Graduate School Planning Checklist

Your education is an investment in your future. Explore the educational opportunities and environments available at the CSU by gathering information about graduate programs that can help you achieve your professional and personal goals.

Print the Checklist

1. Talk to faculty, advisors, graduate students and professionals.

  • Talk to students in the field(s) you're considering.
  • Discuss your interests with academic advisors on campus.
  • Talk to professionals in the field about educational paths that will lead toward what you'd like to do.

2. Gather information about graduate programs.

  • Catalogs and other publications cover program and course descriptions, academic requirements and admissions procedures.
  • Obtain information online about master's programs that interest you.
  • The "Choosing a Program" section on can assist you in your research, too.

3. Contact a CSU campus.

  • The graduate studies office at any CSU campus can help answer many of your questions.

4. Pay attention to deadlines for admissions and financial aid applications.

  • Begin the application process as soon as possible, as many programs fill up quickly.
  • Obtain and follow the instructions and deadlines required by each campus, department and program you'd like to attend.
  • You must apply to the CSU through Cal State Apply. If you cannot apply online, contact the campus graduate admissions office to make special arrangements to apply electronically with campus assistance.

5. Find out about application fees.

  • Fees are required when you submit graduate and professional school applications.
  • The CSU requires an application fee for each campus to which you apply.

6. Register and take any required tests.

  • Find out whether the graduate program you're interested in requires applicants to take examinations as a condition for admission. Information regarding which examinations, if any, are required may be obtained from the department. Required tests may include one or more of the following:
    • Aptitude, advanced, or area tests of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    • Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
    • Graduation Writing Exam (GWE)
    • California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) or California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET)
  • Applicants are responsible for having the required examination results forwarded directly to the department.

7. Find out whether supplemental materials are required for admission.

  • Departments and programs may have additional application requirements. Consult with the major department or program you're interested in for information about department requirements. Supplemental materials may include:
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Statement of purpose
    • Resume
    • Writing samples

8. Start researching funding sources and financial aid.

  • The CSU offers many resources to assist with the funding of your education. Visit "Paying for College" on to learn more.
  • Students seeking assistance should also contact the campus financial aid office.