Office of Minority Student Affairs
Career and Graduate School Preparation
Graduate school preparation
OMSA has a long and distinguished history of assisting students with preparation for graduate school selection, application and entrance exams. Students benefit from our ability to connect them to faculty, staff, students, alumni and other resources to ensure a successful transition to graduate programs at the University of Illinois and across the country.
We offer assistance with:
- Encouraging you to "think big"
OMSA staff members offer counseling and advice to help you select a field that is of interest to you and meshes with your passions. We also can help you with: deciding where to begin, developing a timeline for earning your advanced degree, fulfilling requirements, preparing for advanced study in various fields, visiting possible schools, finding financial aid, and more.
- Learning about graduate school programs
Many on our staff have already earned graduate degrees, and we are in contact with colleagues at Illinois and other schools offering advanced degrees. Let us use our experience to help you explore the possibilities. We encourage you to thoroughly research the possibilities before you apply. Get to know the professors, their research and publications to determine if the faculty members are people you would want to work with, and visit as many of your "short list" of schools as possible.
- Preparing for grad school
It's never too early to start thinking about graduate school and preparing for the requirements. We can help you develop a timeline to get on track and satisfy the requirements, and we encourage you to develop relationships with some of your professors while earning your undergraduate degree. The best recommendation letters come from those professors who know you well enough to write positively and from firsthand experience about your strengths.
Let us review your personal statement(s) to ensure that you are portraying yourself and your aspirations in the best possible way. Complete a draft of all application materials offline and allow us to review them before you begin the submission process. Request your recommendation letters from senior-most professors, do it well in advance of deadlines and clearly communicate specific deadlines. Follow up on all aspects of your application.
- Studying for entrance exams
We encourage you take practice tests, consult with academic advisors and/or grad students who recently took the exam you need to take, and allow plenty of time to prepare before you select a test date. We can help you prepare for this process.
- Finding financial aid
Complete the FAFSA and look for financial aid opportunities from the schools to which you plan to apply. Let us help you with information on fellowships, assistantships, scholarships, grants, fee waivers and more, ensuring that you explore all possibilities.
- Ensuring your success
Whether you stay at Illinois or attend a graduate program at another school, we care about you and your success. We encourage you to build a strong professional relationship with your mentor, but please contact us if you ever have questions or need a connection to resources and, of course, to let us know how you are doing. OMSA is always here for you.