Graduate School

It's important to evaluate your reasons for wanting to go to graduate school. Unlike most undergraduate experiences, graduate programs require that you have clear direction toward a certain career path. Ask yourself the following questions: Do my career goals require an advanced degree? Am I looking for a specialized degree only obtainable through graduate school? Do I have the motivation and desire to commit myself to the time and effort demanded by graduate school programs? Is it better for me to go part-time or get some work experience first? Make an appointment with the Career and Professional Development Office for assistance with your decision-making process.
If you are interested in learning more about Neumann’s Graduate Programs visit, Graduate Studies | Neumann University

Finding a program that fits your goals and professional interests is essential to a successful graduate school experience. Keep in mind that just because a program is in the top rankings by U.S. News & World Report doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed best fit for you. Consider the following criteria when selecting a program:

  • Do your qualifications (i.e. GPA, co-curricular experiences, coursework, and test scores) meet the minimum requirements?
  • What is the faculty to student ratio?
  • How long does it take to complete the curriculum?
  • What is the reputation of the program, and how does it compare with similar programs?
  • Does the philosophy/emphasis of the program fit with your interests and values?
  • What are the facilities like?
  • Will you be required to do research, internships, or a thesis?
  • What are faculty specialty areas or research interests? What kind of involvement have they had in their respective fields?
  • Are they well known in their areas of expertise?
  • Have they been active in research or publishing (tip: read some of their publications!)?
  • What are their distinguished achievements?
  • What are graduates of the program currently doing?
  • What was their experience like in the program?
  • What are the statistics on finding employment after graduation?
  • What kind of financial aid is available?
  • How many students secure graduate, research, or teaching assistantships?
  • What percentage of the tuition is covered through these opportunities?
  • Are there scholarships available?
  • How do you apply for aid?

Different programs have different requirements. It’s important to keep track of what each program requires as well as the deadline dates for each. You may want to keep a spreadsheet for each school you are researching. Below are some of the common requirements, depending on the type of program:

  • Official Transcript: this can be obtained through the Registrar’s Office in the Bachmann Building
  • Exam Scores: check to see what, if any, tests scores are required (i.e. GRE, Miller Analogies Test, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT).
  • Portfolio: some programs, such as those in the arts, require a portfolio which
    showcases your work.
  • Essays & Personal Statements: these writing samples should be taken very seriously. Your essays should be tailored to the specific schools to which you’re applying. For advice on writing your essay, refer to our guidelines on Writing a Personal Statement.
  • Letters of Recommendation: refer to our guidelines for advice about securing strong recommendation letters, as these are often critical to your success in the admissions process.
  • Interview: some programs require an in-person interview before they make their final decision. It’s critical that you take time to practice! Take advantage of a practice interview session available through the Center for Career and Professional Development.

If you're planning to apply to graduate school, it's best to start early.

Deadlines for application to master's programs tend to hit in January, February or March. Starting early will give you more time to prepare and polish your application.

Applying earlier will also increase your odds of being admitted. Many graduate programs have rolling admissions, so applications are evaluated as they arrive (rather than all at once). Spots fill up as the final deadline draws near.

By your junior year, you should be well on your way to clarifying your career goals and starting to make post-graduate plans. Serious discussions with your faculty advisor and other faculty mentors should begin, during which you seek advice about graduate programs to investigate and potential mentors for graduate study and research. If you have decided to attend graduate school, in the summer after your junior year you will begin the actual application process in earnest.


Create a calendar for recording all dates relative to your grad school application process — such as, test dates, application deadlines, dates you requested letters of recommendation, and interview dates. offers a graduate school credentialing service for a reasonable fee and also offers a customizable grad school calendar where you can track your applications. The credentialing service is an electronic portfolio where important documents, such as letters of recommendation, resume, writing samples and more are housed and forwarded on your behalf.

SUMMER (prior to senior year)

  • Begin drafting a statement of purpose/personal statement
  • Review options for graduate programs in your field using paper guidebooks and on-line sources and settle on a “short list” of programs to apply to
  • Determine which standardized tests you will need to take and when. Consider taking a prep class. Register for prep classes and tests and take both during the summer if possible.
  • Research graduate fellowships for which you might apply and prepare applications in time for early fall due dates
  • Make sure your undergraduate transcript is accurate and complete. Contact the Registrar's office and request corrections if needed.


  • Meet with faculty mentors to discuss preferred graduate programs, discuss your personal statement draft, and request letters of recommendation.
  • Obtain forms and materials needed to apply, register with on-line services, and otherwise prepare to complete applications.


  • Re-take standardized tests if needed, or take tests for the first time.
  • Write or revise any scholarly writing or research samples to accompany your applications.
  • Complete and submit applications with early deadlines or rolling admissions.


  • Submit transcript requests to the Registrar's office either in person or online. Determine which programs need transcripts early (before fall grades are posted) and which should receive transcripts after fall grades are posted.
  • Submit applications with December or January due dates.


  • Complete and submit applications for programs with relatively late deadlines. Generally March 1 is the latest of any program and most are earlier.


  • You may begin to receive letters offering admission, offering you a place on a waiting list, or politely denying your admission. It is almost always a good idea to wait until you have heard from all programs before making a decision about which to attend.
  • You may be invited to interviews at some of your schools. If an interview is optional, consider exercising the option in order to gain more information about the program and how well it meets your goals.
  • Make sure you have completed your FAFSA form if you want to apply for need-based financial assistance. Financial awards of a “merit” nature will generally be included in your letter of acceptance. The application for need-based aid may take longer to process.


  • You may want to make last-minute visits to schools that have offered admission, either to see them for the first time or to re-visit those that are on your very short list. If you do visit, plan ahead and make appointments with key individuals and prepare appropriate questions based on careful homework.
  • Generally, most students accept one of their offers by May 1. By accepting an offer and paying a deposit, you are indicating that you have decided not to accept any other offers. Accepting more than one offer to keep your options open longer is not an ethical strategy. Not only that, if the schools compare notes (and some do), you may jeopardize your standing with both schools/programs.

What is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement, or statement of purpose, is a brief and focused essay about your career or research goals that is part of the application package for a graduate or professional school. A personal statement is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the other candidates by demonstrating your unique qualifications to an admissions committee. It illustrates your writing ability, creativity, and career goals.

Types of Personal Statements

The general, comprehensive personal statement allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. Example: Tell us why you want to be a lawyer.

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specificquestions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions. Example: In a maximum of 600 words, write a personal statement discussing your interests, life experiences, goals and social commitment.

What Admissions Committees Want to See

Interesting, insightful, and non-generic personal statements

HOW the essay provides evidence of your achievements that is not reflected in other parts of your application

HOW and WHY the events that you describe have shaped your attitude, focus, and, most of all, your intellectual vitality

Before You Write

1. Reflect on and make notes about your:

Personal History

Prior life experiences, events, and achievements relevant to your career choice or application to graduate school

People who have influenced your decision to pursue this field or who have had a significant impact on your values as they relate to this choice

Academic Life

Academic accomplishments and recognitions

Research interests and prior experience

Professors who have influenced you the most academically

Work Experience

Previous jobs, volunteer experience, and extracurricular activities that have influenced your career choice or career goals

2. Ask Yourself These Questions:

What’s special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about me or my life story?

How did I learn about the field? What stimulated my interest in this field?

What characteristics and skills do I possess that enhance my prospects for success?

Have I overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships?

Are there any gaps or discrepancies in my academic record that I want to explain?

What are the most compelling reasons for the committee to be interested in me?

What are my short and long-term goals?

What is the most important thing for an admissions committee to know about me?


Have a clear idea of what you want to convey. Give your statement a theme, a thesis.

Tailor your personal statement to each individual program to which you are applying.

Answer the question or topic(s) posed in the application

Tell who you are. This is your personal statement; open up, get personal.

Concentrate on capturing the reader’s interest in the opening paragraph.

Find an angle, tell a story, set yourself apart from others.

Focus on depth of answers, as opposed to breadth.

Be evaluative in your writing rather than merely descriptive.

Write about aspects of yourself that readers cannot get from other parts of your application.

Offer specific, meaningful stories and experiences.

Express yourself clearly and concisely; use direct, straightforward language.

Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.

Be positive, upbeat, and confident.

Create a conclusion that refers back to your introduction and ties your points together. 


Preach to the reader.

Exaggerate your qualifications or experience.

Use gimmicks.

Discuss potentially controversial topics (e.g., politics or religion).

Exceed word or page limits.

Include extraneous material.

Use cliché language, especially in the introduction and conclusion of your statement.

Write what you think the committee wants to hear.

Relate personal details that are not relevant to your ability to be a successful graduate student.

After You Write

Revise. Revise. Revise.

Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

Have others critique your statement.

Make Your Personal Statement Work for You in Another Way

You can give your personal statement to your recommenders. Sharing your statement with your recommenders shows them how you plan to position yourself in the application process. If they are aware of what personal characteristics you want to emphasize, they can address those traits in their recommendation letters, thus sending an even more focused and powerful message about you to the admissions committee.

Resources at Neumann University

Career counselors at the Center for Career and Professional Development

Staff members at the Writing Center


Resources on the Internet

Purdue OWL: Writing the Personal Statement

The Statement of Purpose

Samples of Awesome Personal Statements

Law School

Whether you are seriously committed to pursuing law or it’s simply an idea you’ve casually bounced around, take some time to read through the important information in the following pages.

Who makes a good lawyer? Who is a strong candidate for law school? Assess your desire to pursue law by answering some critical questions.

For information about Neumann's Pre-Law track or law school in general contact:
Andrew J. Miller, M.A.
Advisor to Pre-Law Programs

Pre-Law program information in Neumann University Academics information under Undergraduate Studies>Arts & Sciences:

The decision to pursue the field of law is an important one – one that requires a great deal of self-assessment and reflection, research and exploration, and testing! First, it’s essential that you examine what’s at your core with regard to strengths, interests, and values. Second, explore exactly what law looks like in action. At the bare minimum, learn more though resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the American Bar Association, and books in the Career Center library. This is a good place to start, although we recommend that you take it one step further. Consider doing an information interview or a shadowing experience with a lawyer to hear firsthand about what it’s like to be in the profession. Try consulting with some of our alumni who are practicing in the field of law

If by now you’re still seriously interested in pursuing law, it is recommended that you become involved in co-curricular and experiential learning activities that will allow you to develop skills that are critical to the profession. Opportunities such as an internship at a law office, a position in the Student Government Association, or becoming involved in service experiences through Campus Ministry or Service Learning. The American Bar Association (ABA) suggests that "individuals who wish to prepare adequately for legal education, and for a career in law or for other professional service that involves the use of lawyer skills, should seek educational, extracurricular, and life experiences that will assist them in developing those attributes." We encourage you to talk with your faculty members about your interest in law. Also, take advantage of meeting with a career counselor to discuss your career planning and decision-making process.

  1. Your parents want you to be a lawyer. This is a big decision that should be yours alone.
  2. You simply like to argue. After doing some research, you’ll quickly discover there’s much more to law than arguing!
  3. You don’t know what else to do. If this is the case, it’s probably a good idea to embark on some serious self-assessment and career exploration. Set up an appointment with a career counselor to examine your strengths, interests, and options.
  4. You want to help people. Without a doubt, the majority of lawyers entered the field to help others in one way or another. However, this is one of thousands of helping professions that exist. Make sure it’s the one that fits you best.
  5. You want to work in a glamorous field. Law may sound glamorous, but it is actually a field that requires a lot of hard work and long hours. For some, the decision to enter law is based largely on the notion that it's a high-paying field. Income can change dramatically based on factors such as geographic location and the different sectors within the field of law. Once again, it’s important to do your research so that you can make an informed decision.

The Application Process

The application is a critical ticket to getting into law school. Therefore, you want to put together a thorough, impressive application package. Most schools require the same pieces:

A standard application form

Includes questions about personal information (address, birth date, social security number, college information, etc.)

Official transcript

Obtain official copies from the Registrar’s Office.

More information about the LSAT can be found in “Taking the LSAT."

Letters of recommendation

It’s important to choose individuals (i.e. professors, advisors, internship supervisors) who have seen your best work and recognize your potential. Talk with them about your goals, and ask if they would be comfortable serving as a reference for you. Provide them with a resume, unofficial transcript, and work sample so they can see the extent of your achievements. Be sure to give them plenty of time (at least 1 month) to complete their references for you, and provide reasonable deadlines. Remember to send your references a thank you note!

Personal statement/essays

The required essays reveal your writing and critical thinking skills. They also demonstrate your understanding of the profession and your commitment to becoming part of it. Give yourself plenty of time to complete these important documents, and always have them proofread.

The LSAC and LSDAS: What You Need to Know

The LSAC (Law School Admissions Council) “coordinates, facilitates, and enhances the law school admission process.” All law schools approved by the ABA are LSAC members. The LSAC provides services such as the LSAT, LSDAS, and other resources on applying to law school.

Any student who applies to law school will need to become familiar with the LSDAS (Law School Data Assembly Service). The LSDAS seeks to simplify the application process through a centralized service. After registering with the LSDAS, you will send one copy of all of your application pieces to the LSDAS. All of these key pieces will go into your file. Once your file is complete, you can purchase “releases,” through which the LSDAS will release your application to the designated schools.

The LSAT is a standardized test that is required for admission to all ABA-approved law schools. How well you do on the LSAT can dramatically affect which law schools will grant you acceptance. Offered four times per year, the LSAT measures acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills. The test consists of five 35-minute sections of multiple choice questions. The sections include one reading and comprehension section, one analytical reasoning section, and two logical reasoning sections. A 35-minute writing sample is administered at the end of the test. The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180, with 180 being the highest possible score. The top 20 law schools generally require a score of 165 or higher.

Boston College Law School Locator Use this helpful resource to find average GPAs and LSAT scores by school. This information is very important when matching your qualifications with minimum criteria for law programs.

Test dates and registration information is available on the LSAC website.

LSAT prep books are available for check-out in our resource library. More intensive LSAT prep courses, such as through Kaplan Test Prep, are available for a fee. More information about prep resources can be found through LSAC.

LSAT Practice Exams and Info

1) Do I need to declare “pre-law” in order to go to law school?
The answer is no. Here is a quote from the American Bar Association (ABA):
There is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education. Students who are successful in law school, and who become accomplished professionals, come from many walks of life and educational backgrounds. Some law students enter law school directly from their undergraduate studies without having had any post-baccalaureate work experience. Others begin their legal education significantly later in life, and they bring to their law school education the insights and perspectives gained from those life experiences. Legal education welcomes and values diversity and you will benefit from the exchange of ideas and different points of view that your colleagues will bring to the classroom.

2) Should I attend law school right after college, or should I wait?

There is no clear-cut answer to this question since much of it depends on the individual. Law schools are seeking mature, committed candidates who know what they’re getting into by going to law school. In addition, a great deal of value is often place on experience. Therefore, if you’ve had no exposure to the field of law by the time of graduation, or, if you are really uncertain as to your specialty area, you may want to take some time to explore the field through a job, internship or volunteer experience in the field. There are some law schools that require a certain amount of work experience before even applying for the program. To underscore the bottom line: know what you’re getting yourself into. Law school can be an expensive endeavor!

3) When do I need to begin preparing for law school?

As soon as law school is a viable option, do what you can to make the most of your college years to increase your marketability. Meet with a career counselor and faculty member early on to determine an optimum career plan.

4) What undergraduate classes are required for acceptance to law programs?

Although there is not one best path for an undergraduate curriculum to prepare you for law school, there are certain content areas that can enhance your preparedness.  At Neumann, Political Science and English are considered the best majors for law school, while a minor in History or Philosophy are also very helpful.  These subjects are very heavy in reading, writing, writing and critical thinking.  However, any major can take the LSAT and continue onto law school.  The ABA recommends courses that will help you develop the following set of core skills and values:

Analytic / Problem Solving Skills

Critical Reading

Writing Skills

Oral Communication / Listening Abilities

General Research Skills

Task Organization / Management Skills

Public Service and Promotion of Justice

In addition, there are some basic areas of knowledge that are helpful to a legal education and to the development of a competent lawyer. Some of the types of knowledge that would maximize your ability to benefit from a legal education include:

~ A broad understanding of history, including the various factors (social, political, economic, and cultural) that have influenced the development of our society in the United States.

~ A fundamental understanding of political thought and of the contemporary American political system.

~ Some basic mathematical and financial skills, such as an understanding of basic pre-calculus mathematics and an ability to analyze financial data.

~ A basic understanding of human behavior and social interaction.

~ An understanding of diverse cultures within and beyond the United States, of international institutions and issues, of world events, and of the increasing interdependence of the nations and communities within our world.

The Law School Admissions Council states: “Law schools want students who can think critically and write well, and who have some understanding of the forces that have shaped the human experience. These attributes can be acquired in any number of college courses, whether in the arts and humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences . . . As long as you receive an education including critical analysis, logical reasoning, and written and oral expression, the range of acceptable college majors is very broad. What counts is the intensity and depth of your undergraduate program and your capacity to perform well at an academically rigorous level.”

5) When should I take the LSAT?

It is most ideal to take the LSAT at the beginning of summer, following your junior year (registration for the test is typically due 1 month prior to the test date).  More intensive training courses, such as through Kaplan Test Prep, are also available for a fee. Additional info can be found through LSAC.

6) Does it make a difference where I go to law school?

Richard Montauk, J.D., author of the book, How to Get Into the Top Law Schools, states, “If you wish to go to law school, go to the very best one you can – the rewards of attending a top law school are compelling.” You must determine what is realistic based on your grades, LSAT score, application, and experiences based on the admissions requirements of particular schools.  The following are what Montauk views as the values of going to a highly-ranked law program:1) Career Choice. Many major corporate law firms and high-profile government jobs are seeking grads from top-notch law schools. Your professional goals should impact the law schools to which you apply. 2) Status. You need to decide how important this is to you. A Yale law graduate is likely to be more highly respected than a grad from an unknown school.3) Increased Pay. By and large, the more reputable the degree, the higher the pay.
*Keep in mind that, ultimately, the best choice is a program that suits your needs and interests. Additionally, one's specialty area of interest can greatly influence choice of school/program.