What To Do When: A Sample Timeline of the Application Process

Some applicants have been successful applying a few months before they plan to register. Please use this as a guide only! Planning 16 months in advance of when you would like to start your program can reduce the stress which often accompanies applying to professional programs.


(Of your second-to-last year of university if you are currently in an undergraduate program, or grade eleven if you are in high school)

  • Send away for current calendars and application forms to all programs that you are interested in. Also, guidance centres, career centres and public libraries often have sets of calendars available. Many programs now have their calendars on the Internet. Their internet addresses are included in this book where available.

  • Check the admission requirements necessary for entry into the program. It is important to do this with the program’s current calendar since it is the ultimate source. If you are lacking a course or two, you still have time to register in a summer course. Also check the calendar to see if you are required to write an admissions test.

  • Apply to write admissions tests such as the GRE (Graduate Records Examination), the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test), etc. Application deadlines typically fall six weeks before the testing date. Please refer to the section on “Admissions Tests” for more information.


  • If you are a university student, pick up application forms for scholarships such as the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Ontario Graduate Studies (OGS) Scholarships from the School of Graduate Studies. If you are in high school, check with your guidance counsellor regarding scholarships and awards. Many scholarships are offered by corporations, institutions, and associations that are independent of the university you are applying to. To find out more about these opportunities, ask your librarian for The Grants Register, published by St. Martin’s Press. This book focuses more on scholarships for graduate-level education. For programs at the undergraduate level, refer to Winning Scholarships, by Michael Howell. The section on “Key Resources” provides you with full bibliographic details.

  • Identify programs that are of interest to you. Talking to professors/teachers can help you clarify your direction. Directories such as the Canadian Directory of Universities, Guide to Professional Programs in Canada, and Spectrum (for College programs) can also help.


  • You will usually require references from two or three professors/teachers. Becoming involved in faculty/student committee work, departmental or class representative positions, and research projects will help professors/teachers get to know you better.


  • Develop a short list of schools/programs you would most like to attend. If possible, visit their campuses and talk to current students over the Christmas holidays, reading week or summer vacation.

  • Work on your portfolio if you are applying to architecture, art college, journalism, etc.

  • Order official transcripts from the relevant educational institutions you have attended.


  • Application deadlines for teacher’s college, law school, medicine, and some social work programs precede deadline dates for most other programs. Apply to these programs in early to late November.


  • Apply to programs of your choice. Most professional program application deadline dates fall between January and May. Deadline dates vary depending on the program and the university.

The waiting begins for the acceptance/rejection letters!


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