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How Many Grad Schools Should I Apply To?

How Many Grad Schools Should I Apply To? Congrats on your decision to apply to graduate school! Of course, you have many questions about the process. First things first: How many grad schools should you apply to? The answer is not as simple as “as many as you’re interested in,” because there’s a cost associated with each application. However, it’s also not simply a matter of applying only to the programs that are the most likely to admit you. Here are some important factors to consider in answering this question for yourself.

How many graduate schools should I apply to?

How many graduate schools should I apply to? This is a question that’s been asked over and over again, but unfortunately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. The number of schools you apply to should be based on your personal situation, academic record, and funding situation.

If you’re looking for general guidelines as far as how many schools to apply to go with the following:

  • If you have a high GPA or GRE score then aim for more than five.
  • If your grades are average or low then aim for less than five.

Tips for choosing your graduate school application strategy

In general, I recommend that you apply to a few schools that you are really interested in. Ideally, these would be schools that you think you have a good chance of getting into. If your goal is research-based Ph.D., then this means applying to some top-tier programs and a few mid-tier programs.

If your goal is clinical psychology or counseling, then this means applying to both top-tier and bottom-tier programs (the latter may have more options for training).

I also suggest applying to some schools that are a good fit for you and/or do not require as much money. This could mean an online M.A., an M.A./PhD program, or even just an online MFA program (if your interests lie in graphic design).

One more thing: make sure it’s affordable!

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The number of graduate programs you should apply to depends on a few key factors

The number of graduate programs you should apply to depends on a few key factors, including your academic record and the competitiveness of the programs you’re interested in. If you have a low GPA or if your field is highly competitive (e.g., business), it’s best to apply to more programs than less so that even if one or two turn you down, there will be plenty more where that came from. Conversely, if your GPA is high and/or the field is less competitive (e.g., history), then you can afford to be more selective by applying only to those schools that are truly top-choice options for you.

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How likely are you to get into a specific program?

Before you decide on how many grad schools to apply to, it’s important to consider their admissions rate. The admissions rate of each program is a good indicator of your chances of admission and the strength of that particular program. For example, if you are applying for an engineering degree from MIT with an acceptance rate of 8%, then your odds are pretty low. However, if you apply for an MFA from University Of Southern California’s School Of Cinematic Arts (23%) or an MBA from Stanford Graduate School Of Business (21%), then there’s a good chance that you’ll get accepted.

If two programs have similar rankings but different admission rates, then we would recommend applying for more prestigious programs with higher acceptance rates because these institutions tend to be much stronger academically than less prestigious ones with lower acceptance rates–which means they’re also likely more competitive!

What is the cost (both in money and time) per application?

  • Application fees. The cost of application fees can vary by program, but they usually range from $50 to $100 per school.
  • Travel expenses. If you’re traveling to campus interviews, these costs will vary depending on how far away your chosen schools are located and whether or not you need transportation between cities. You’ll also have to pay for your own food and accommodations while on campus.
  • Time spent on applications and interviews. This varies based on the number of programs you apply to, but it’s safe to assume that if you’re applying broadly (e.g., more than 20), then each individual application will likely take at least 30 minutes—and that’s not including any time spent researching schools or preparing letters of recommendation!
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Are you applying to different types of degree programs or schools?

The answer to this question depends on what type of degree you are pursuing, as well as your personal preferences. If you are applying to a master’s program, consider whether you would be interested in attending a traditional or online program.

If you have decided on one type of school but still aren’t sure which schools to apply to, read on! We will break down the basics of how many grad schools should I apply to based on major and career goals so that no matter where you end up applying, we can help guide you through the process.

How strong is your academic record?

One of the first things you should do when starting your application is look at your academic record. Your GPA and GRE scores are a good indication of how well you did in school and how competitive you are as an applicant. However, it’s important to also consider other factors such as your school’s reputation in your field, major emphasis on research rather than teaching (which can be better for a grad program), extracurricular activities that demonstrate commitment to your field (such as participation on a sports team), or any awards or fellowships that demonstrate achievement outside the classroom or lab.

One way to make sure these factors will help with getting into graduate school is by choosing schools that fit what interests you academically but also have an impressive reputation in terms of their graduates’ success after graduation. Since these achievements aren’t always easy for applicants to see upfront, it’s often helpful for students working towards earning their master’s degrees to attend conferences where they can visit potential graduate schools firsthand and talk with current students about what life is like there. This gives applicants firsthand knowledge about whether or not they would be happy studying at each respective institution

How competitive are the programs you’re applying to?

The first thing to do is look at the acceptance rates for the schools you’re applying to. You can find this information on their websites and on third-party sites like College Prowler and Niche that provide data about schools and universities. The lower the acceptance rate, the more competitive it will be.

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If a school has a low acceptance rate, it may mean that they have high standards for their students or that they don’t accept many applicants at all. That said, it also means that if you meet those standards and are accepted into medical school, chances are good that your application will stand out from other applicants who were rejected because of their GPA or MCAT score (or lack thereof). You may even get in when someone with higher grades didn’t!

You don’t need to apply to every graduate school you’re interested in attending, but do consider your chances of admission when building your list

When deciding how many grad schools you should apply to, keep in mind what your chances are of admission. If you’re applying to a program that has very few spots available and is extremely competitive, you might want to apply to only one or two other programs as backup options.

If you have good grades and a strong academic record, it may be worth applying for more than one program if the cost isn’t too much for your budget. The same goes if your career goals don’t require that you attend an Ivy League institution or flagship state school—but instead would allow for a smaller college with lesser-known name recognition.

In general, remember that each college or university will have its own requirements and procedures when it comes time for student applications; so do research ahead of time on how they will handle these things prior to submitting any paperwork (and keep track of deadlines!).


In sum, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many graduate schools you should apply to. As we’ve discussed, everyone’s situation is unique, and the best course of action will depend on your personal circumstances. But at the end of the day, your goal should be to create a list that allows you to maximize your chances of admission without becoming bogged down by excessive costs or workload. If you can keep these key factors in mind as you put together your list of schools, then graduate school applications don’t have to be so stressful!

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