- Schedule to take the GRE if you have not already done so. Taking the GRE early in the year gives you time to re-take it if you need to improve your score.
- If your first language is not English, arrange to take the TOEFL.
- Contact your undergraduate or Master's advisor to discuss your interests. Ask them about general application practices and specific universities that specialize in your areas of interest.
- Research the schools your advisor recommended. Take a look at the faculty pages and note professors whose interests align with your own, aiming for two or three professors whose interests overlap with yours. Acquaint yourself with their current research by checking out and reading their most recent published works.
- Familiarize yourself with the admissions process and deadlines for the schools to which you have chosen to apply. Begin gathering the required application materials (GRE/TOEFL scores, academic transcripts, writing sample, etc.)
- Begin writing your statement of purpose. Have GRE/TOEFL scores and academic transcripts sent to your preferred institutions. They will be put on file until your application is complete.
- Email two to three faculty at your preferred institutions working in the areas of your interest. The discussions you begin with faculty are important in admissions decisions, as the department will only admit students whom faculty members believe they can advise well.
- Contact individuals acquainted with your academic work and ask if they would be willing to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. During the online application you will be asked to submit the names and contact information for your recommenders. You should give your recommenders a minimum of one-month notice before the application deadline.
- Check that your preferred institutions have received the required GRE/TOEFL scores and academic transcripts.
- Complete revisions of all required documents such as your statement of purpose and writing sample
- Contact recommenders to ensure they have submitted recommendations.
- Submit your application in advance of the relevant deadline (December 15 for international applicants; January 1 for US applicants)