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A Guide to Graduate Admissions At SMU

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Applying to a Graduate Program at SMU

The Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies is proud to offer doctoral and master’s degrees in a wide variety of fields. SMU graduate programs are offered across four different colleges and schools: the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Lyle School of Engineering, the Meadows School of the Arts, and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. These programs help our students to pursue their passions and make significant contributions in both academia and industry.

The following guide is designed to give you an overview of the admissions requirements and processes for our Master’s and Doctoral programs, including what grad school admissions look for and how to organize your grad school application. Once you have narrowed down your programs of interest, we recommend that you visit their websites to learn more about their particular admissions requirements and your specific graduate program eligibility. You are also welcome to contact your program’s school or college for additional assistance.

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Admission Requirements

Applying to Grad School:
General Graduate Admissions Requirements

Online Application

All applicants applying to a graduate program at SMU to any program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, or Simmons School of Education and Human Development must complete the online application: smu.edu/gradapp.

The application fee is $75.



Applicants must provide transcripts from each school of higher education attended, whether a degree was earned or not. For those applying to Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering, or Meadows School of the Arts programs, unofficial transcripts can be uploaded to the application for admissions purposes.

Simmons School of Education and Human Development requires official transcripts for all schools where the applicant has earned at least 9 credits to complete an application. All admitted applicants who decide to enroll at SMU will need to provide official transcripts before registering for courses. Official transcripts can be submitted electronically or in hard copy. When sending an electronic transcript, please note that SMU will only accept electronic transcripts sent from the transferable institution via a secure means (e.g., Scrip-Safe, NSC).

We will not accept official electronic transcripts sent by students. Institutions can send electronic transcripts to gradappmaterials@smu.edu.

Hard copy transcripts must be sealed and sent by the applicant’s institution to the following address:

SMU Graduate Application Processing
P.O. Box 518
Dallas, TX 75275-0518

International Applicants

Our campus has significant representation from international students, and we welcome applicants from all over the world to join us at SMU. Students who provide diverse perspectives and backgrounds are invaluable in graduate education and make our research and work stronger.

Like many other institutions in the United States, we do ask international applicants to provide additional items as part of their application. For more information about what you need to prepare, please check with your program’s school or college to learn more.

International Applicant Requirements by School

Transcript Evaluations

Meadows School of the Arts and Simmons School of Education and Human Development require transcript evaluations for international applicants. All foreign transcripts must be accompanied by a professional evaluation and an official transcript, including an English translation if it is not in English, and course descriptions or syllabi.

It is the student's responsibility to procure this evaluation and to assume financial responsibility for it. Because of the importance of this information, SMU only accepts evaluations from the following agencies of proven reliability:

World Education Services, Inc.
PO Box 745 Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113-0745
Telephone: 212-966-6311
TOLL FREE: 1-800-937-3895
E-mail: info@wes.org 

International Academic Credential Evaluators, Inc.
PO Box 2585
Denton, TX 76202-2585
Telephone: 940-383-7498

Josef Silny & Associates, Inc.
7101 SW 102 Avenue
Miami, FL 33173
Telephone: 305-273-1616
Fax: 305-273-1338
E-mail: info@jsilny.com 

International Education Evaluations
7900 Matthews-Mint Hill Rd., Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28227
Telephone: 704-772-0109

SpanTran: The Evaluation Company
2400 Augusta Drive, Suite 451
Houston, TX 77057
Telephone: 713-266-8805
Email: status@spantran.com
SMU Custom SpanTran Form for Graduate Applicants

The above services' evaluations should include an explanation that the institution is recognized by the ministry of education in the home country and is generally considered to offer at least the equivalent of U.S. higher education credit. In addition, it should include an explanation of the credits, the grading system and course levels, as well as a course-by-course evaluation.

The expertise and reliability of a professional evaluation report is recognized worldwide and is likely to be accepted by other academic institutions, employers and state licensing boards. However, the report is not binding to SMU and it will be considered a recommendation for SMU's independent decision of the credit to be given. Information and applications from the agencies are available online.


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For more tips to acing English proficiency tests, exclusive instructions for Visa application, and a detailed look at available funding, check out the International Applicant’s Guide to a Ph.D.

English Language Proficiency: TOEFL or IELTS

Applicants who do not speak English as their native language or who have earned a degree from a foreign institution must supply scores on the TOEFL English Language Proficiency Exam or the IELTS English Competency Test.

In general, the minimum TOEFL score for admission is 80; the Simmons School of Education and Human Development requires a minimum score of 83. The minimum IELTS score is 6.5. Individual programs may require a higher score. Please check your program’s website to verify.

Some applicants may be eligible for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver if:

  • Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences: students have received an undergraduate degree from an English-language institution located in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. 

  • Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, and Simmons School of Education and Human Development: students have received a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an English-language institution located in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.

Download our Guide to Getting Your PhD as an International Student

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Access the guide at any point by saving it to your laptop to reference while you navigate applying to graduate school. 


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Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

All applicants must have adequate subject preparation in the chosen major field.  This includes having at least 12 semester hours of advanced study in the chosen field, a 3.0 overall grade-point average, and a satisfactory score on the GRE*. All programs also require a resume and 3 letters of recommendation from professors or employers who can speak to an applicant’s work ethic, experience in the field, and/or academic success.

* Please see updated GRE Requirements for Dedman College  Applications

Students applying to certain Dedman programs may need to include additional information with their application:

  • Psychology: The Statement of Purpose should include the names of 1-2 faculty members with whom the student would like to work.

  • Religious Studies: Applicants need to identify a field of interest: Old Testament, Religion and Culture, Systematic Theology, Religious Ethics, New Testament, or Christian Tradition. Applicants must also provide a writing sample of 10-20 pages of scholarly writing.

  • English: The English Ph.D. requires a writing sample consisting of 15 or more pages on a literary topic.

  • History: The Ph.D. program requires an essay, chapter, or some other substantial piece of historical writing.

  • Statistical Science: International applicants applying to the MASDA or PhD program are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores and must complete a video essay as part of their application.

  • International applicants who score below a 23 on the speaking component of the TOEFL must complete a video essay as part of their application.

Read More: Explore the graduate school application requirements for your specific program of interest. Visit our Ph.D. program listing for more details.

Lyle School of Engineering

All Lyle School of Engineering master’s or doctoral applicants must have adequate subject preparation in their chosen major field. This includes having an undergraduate or graduate degree in engineering or a closely related technical field, a GPA of 3.0 or higher on all undergraduate or graduate coursework.

Applicants are required to submit the following documents:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Application Fee
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Letters of Recommendation are optional for MS/MA programs
    • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation are required for all doctoral level students
    • Applicants applying for the Design and Innovation program, please review the MADI specific application instructions.

The GRE is required only in the following situations:

  • For Master’s-level applicants applying to one of the following degree areas: Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Engineering Entrepreneurship, Information Engineering Management, Mechanical Engineering, Operations Research

  • For Master's-level applicants applying for Software Engineering or Cybersecurity Engineering that do not have at least one year of relevant work experience

  • For all Doctoral-level applicants, including D.E. and Ph.D. applicants

International Students

Students who are requesting a student visa from the Lyle School of Engineering are considered international students. International students are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores to be considered for admission. Conditional admission may be offered to international students who do not meet the English language requirement. Please note, in order to receive conditional admission, a student must meet or exceed the academic admissions requirements and must submit either TOEFL or IELTS score results. Students who do not submit TOEFL or IELTS scores will not be considered for conditional admission. Students who are offered conditional admission must complete the Intensive English Program before enrolling in Lyle graduate courses.

Meadows School of the Arts

Graduate admissions procedures for the Meadows School of the Arts vary by program. Click the button below to learn more from your area of interest.

Simmons School of Education and Human Development

The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development offers Doctoral and Master's degrees, graduate-level certifications, undergraduate programs, and enrichment courses and includes research institutes and community service centers.

Admission information, application forms, and curricula for these programs can be found on their respective websites. For more information about Simmons' programs, please click the button below.

Professional Graduate Programs

SMU has four additional schools with professional programs designed to prepare students for success in their respective fields. Each of the following manages their own in-house admissions process and has its own set of requirements. Read below to learn more about what they have to offer and how to connect with them directly.

Cox School of Business


Cox School of Business

Situated on a tree-lined campus that’s just minutes from the beating heart of Dallas, SMU Cox is a powerful ally for your future. Long regarded as a top U.S. business school, the Cox School of Business is growing in international stature. You’ll kindle relationships through dozens of student clubs, speaker series, and mentoring programs — all designed to connect you with the best business minds around the globe.

As part of the Cox community, you can count on savvy professional advice, networking opportunities and social connections that open doors around the world. As soon as you earn your business degree, you automatically become a lifetime member of the dues-free SMU Cox Alumni Association, a network that spans more than 80 countries. The Economist magazine ranks Cox No. 1 in the United States and No. 28 in the world for networking potential.

Dedman School of Law


Dedman School of Law

As the first law school in Dallas, we are fortunate to be in a city with a thriving economy, many corporate headquarters, and an outstanding legal community. SMU Dedman School of Law continues to strive to develop the next century of leaders. The SMU Law faculty is recognized throughout the region, nation, and even internationally for its contributions to the law. Prominent alumni SMU law graduates include Texas Supreme Court justices, members of the U.S. Congress, an ambassador, a governor, foreign ministers and members of the highest courts worldwide, as well as partners at leading law firms and general counsels at major corporations.

We pride ourselves on a student body that is as rich and diverse as the courses it studies – one that brings their unique perspectives to the classroom. We invite you to learn more about becoming part of the distinguished group of individuals who have obtained a law degree from the SMU Dedman School of Law.

Perkins School of Theology


Perkins School of Theology

Perkins School of Theology is one of the 13 seminaries of The United Methodist Church and one of only five university-related United Methodist theological schools that offer Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Ministry, Divinity, Sacred and Pastoral Music, and Theology. Whether your vocation is as pastor, educator, musician, youth leader, missionary, scholar, or committed layperson, the faculty and staff of Perkins will work with you to gather the resources—spiritual, intellectual and financial—that will enable you to answer your special calling.

You will have the opportunity to learn from a faculty of world-renowned theologians and scholars while growing in both practical experience and spiritual depth. We offer a balanced curriculum with an emphasis on hands-on learning that will equip you to minister and lead the church of the 21st century. Whether you wish to take classes on our main campus at SMU in Dallas or at our extension site in Houston/Galveston, we encourage you to learn more about Perkins.

SMU Guildhall


SMU Guildhall

Recognized as one of the best graduate schools for game design, SMU Guildhall works collaboratively across disciplines and industries to train the next generation of game developers. Established in 2003, we were the first in the world to offer a master's degree in interactive technology and are the only program with specializations in all four cornerstones of game development: Art, Design, Production, and Programming.  

SMU Guildhall blends first-class education with a project based curriculum to give you the experience to break into the exciting video game industry. Apply to SMU Guildhall today to join our elite ranks. We'll equip you with a master's video game design degree or professional certificate and the skills you need to succeed as an artist, designer, producer or programmer.

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All programs in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, and Simmons School of Education and Human Development require an online application.

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Formal communications will be done by email. It is important to check your status page periodically. The status page provides application processing updates, including information on the receipt of test scores and letters of recommendation and acknowledgment when an application has been completed (whether before or after the deadline). 

After submission, students can log in at any time to check the status of their application. Applicants may apply to multiple programs in one term. Each application will have its own page with a checklist to help you manage your documents. It is important to pay attention. In many cases, applicants may not realize that their test scores were never received by SMU or that their recommender did not submit their letter, and their application is not completed by the deadline.

Your application status page is also where you will go to view your decision letter for your application. It will appear as an update. Click on the “View Update” link to view your letter. In the event that you are admitted, you will also see a link to reply to your offer of admission. We strongly encourage you to use this link to accept or decline your offer. This ensures that your program will save you a spot for you and provides the program with the most accurate information about its incoming class.

When are grad school applications due?

It’s important to know the deadline for your program. Most programs are making funding considerations based on that timeline, and you’ll have the best chance if all of your items are submitted by that date.

Some programs operate on a priority deadline and a space available deadline. Others have just one deadline. Be sure that you’ve read the application instructions clearly and that you understand what your program requires.

Check your program’s deadlines:


No, you only have to submit one online application through smu.edu/gradapp. When you start your application, you will select the particular program to which you wish to apply. All of your application materials should be uploaded with your application or submitted to the Graduate Application Processing Office.

If the posted deadline has passed but you’re still interested in applying, contact SMU Graduate School to see if there may be space available. Sometimes programs are still willing to review files from promising applicants.

University grants, scholarships, fellowships and assistantships are awarded in the school or department in which the graduate student will enroll. Schools and departments that offer master’s or Ph.D. degrees offer a significant number of tuition scholarships and teaching or research assistantships each year. For more information, students should contact the appropriate school or department.

Applicants who apply by the posted deadline are generally considered for funding opportunities. Doctoral applicants are welcome to submit an additional essay with their application to be considered for the Mustang Fellowship. Admitted candidates are notified of their awards soon after they receive their decision letter by the program.

  • Grants and loans for Texas residents, private and federal loans, and employment programs may be available by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA may be completed online at www.fafsa.gov. Those who do not want to provide a FAFSA can submit a waiver.

  • Learn more about the FAFSA and apply. The SMU code is 003613. FAFSA must be filed each year for continued consideration of SMU, federal, and state funding.

  • For questions regarding your financial aid package (state or federal aid), please contact GradFinAid@smu.edu.
For graduate programs in Dedman College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lyle School of Engineering, Meadows School of the Arts, and Simmons School of Education and Human Development, please use ETS school code 6660 for SMU. This code can be used for both GRE, GRE Subject, and TOEFL scores. Our programs do not require that you select program codes to submit your scores.

If you are applying to a program outside of these schools, please contact the admissions office for your specific program of interest to verify the correct school code. 

Be sure that you have selected SMU school code 6660 for ETS (GRE or TOEFL) scores. Those are sent to the Graduate Application Processing Office. Please allow 10-14 days from the date of your score report order confirmation for scores to reach us and be uploaded to your file.

If your test scores are still marked as awaiting, please send a copy of your score order confirmation to gradappmaterials@smu.edu and the Graduate Application Processing Office will try to locate your scores.

Please note, the Graduate Application Processing Office does not process applications over weekends, holidays, or breaks when university offices are generally closed. Please allow our staff 24-48 hours after your application is submitted for your file to be updated.

  • Dedman: Most departments begin reviewing applications after the posted deadline. If you program holds an interview round, then they may not issue decisions until after they have invited candidates to come to campus. In general, most programs try to notify students by early to mid-March, but decision may be received earlier or later than that.

  • Lyle: Master’s-level students can expect an application to be processed within two to three weeks. Doctoral-level students can expect an application to be processed in four to six weeks. All Lyle School of Engineering applicants will be notified via email when an admissions decision has been made.

  • Meadows: Committees meet to evaluate completed applications following the deadline. Some programs will begin sending decisions within 2-3 weeks of a deadline, while others that may have pending audition dates, interviews or call-back dates may have extended release dates. Most programs will have notified their applicants by mid-March with the exception of the final round for Advertising.

The general deadline is April 15 for those who receive offers with funding. We ask, however, that you let your program know as soon as possible. Those admitted without funding may be asked to reply by an earlier date, which should be posted in the decision letter. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact SMU Graduate School or your department.

  • Contact the Graduate Application Processing Office directly by emailing your items to gradappmaterials@smu.edu and they can help you upload them to your file.

If you have hard copy items that need to be attached to your application (i.e., IELTS test scores, official transcripts, transcript evaluations, etc.), please send them directly to the Graduate Application Processing Office:

  • SMU Graduate Application Processing
    P.O. Box 518
    Dallas, TX 75275-0518

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