Whether you need further education to pursue the career you are interested in, or just want to continue studying a subject that you really enjoy, the next step is to explore programs and schools and go through the application process. Whatever your path, we can help.
Further Education Week
Thinking about getting more education after your time at U of T? Further Education Week is your chance to learn more from Career Centre experts and representatives from a wide range of programs.
Meet school representatives, learn about the application process and explore your future through a career fair, workshops and panel discussions.
Further Education Week typically takes place in October each year. Check back closer to the date for details.
Programs and schools
Graduate or professional programs, whether at the university or college level, can be a great way to get closer to working in your career. Before applying, think about the career you would like to pursue. Research the careers you are interested in to make sure that additional education is what you need.
Consider the following questions:
- Is further education in line with my career goals?
- Am I excited about the subject? Does it interest me?
- Is this the right time for me to go (personally, financially)?
- What percentage of program graduates find work in their field after they graduate?
- How do program tuition fees, materials, cost of living compare?
- Where are the schools located? What are their reputations? What is the campus, community life, and student services like?
- How large are the classes? What is the faculty/student ratio?
- Is there an internship, work-placement or field work opportunities attached to the program?
- What kind of financial aid is available?
- Are their opportunities to network with alumni once in the program?
What do schools look for?
Graduate schools are looking for future scholars in your field, not "well-rounded" students. Admission decisions are typically based on:
Before applying, learn more about the schools and programs you are considering by talking to people and researching online.
Talk to people:
- Participate in career exploration programs to find out what additional degrees are required or preferred in various careers
- Conduct informational interviews with professors and people working in your field to learn about what schools and programs they recommend
- Attend program information sessions, usually held in the fall, to learn about program requirements and application dates
- Visit the campus, see the facilities and talk with students in the program as well as recent graduates
- Talk to faculty at these schools about their research, whether they’re accepting new students in the coming year (and how many they are willing to supervise), and what they look for in a candidate
- When talking to school representatives, find out about the percentage of recent graduates that have been hired in their field as a result of attending the program
- Attend our Graduate and Professional Schools Fair held in the fall. At the fair, talk to school representatives from across Canada and around the world about what programs they offer
- For schools/programs in Canada visit Schoolfinder
- For programs in the United States try Petersons
- Research the programs and schools online and through U of T Libraries
- Learn about the future job prospects by investigating the labour market
- Investigate school alumni through LinkedIn; learn about their career paths; consider connecting and conducting information interviews
- See the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) Guide for help navigating different types of graduate programs
Have a back-up plan
It’s always good to have a back-up plan in case you don’t get in on your first try. You can:
- Re-apply next year; before that, talk to program admissions representatives and faculty to find out ways to make your application stronger
- Work and/or volunteer in a related field
- Consider other careers
How we can help
Attend a workshop or make an appointment with a career educator. You can also visit the Graduate and Professional Schools Fair in the fall, attend school and program information sessions or contact the School of Graduate Studies.
Apply to Graduate School
How to create an awesome application
1. Start early
It is important to start the application process early – it often takes more time than you would think to gather your references, transcripts, writing sample, personal statement, resumé/CV, and any additional materials required.
Your first step will be to contact individual schools for admission packages, which will detail everything you need to include in your application.
2. Prepare your references
References who make a strong case on your behalf can significantly add to your chances of getting into grad school. You will need between three and four references who can confirm your ability to succeed in and contribute to your program of study. References are usually professors and possibly people working in the field.
To ensure a strong reference, approach references early in the application process. If you are still an undergraduate, get to know your instructors and participate in class. Make yourself memorable to your potential references so that they can speak to your strengths later on.
Send a polite request email outlining how you know the individual and why you need the reference letter. Send them copies of your CV, transcript and remind them which of their courses you took. Ask them to highlight how your academic ability, accomplishments and experience match the area that you are interested in. Inform you references about which schools and programs you have applied to so that they will be prepared in case they are contacted. Thank your references.
3. Request transcripts
When ordering official transcripts from your college registrar, allow time for processing and take care to include complete addresses with your order.
4. Submit a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resumé
Most programs will request a CV or resumé as part of the application. Although some programs specifically request a CV, not everyone is in a position to write a formal CV (which typically focuses on research and teaching experience). For students coming out of an undergraduate degree with little teaching or research experience, the required CV will most likely take the form of a modified chronological resumé targeted towards academia.
5. Write your personal statement
Most programs will require you to write a personal statement, also known as a letter of intent, personal essay, statement of purpose or application essay.
See the section below for details on how to write a compelling personal statement.
6. Write admissions tests
Find out if your program requires an admissions test as a part of your application. If you need to take a test, it must be written in advance to ensure scores are received by the admission deadlines.
See the section below for more information about admissions tests.
7. Excel in admission interviews
Finally, depending on your program, you may be asked to attend an admission interview. It’s important to prepare and know what skills, knowledge and experience are needed to enter into the program. Prepare examples from your experience that demonstrate your knowledge and abilities. Practice interviewing with friends, family or one of our career educators. Even if your program does not have a formal interview, you may be informally evaluated during on-campus visits. Be prepared to make a strong, positive impression every time.
How we can help
Personal statements are a part of the application package, and are often answers to open-ended questions. They are also called letters of intent, personal essays, statements of purpose or application essays. They vary in length – check with the program for the exact word count and what the statement should include. View our video on Personal Statements, download our PDF and attend our Graduate and Professional Schools Fair for tips on writing personal statements that stand out.
Why do schools request them?
You present yourself to the application committee through your personal statement. It’s your opportunity to go beyond what has already been revealed about yourself in the other pieces of your application. It’s also an opportunity to talk about the skills you have that relate to the program and that you have the ability and motivation to succeed in the field. Showing how you are unique is the most important thing.
While you need a solid application, a strong personal statement could be the deciding factor for a committee considering several applicants of equal strength.
- Research the institution to understand the culture and vision; tailor your statement to each one. Know the program/school’s research strengths and their faculty’s area of expertise.
- Talk about your strengths and discuss your options with your professors and T.A.’s – they will be able to speak to your strengths with respect to the discipline that you wish to study.
- Reflect on your life and experiences. What experiences or education made you want to pursue further studies? What appeals to you about the program — what is unique about it? What can you bring to this area of study — your unique perspective? What do you plan to do once you finish your studies — your long-term goals?
Before writing the entire document, make sure your first paragraph is engaging and includes a marketing pitch.
- Speak from your heart, be confident and positive.
- Focus on specific experiences and achievements that confirm your marketing pitch – not your whole life history.
- Always keep the audience in mind – professional schools have a different focus than master's or doctoral programs.
After taking a break, come back to your draft:
- Did you answer the questions specified in the application?
- Does the document reflect strong interest in the program?
If you are asked about undergraduate research projects, list projects in order of interest and use working titles. Mention the name of your professor and/or supervisor. Explain how your research is relevant to the program. Identify relevant skills developed (such as communication, analytical, organizational or problem solving skills).
Get a second opinion
Standardized tests (LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, etc.) are often required when applying to professional faculties such as Law, Dental or Medical School. Graduate schools in the United States typically require admission tests like the GRE, but they are less commonly requested by Canadian graduate schools.
Check with each school to determine their criteria. Remember to register early and that, if your score isn’t high enough, there may be a chance to re-write. To perform at your best, consider taking practice tests or enrolling in a test preparation course.
How we can help
There are many testing centres across Canada, although most tests are administered through American agencies. Check their websites for test dates and instructions to register:
- GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
- GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)
- LSAT (Law School Admissions Test)
- MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
- DAT (Dental Aptitude Test)
- PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) (*Note that U of T uses its own exam called the University of Toronto Pharmacy Admissions Test (UTPAT))
- SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
- TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based test)
Med School Interviews
The purpose of the interview for medical or other professional schools is for the admissions committee to assess your suitability as a candidate. In addition to your application documents which may have included your personal autobiographical sketch, personal statement, academic standing, and MCAT scores, the interview is another opportunity for the admissions committee to further assess different aspects of your candidacy. They may be trying to assess relevant skills such as communication, problem solving, and critical thinking, as well as your knowledge of the health care system and medical profession and any experiences that you have been involved in that have given you insights into the profession and confirmed your desire to be part of the medical community. Additionally, the admissions committee will also be evaluating your level of commitment as well as personal characteristics that will make you a suitable candidate for the role of a doctor or other health care profession roles. As such, the interview is an excellent opportunity for you as a candidate to highlight and share your skills, experiences and attributes that will make you an ideal candidate. Download this PDF document for more information on types of interview formats, pre-interview research and preparation, types of question, preparing questions to ask the interviewer and next steps.