else is insisting you do it (e.g., family, friends, alumni, advisors/mentors, well-meaning professionals)

Getting started and researching opportunities

  • Know what discipline/subject or kind of academic/professional work you want to focus on
  • Know which degree would be best for your goals (e.g., Master’s, Ph.D.)
  • Research programs on a national and international scale — rank them based on your personal and professional interests and priorities
  • Talk to Bates faculty and staff; program faculty, staff, students, and alumni; as well as professionals in your field of interest about programs and schools to consider
  • Explore professional associations, academic journals, and the following websites:

Questions to ask when speaking with graduate program representatives


  • What is the curriculum?
  • How long does it typically take to complete the degree?
  • What are the demographics of the student body?
  • What are the criteria for choosing teaching, research, and graduate assistants?
  • How substantial and reliable is the financial support?
  • What types of jobs have been attained by recent degree recipients?
  • Can I connect with current students and recent alumni to discuss the program?

Advice for contacting programs and faculty of interest


  • Identify programs that best align with your academic/professional interests
  • Identify several professors in each program – connect your interests with their research
  • Read some of their work (especially current work) before reaching out to them
  • Email questions regarding the program and/or articles or books they have written
  • Indicate your own interests and propose topics that you might want to pursue

Application process and criteria

  • Identify 6-15 schools that seem like a good fit (at least 2 safety, 2 target, 2 reach schools)
  • Take tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT) only when you are prepared and ready. Do not take them just to give it a whirl — all scores will be seen
  • Consider the strength of your grades, test scores, and other application components
  • Address academic and relevant personal challenges in your application materials

Personal statement

  • Demonstrate interest in and knowledge of the discipline/subject or kind of academic/professional work you want to focus on
  • Highlight relevant experience
  • Connect your interests to the program
  • Address relevant academic and/or career goals
  • Articulate your personal/professional mission/vision
  • Be interesting and unique — schools read a lot of applications and you want to stand out

Letters of recommendation

  • Identify faculty who know you well and will write a positive, personal recommendation
  • Discuss specific post-grad academic/professional plans with them
  • Provide them with relevant materials, including your resume, transcript, and written work
  • Let them know when and where you are applying, especially if they have a connection
  • Write thank you notes during the application process and after you receive decisions
  • Ask for letters of recommendation before you graduate – faculty know you best during your time at Bates; you can have letters sent directly to an online dossier service such as Interfolio and store them there until needed

How to pay for graduate school

  • Contact the program representatives for each program to find out what kind of financial support they offer and how/when to apply
  • Connect with the Financial Aid Office for graduate students at each school to find out what kind of financial support they offer and how/when to apply
  • Research options such as: teaching assistants, research assistants, graduate assistants, fellowships, grants, and loans (especially subsidized loans)
    • EXAMPLE: The National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious fellowship available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in the natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, engineering, or STEM education. Students are eligible to apply twice — once before they start graduate school, and once in their first year of graduate school.
  • Check out these websites: Finaid and Access Group Education Lending

What should you do if you don’t get in?

  • If you are waitlisted, be sure to stay in contact with applicable schools and provide updates regarding your most recent grades, awards, honors, and/or relevant experience
  • Meet with faculty and Purposeful Work staff to discuss weaknesses in your application, such as grades and test scores
  • Demonstrate commitment and interest in the field by gaining work experience and/or taking relevant courses before reapplying
  • Apply to more schools, especially safety schools, in your next round of applications