How and When Decisions Are Made
At this point you have done all of your research and have likely submitted your application(s) and all supplementary documents to your graduate school(s) of choice. Now you are waiting nervously to see if you get accepted. You will find that the decision-making process will vary depending on the program to which you have applied and between universities.
Typically, you will probably not hear a decision on your application until the application deadline date has passed as departments need time to review and compare all of the applications for that term. For programs that receive hundreds of applications annually, this process can be quite time-consuming.
Generally though, if you are a stellar candidate – that is, an applicant who has an exceedingly high GPA, has outstanding Letters of References and surpasses all of the other admission requirements – you will likely find out a decision fairly quickly after you submit your application.
If you are considered eligible, but not necessarily a top candidate, you may not hear anything for a while after the application deadline. For Carleton applicants who are in this mid-zone, the department to which you have applied will generally keep your application on hold for a subsequent round of assessments and admissions.
Throughout the process at Carleton, you will be able to track the status of your application online in Carleton Central. You can also follow up with the department to which you have applied for more information regarding your application status.
At Carleton, it is always the individual departments who review the applications first and then make recommendations to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, which makes the official Offer of Admission. Each department is different in how they assess an application. In some cases, the Graduate Supervisor will review your application and make a decision. In other cases, your application will go to an admission committee for review and recommendation or be passed around until a potential thesis supervisor is found. Some departments will even use a combination of assessment practices.
However, all departments will be looking at more than just your overall GPA when assessing your application. They will want students who will be the best overall fit for their program. As such, they will rely heavily on the Statement of Intent, Letters of Reference, Portfolio, Writing Sample, etc. If there are spelling errors or incomplete applications, this might be cause to be cut from further assessment.
Once a decision is made on your application, you will be notified by email.
Obviously, the best news to receive is that you have been accepted into the program to which you have applied. If you have been accepted to more than one program, you will then need to make a decision to choose the program you want the most. At Carleton, you will need to accept or decline your Offer of Admission in Carleton Central within 21 days from which the Offer was made unless there is a specified date.
It is a reality that not all applications can be accepted for admission. Some applicants will be declined admission to their program(s) of choice. However, this does not always mean that you were not a decent applicant as you may have been competing against candidates who were a better fit for the program(s) for any number of reasons and, as such, it can sometimes be difficult to provide specific reasons regarding this decision.
If you have already submitted your application and required documents, you can check the status of your application in Carleton Central. For a listing of various application status updates and their definitions, please visit our Application Status website.
Application Insider provides prospective students with a series of tips on how to apply to graduate school. The series is based on Carleton’s application policies, but the information can be useful in all graduate school applications. You can view the complete series here.
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