grad school Graduate Admissions Insider Tips Top Tips

New Health-Related Grad School Programs

Many potential graduate school applicants have embraced the idea of applying to brand new graduate school programs at top schools across the country, as we’ve heard from many interested in some of the new graduate programs we posted about recently.

Inquiries for health-related graduate school admissions guidance are flowing in and we are here for you. You’re observing (and living through) COVID’s impact on our world and you want to study it deeper, you want to help, and you want to work on solutions. We commend you!

As Forbes recently reported, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced the establishment of an $80 million Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (PHIT Workforce Program) to boost U.S. public health informatics and data science. That’s a lot of money and people to train, but it’s a worthy and needed effort given our world today. 

Many top universities have responded to this COVID-era call to action with the creation of some new medical-related graduate school programs. If you’re considering graduate school, check out these brand new grad programs that we think are worth a closer look.

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1.) New York University’s M.S. in Clinical Research Nursing

As NYU notes, the new master’s program will prepare nurses to administer research interventions, evaluate patients’ responses to novel therapies and integrate evidence-based practice into nursing practice, and evaluate patient outcomes. Students will also learn about research project management, including patient recruitment and retention, as well as finances. Key word in that degree title: research. It’s a pretty great place to research too since you’ll have access to NYU Langone Health, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and more. The program can be done in 1-year full time or 2 years part time and they even have an early action round in admissions.

2.) University of California, Los Angeles’ Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Housed at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, this new graduate degree has launched as an online program to “meet the growing need for health care management specialists by developing students’ skills in finance, strategic marketing, quantitative problem solving and analytics.” Their first class starts this summer.

3.) University of Texas-Houston’s Doctor of Nursing Program

This program is a practice doctorate that will prepare family nurse practitioners (FNP) and nurse executives to “address the shortages of primary care providers, nursing educators and leaders in a complex health care environment.” It’s a part-time post-Masters doctoral degree program in nursing with 37-42 semester credit hours beyond the Master’s degree in nursing. 

4.) Purdue University’s Online Master of Health Administration

This program is short, flexible and asynchronous. It is designed to help you get a Masters while you work, and it’s a 40-credit hour program with 15-20 hours of work experience needed per week. The program has a focus on health administration-related skills, methods and tools to ensure cost-effective quality care and patient safety.

5.) Yale School of Public Health’s Online Executive Master’s in Public Health (MPH)

This two-year program is online, with the exception of 3 five-day in-person intensives led by the Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative. There are four specializations to choose from (up to two): health informatics, environmental health sciences, applied analytical methods and epidemiology.


Public health needs are growing, the need for nurses and doctors is increasingly pressing and top colleges and universities are taking note. Recent data indicate that by the start of 2022, there will be more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession, at more than 100,000 per year. That’s more than computer science, more than data analytics, more than business and entrepreneurship, however flashy to graduate school applicants those fields may be.

Financial aid, merit fellowships and federal grants are on an upswing to help cover those who may be on the fence about applying.  For example, the $10,000 Winston Health Policy Fellowship. Did you know we can help with the personal statement needed for that application too? There’s a global push for more healthcare workers and healthcare training –we’d love to help you pick your graduate school program and plan your next steps!

grad school Graduate Admissions

5 New & Innovative Grad School Programs

Summer is approaching and the tumultuous wave of 2021 graduate school admissions has finally unfolded. The year+ of COVID brought graduate school applicants out in droves. More students than ever before, in a wide variety of fields, decided fall 2020 was THE time to apply to graduate school, change their career pathway, seize the day when GREs were not required, and use extra time at home to perfect their personal statements.


As Inside Higher Ed noted last month, when the economy is down, graduate school applications are up. It’s not just the Fauci effect either. Graduate school applications were up this year for medical school and psychology fields, yes–but also for law school, business, economics and even history and philosophy. For example, Inside Higher Ed noted Washington University in St. Louis’ PhD in Philosophy program received 45% more applications this year (compared to last year) and Northwestern University’s PhD in Economics program received 17% more applications.

Some top universities with massive endowments panicked, a case in point when Princeton’s PhD in Sociology shut down admissions and decided they would not accept a single applicant for 2021 admissions. Or when UNC Chapel Hill’s History PhD program made the same decision. There are no new students in those departments to start this August, not one.

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The programs that DID accept applicants were even more flooded, and in subsequent years in admissions (meaning admissions this fall 2021 for an August 2022 start) applicant numbers will climb even higher.


As a 2021 grad school applicant, how do you turn it around? How do you gain acceptance into a top university?

Look for the innovative programs that are building up and not pausing or tearing down.


Check out these recently launched grad school programs and join one of their first cohorts of students: 

  1. Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences just launched a new PhD Program in Quantum Science and Engineering.
    1. It’s a unique cross between physics, chemistry, engineering and computer science that sounds innovative for sure.
    2. Since education is my forte, what I love most about this is that part of this initiative is this PhD program’s involvement in the Harvard University Center for Integrated Quantum Materials (CIQM) (a product of an NSF and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) partnership). They’re working to develop curricula for K-12 students to learn more about the field of quantum information science. 
  2. USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism launched a new online Master’s Program in Digital Media Management.
    1. USC is smart to launch this program now–as they note: the digital media field is set to have $414 billion in global revenue growth by 2025. Might be worth checking this one out –that’s an awful lot of growth in under 4 years.
  3. The University of Michigan’s School of Medicine launched an online Master of Science degree program in Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems.
    1. This is one to really take note of as there are part time and full time options and their application deadline (U.S. applicants only) is June 1st, meaning if you apply this month you could start in this program in 3 months and wrap it in 12 months total. Learn more about their Rackham funding options here. Talk about a swift and innovative career change!
  4. The University of California at Riverside just launched a new Master of Science program in Business Analytics.
    1. They’re unique in that it’s a STEM program offered jointly by their Graduate School of Management and Department of Statistics in the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. Students can concentrate on one of three tracks –finance analytics, marketing analytics or operations analytics and it’s a nine-month program when done full time.
  5. The University of Wisconsin-Madison just launched the first ever accredited Master of Science degree program in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation within their School of Pharmacy.
    1. It can be completed in an online or hybrid setup in 1-3 years and will begin this fall 2021. The program (with a focus on science, history, ethical and legal aspects) aims to explore new treatments for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and addiction. If this isn’t a well-timed launch of a strong research-focused graduate degree program, I don’t know what is.


Explore the links above and register to attend an online information session (#3 UMichigan has one 5/20 here) with their graduate admissions offices. You’ll benefit from hearing from their faculty, admissions officers and current students as you assess your plans for graduate school, your career aims and your next steps. Seeking more ideas on new graduate programs in your field of interest? We can help!

grad school Graduate Admissions Stanford Top Tips

Stanford Law School Admissions: What To Know

Post by: Dr. Kristen Willmott

November 2020 is a busy month for LSAT test takers and there are four LSAT flex online options: November 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th. If you’re taking the LSAT, be sure you utilize LSAC’s free LSAT prep package and read up on the complexities of the new online LSAT flex.

Many students are at the tail end of their law school admissions pathway and they’re now wrapping up their personal statement and sitting for the LSAT, and then their applications are off and running.

One of the most popular law schools to target this fall?… Stanford Law of course! Read on for key data and frequently asked questions on Stanford Law School (SLS).


How can I research key data on Stanford Law? Where do I look?

It’s common for applicants to skip reviewing the current student profile before they apply and yet it’s so important! We walk our students through it, of course, but here’s Stanford’s info (not always easy to find –the direct link is here):

2019 First Year Class, 2018-2019 (most recent data they’ve posted) =

  • 3,908 completed applications and 380 offers of admission, so that’s a 9.72% acceptance rate.
  • 157 enrolled, which means 223 turned Stanford down, so that’s a 4.02% enrollment rate.
  • 23 other first year enrollees (aka deferrals), so 180 were in the class
  • LSAT Percentiles: 25th percentile 169; 50th percentile 171; 75th percentile 174
  • Undergrad GPA: 25th percentile 3.79; 50th percentile 3.91; 75th percentile 3.96 (meaning SKY HIGH!)

What programs does Stanford Law offer? Is a JD the only degree program I can consider? 

Many applicants are unaware that SLS offers several different programs, the JD is not the only SLS option. We’ve worked with many international students where SLS’ advanced degree options are appealing. They have the Master of Laws LLM program, Master of the Science of Law JSM degree (via the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies), the Master of Legal Studies degree, and the Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) degree.

What are the components of the SLS application, and are they weighted differently?

The 10 pieces of the SLS JD app are outlined here. Note that you’ve got some hefty writing to do for items 3, 4, 5 and 6 (let us help!). It’s interesting that the last two they mention, the LSAT and transcripts to date (submitted as part of the needed Credential Assembly Service Report —via LSAC) are the last two stated in the list of ten, though those carry a great amount of weight in an admissions review. SLS is seeking unique students who have broken the mold in what they’ve pursued and accomplished before the time of their application and who therefore will continue to be changemakers on campus and post-degree. The quantitative data (LSAT, GPA) allows for a round 1 initial slice of thousands of applicants, but an applicant’s story, diverse background, relevant and rigorous work experiences, massive community impact and evidence of leadership to date push him into the pool.

What makes a Stanford Law School applicant stand out in a good way? What about in a bad way?

Hopefully, the above addresses ways to stand out in a good way. A mistake that law school applicants can make is thinking that when a program states something in the application is optional, it’s really optional. It’s not; it’s unofficially strongly urged. I often work with students who believe something like Stanford’s (and many other schools’) “optional diversity essay” is something they can or should skip. They might feel they are not diverse, that they don’t belong to a unique community, etc.  I try to gently urge applicants to think more deeply on this prompt. The prompt interprets the word ‘diversity’ very broadly, so the applicant should as well.

Everyone is DiVeRsE in some way —if you feel you’re not diverse at all and you have nothing unique to bring them, why are you applying to SLS?… When I have a student tell me he’s not diverse, I urge him to try to expand his definition of diversity and reflect on the following list –and THAT allows for this “optional” essay to be prepared/submitted and hopefully stand out:

Diversity factors for students to consider writing about include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Ethnic minority
  • Low-income childhood
  • Low-income now
  • First generation in your family to graduate from college
  • LGBTQX community
  • Non-traditional student (i.e., older student)
  • Single parent while attending college
  • Disabilities (learning, physical, mental)
  • Underrepresented religious affiliation
  • Immigrant
  • Foster child
  • Grew up in an unusual neighborhood, town/city, or country
  • Grew up with unique circumstances that are underrepresented in the school’s student body 

How can an applicant ‘overcome’ things like poor test scores or a lack of career experience? 

The best ways to combat a low LSAT are to prep and tutor more and retake it, allow yourself more time to apply, bump out your timeline, etc. However, the LSAT is not the only factor in SLS admissions. A lack of career experience or massive resume gaps can also be red flags as the goal is to show the admissions office you are deeply committed to your work/academics, likely to succeed in the program and post degree. They already believe, as does every top law school, that they have a fantastic program with unparalleled academic offerings, internationally renowned faculty, etc. They want to know what you will bring to THEM and how that makes you stand out from the pack. Perhaps that’s added grad level coursework, conference presentations, publications, nonprofit work that links to your professional background, etc. We’ve also worked with past students who struggled a bit in college but then had stellar professional experiences post degree and now want a way to first, be certain that they want to commit to three years of law school and a law career, and secondly, offer evidence on a transcript that shows they are fully capable of getting A grades.

One thing that accomplishes both, for example, is a graduate level credit-bearing course in your preferred field of study —not necessarily with the hopes of transferring those 4 credits into law school when you matriculate (as it’s unlikely), but to ensure you want a law school pathway, and ensure you show transcript evidence that A grades are in your wheelhouse.

Here’s one to show what I mean: Harvard Extension School online course for 4 graduate level credits called International Human Rights Law. Starts 1-27-21.  I’ve also had past students tell me that an Intro to Logic course (in college or a post college grad level one like the one linked here, at the Harvard Extension School) for credit has been a boost to their law school admissions application process, since it links to the logic that is actually needed in year one of law school as well as the logic questions on the LSAT, and also the framing of the law school app overall.

How can I become a ‘standout applicant’ from the pack at Stanford Law?

We’ve had past students: publish research papers or old finals papers in journals (such as Yale’s Undergraduate Journal of Economics and Politics), dive into an artificial intelligence research internship that links to patent law, climb the career ladder at an international startup focused on international women business owners, teach virtual coding classes to middle schoolers, work in DC as a policy analyst, and obtain a full time job as law office administrative assistant.

The trick is to authentically present as a compelling applicant with a unique story and insightful evidence of success in the program –and post degree as well as ideally as an active alum.


Looking for more personalized ideas on ways to you can stand out in your law school applications and essays?  We’d love to propose targeted ideas for you! Let’s chat.

Graduate Admissions MIT

MIT Sloan Flips to Test Optional

Post by: Dr. Kristen Willmott

We are working with our grad school applicants who are putting the final touches on their applications, as well as new applicants who are seizing the day and applying to graduate school in this unprecedented time, or as we’ve called it, the best year in history to apply to graduate school.

Some schools have made it easier to apply to graduate school as they’ve lightened up their rules on course, test, application fee, and deadline requirements. Others are not making it easier to apply, they’re just calling it quits on fall 2020 admissions in the midst of COVID-19, and these are not poor universities. For example, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education is not accepting ANY doctoral applications this fall, Master’s applicants only. UPenn did the same for their PhD admissions in the School of Arts and Sciences (except for their Chemistry PhD applicants); the rest of their departments are going to focus on serving/teaching/paying their current graduate students, not new ones.

In June, UVA Darden announced they were going test optional and here we are at two weeks from MIT Sloan’s round 1 MBA deadline and they just stated they’re GMAT/GRE optional. This decision is late in the game and it’s tough for applicants to interpret when they put this on their admissions page:

“In view of challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, we will allow candidates for the 2020-21 admission cycle to submit their application without the test and review their submitted material as is and without negative inferences . . . Additionally, applicants are welcome to submit other pieces of evidence, such as expired test scores (GMAT, GRE, EA, etc.); MITx MicroMasters, CORe, edX, MBAMath, or any other non-degree coursework completed; or certifications earned such as CPA, ACCA, CFA, etc.; all of which may assist the Admissions Committee in its evaluation process . . . If you have a valid or expired test score, please include that as part of your application.”


Well, which is it, MIT?…

Here’s one possible translation: While we went test optional for round 3 in spring 2020, we expected to be test-required this fall, but waited all the way until September to finally announce it. And –if you have any scores whatsoever, even an expired score from over a decade ago, we’ll take it. And, we’ll also tell you the following about our Class of 2021 right on our admissions FAQ site: average GMAT 727, GMAT middle 80% range 690-760, GRE middle 80% quant range 156-168, GRE middle 80% verbal range 156-169. But, just ignore that if you have nothing; zero scores are okay by us. (Unless you want to get admitted. Then, maybe think about getting some scores.)


So, you could see where an applicant might be perplexed on what to do and what is actually needed. Because it’s not really about what you need to just pay an application fee and apply, it’s about what you need to get IN.

Compound the above with the fact that the online GMAT registration fee just went up 25% as of September 23 (and there’s a hefty $100 cancellation fee or $150 reschedule fee if within 2 weeks –at some but not all locations), and you might not be too pumped to sit for the GMAT right now. So maybe test optional IS your friend this fall. Do a review, however, of your undergraduate transcript to make sure it can stand on its own.

Then again, you might not be too psyched about MIT Sloan’s tuition and fees this year: $77,168 in tuition and $120,846 total according to this 2020-2021 MIT Sloan MBA Tuition and Expenses summary.

The good news is that top programs are being lenient with test requirements and score deadlines, and while MIT’s round 1 MBA deadline is coming up fast on October 1st, there is still time to apply –and you could even target their round 2 deadline of Jan. 19, 2021 or round 3 deadline of April 12, 2021 (though round 3 is a bit later than we’d advise applying), in which case you have much more time.


Some programs are lowering their tuitions; and some excellent online programs are being mindful of COVID-19’s impact on your financial picture.

For example, Williams College offers a one year Master’s in Policy Economics (apps are due Dec 1) for students with an interest in future positions in treasuries, central banks and government, and they made the news this summer with tuition cuts of 15% to benefit students and their families.

Even less expensive and more forgiving with application requirements is an online graduate admissions pathway. The University of Illinois’ round 1 online MBA application deadline (for spring 2021 admissions) was Sept. 15 and round 2 is due Oct 15. You need a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply, and they’re test optional, online and $22,000 for the program. Their applications are up 35% this year; students are taking note of the key benefits of top online MBAs, especially when many top MBA programs are already online right now anyway. Boston University and Wake Forest have also debuted new, popular online MBA programs in a less-is-more, we’re prepped for virtual anyway kind of way.

Whether you’re seeking to study next to the Charles River at MIT or from your home office as part of Rice University’s online MBA program (and you can bet that Rice wants you to apply since they waived their $200 app fee until Oct. 9), we are here to help you with your resume, grad school essays, applications, and more. Let’s talk.

grad school Graduate Admissions Top Tips

Grad School Game Plan

Post by: Dr. Kristen Willmott

I know many of you are using this summer to prep your fall graduate school applications, and I’m here to offer some tips and tricks on where to begin, AKA sort your grad school game plan and sort yourself.

Creating your grad school admissions tracking file is key. Guidance on how to create a ‘grad school admissions tracking file’ is included in our graduate school admissions consulting programs, but if you’re seeking insider tips on how you can craft, refine, sort, manage, and assess your plan, I’ve got those right here!

Having this information in one spot will save you TONS of time and heartache across the graduate school admissions process from start to acceptance.

Items to include:

  • Top 3 reasons you’re targeting the program
  • Top 3 reasons the program is a good fit for you
  • Ranking of programs in order of your preference
  • Ranking of programs in order of your acceptance odds (based on the school’s admit stats from the previous year)
  • Your campus (or virtual) visit notes including notes on program offerings, faculty, students, campus, location, research, other opportunities, career tracks of recent graduates, etc.
  • Admissions stats from previous admitted classes including testing and GPA averages
  • Transcripts requested and sent
  • Test scores requested and sent
  • Letters of recommendation –who, when asked, how, date requested, date needed, preferred “fed topics” to be discussed, etc.
  • Essay topics, word limits, content focus, layout, submission process required by the admissions website, etc.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae, often different versions depending on program and school
  • Writing samples
  • Interview notes
  • Campus contacts and alumni connections, including names, dates, and contact info
  • Communications tracker with anyone you know who has an affiliation with the school
  • Deadlines, ideal time to submit, actual dates of submission confirmations received, etc.


The item that many struggle with is the “reasons the program is a perfect fit for YOU.” I am often asked where to begin when it comes to researching programs (and how to best ensure it fits with your career goals), and that can be tricky.  I’ve had several calls in recent weeks from students who are toying with law school OR a Master’s degree; an MBA OR an M.S. in Entrepreneurship, etc. It used to be that you couldn’t really gain intel on a program or faculty until you were on site, but now you have the ability to take a class online with faculty from the department you aim to gain entry into, before you’re even there.

  • For example, let’s say you’re drawn to the field of genetics, not necessarily because you want to head to medical school, but because lab work is your thing and you’re looking at the University of Michigan’s M.S. program in Human Genetics.
    • As their site notes, “Human Genetics interfaces with multiple research and clinical disciplines, with new opportunities for those with advanced training in basic science, clinical diagnostics and industry.”
    • But, you’re on the fence, you’re not sure if you’ll like UMichigan; you’re not sure if you’ll like their method of teaching or the content –or the faculty. These are all things you need to know if you’re trying to create a file in which you’ll pinpoint the ‘top 3 reasons the program is a fit for you.’
    • SO —you could consider registering for the noncredit online EdX course (via UMichigan) called Anatomy: Human Neuroanatomy this summer. Then, you get a free intro to the content and to the method of teaching from their faculty.
    • It’s free to enroll in this class and $49 for the optional course certificate. Nothing to lose (other than the time taking it, of course) and everything to gain (as it’s a great resume entry too).


See if this kind of a grad school game plan offers you added intel into a program and the extent to which it’s a great match for you. Then, add the university to your list of targeted schools. Perhaps the added information you glean from the course puts that university even higher up in your grad school admissions tracking file.

If you’d like personalized advice for your graduate school process Top Tier Admissions is here for you.

Let me help!