Applying to Graduate School in the U.S.

This listing is provided as a resource for Nakatani RIES U.S. Fellowship Alumni and other students, faculty and staff who are interested in learning more about applying to graduate school in the U.S. This resource list is provided as a courtesy to our alumni and other students and does not imply endorsement by the Nakatani Foundation and/or Rice University. If you know of other helpful resources that you would like added to this page please email

Rice Center for Career Development Guides
Links to PDF guides, handouts and presentations on:

  • Graduate School Planning
  • Professional Communication
  • International Job Searches
  • LinkedIn
  • Presentations
    • Phone Interview Tips
    • Resume Writing
    • Interview Basics


3 Critical Graduate School Considerations for International Students 

8 Tips for International Applicants to U.S. Graduate Schools
For international students hoping to attend graduate school in the United States, the application process can seem a little intimidating. The key to getting in is to stay organized and ask for help when you need it. International students and domestic students go through the same application process. If you are a foreign applicant, however, there are a few extra things you should do.

10 Tips for Writing Your STEM Grad School Essay
On the STEM side, this process becomes more stressful. Many STEM MS, MA, and PhD candidates do not have a strong background in writing. It is important to research how to write in order to learn the steps and to best position yourself for success. Additionally, seeking our trusted guidance and reviewers for your grad application essays is the sensible step.

Rice University Resources 

Make use of the resources at your home university to help you with writing your graduate school application essays.  Resources will vary, but at Rice University some of the available offices include the following. Find out if similar offices exist at your home university

AAAS: How Not to Apply to Graduate School
Applying to college is a delicate, complicated procedure that can be mastered, but for most of us, applying to grad school is like, “Wait—shoot—uh-oh!” For the benefit of all of you applying to science graduate programs, I’m going to confess my mistakes in the hopes that you can avoid following in my footsteps—footsteps which, you’ll note, are not encased in self-made shoes.

Applying for Your U.S. Student Visa – For Graduate School (U.S. Dept. of State) 

Career Exploration for STEM PhDs (Columbia University)
As a graduate student you are among the most well-educated members of society. You have tremendous strengths and transferable skills to offer employers. There are many types of careers open to PhD students—we’ve included the more frequent options for students in the sciences here.

Choosing a Graduate Program (Chemical & Engineering News) 

Choosing a Graduate or Post-Doc Advisor (Science) 

Graduate School Application Timeline (Princeton Review)
If you’re planning to apply to graduate school, it’s best to start early—it will increase your odds of being admitted. Many graduate programs have rolling admissions, which means applications are evaluated as they arrive (rather than all at once after the final deadline). Here’s a sample schedule for a student hoping to enter grad school in the fall. This is a best-case scenario which leaves time to craft a great application, resolve unforeseen problems (a lost transcript, a delinquent recommender) and submit with time to spare.

How to Choose the Right Graduate School Program (Next Scientist) 

How to Make a Strong Graduate School Application
Every graduate program is different, sometimes radically so, and much of the burden is on the applicant to figure out the weight of different parts and how best to approach them. That said, there is some good general advice to be given.

How to Successfully Work Across Countries, Languages, and Culture (HBR) 

GradHacker Articles

How to Prepare for a Skype Interview 

IEEE Spectrum: How to Choose a Graduate School

Science Magazine Career Articles

Nature Career Articles & Toolkit

Tips for Applying to Graduate School – Cornell Physics

4 Differences Between Graduate & Undergraduate STEM Programs

5 Keys to Choosing an Engineering Masters Program (

Life During Graduate School

PhD Comics

  • Seriously, bookmark this site.  You need a sense of humor to make it through grad school!

Health in Graduate School 

Stress and Support Networks

Time Management and Organization 

Tips and Advice

Work-life Balance

Writing Advice 

Life After Graduate School

See also Career Resources for Science & Engineering Students 

Science: Career Resources 

From How-To Series to booklets and multimedia, Science provides a wide range of career resources for science & engineering students.

5 Ways International Students Can Transition to Industry Careers in the U.S. (Cheeky Scientist)

5 Visa Options International Students Must Know to Work in the U.S. (Cheeky Scientist) 

10 Simple Rules for Choosing Between Industry and Academia (Plos) 

From Academia to Industry: A Short Guide (Nature Jobs Blog)

Global Mobility: Science on the Move (Nature) 

Jobs are Scarce for PhDs (The Atlantic) 

So Many Research Scientists, So Few Openings as Professors (NY Times) 

The Job Market: Picking Apart Your Application 

The Post-Doc Series (NatureJobs Blog) 

Too Many PhD Graduates or Too Few Academic Job Openings? (Systems Research and Behavioral Science) 

Why It’s Better to be a Research Scientist in Industry than Academia (Cheeky Scientist) 

Print Friendly