Before applying to a master's program, you should consider whether this type of degree will be necessary for your career. For example, if you earned a bachelor's degree in English, it's unlikely that you will need a master's degree because there are many career options with your bachelor's degree. For example, if you're interested in creative writing or journalism, you could send your writing to various publishers or find work with your local newspapers. But, if you plan to teach English at community colleges, you will need a master's degree in English since most of them require this.

Get your undergraduate transcript. It's a good idea to ask the undergraduate school's registrar's office to mail your transcript to the graduate school's director at least three weeks before the due date since you'll be busy trying to work on other parts of the application, and you don't want a delay in the reviewing process.

Write and proofread your personal statement. In the personal statement, state specifically what your academic and career goals are, how you would contribute to the program and the reasons why you're choosing that particular school. Also, state some of your most important accomplishments and personal setbacks that motivated you over the years.

Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). This is one of the most important things you'll need to send with the application. You can register to take the exam in your area by going to Educational Testing Service's website at www.ets.org. The company will then send your ticket either by e-mail or by regular mail. When going to the testing center, bring the ticket along with the state ID. When registering, be sure to list the schools you want the scores sent to.