Step 3: Narrowing your choices

Once you have created your list of universities that match your personal preferences, you can start narrowing down to the ones to which you will apply. We recommend you apply to three to six graduate programs.

To maximize your chances of admission, consider applying to universities in the following categories:


  • One highly competitive program (reach schools).
  • One to three that match your academic profile (match schools).
  • One or two schools where your academic profile is safely higher than their average (safe schools).


If you are limited by your budget and require university funding, consider applying to more safe schools than recommended above. If your academic profile is higher than the school’s average, you will be a very competitive applicant and will stand a greater chance of gaining merit-based scholarships, if available.