Tips on how to apply for a masters degree and secure your place (PART 1)


Returning to academia...

A masters degree is a big deal and a serious financial decision so it needs a lot of thought before you begin the application process and you need to be able to answer the following questions before reading the rest of this post.
  1. Why do you want to study a masters?
  2. Do you need it for your career? Is it essential for your career progression or can this be gained by experience? 
  3. Is this subject one that you are going to enjoy alot? 
  4. Do you have the funds to support yourself, fully, without stress, over the course of the year?
  5. What do you want to do after finishing a masters? Do you want to do a PhD? (you don't have to immediately answer this question as the master's course can help you focus that later)
Okay, let's get started with the application process...

Searching for courses and searching for universities:

The world is full of masters degrees so have a look around and see if you would like to study in other countries, or stay within the UK (or your home country). 

If you know which course you'd like to do then great! Start looking at universities! 
If you don't, then I suggest you open the university masters courses page (a full list of their courses- see UCL's) and go through and read the descriptions of the courses and the modules and see which one you like and will enjoy the most. 

I wanted to study a science communication course in London, but with there being only one university that has this specific course (Imperial College London) I had to have a good look for other courses to apply to at the same time, to open my options and see if there is something else which will suit me. 

I applied to the Science, technology and society course at UCL and History and Philosophy of medicine course at Kings College London (since changed to Philosophy of medicine and psychiatry). 
There is also a Science communication and society course at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

According to your location and where you want to study, have a read through reviews of the university (a quick google search will bring it up) and see if it is the place you want to study at. 

ALSO, GO TO AS MANY OPEN DAYS AS POSSIBLE - YOU NEVER KNOW WHICH UNIVERSITY WILL SURPRISE YOU! Open days really do give you a good feel of the university and you get to meet lecturers on your chosen course and ask detailed questions about it. You can also email specific lecturers after the open day to discuss specific modules on the course and get a better understanding of what the acedemic year will look like. 

Time to actually apply!

Write your personal statement: your personal statement should prove why you want to study a masters degree, why this course specifically and why you will be the perfect candidate for this course. Many universities provide guidelines for how they want the personal statement to be structured such as this one from UCL (which I used to apply for my course - each university should have some guidance to help you through the personal process). Advertise yourself, because no one will do it for you. 

Make sure you also have two trusted referees who will put in a nice letter recommending you to the university, don't be shy to POLITELY follow up with them to ensure you don't miss any deadlines during the application process. They can be two previous lecturers from your bachelors degree or from your previous employment. 

Some courses may ask for a test of some sort which you will need to submit along with your personal statement. For example, a writing test which has a specific word limit. Before starting, search online for examples which you can use for inspiration. Use it for guidance only, DO NOT plagiarise! 

Complete the application, and if there's anything difficult, email the admissions tutor for the course, they will gladly help! 

What's next? Wait for the offers to come in (hopefully)! 
Once you receive your offer, think about it and accept your offer within the allocated time frame (usually about 6 weeks) and politely decline any others. IF something comes up, make sure you email the admissions tutor to let them know and see if you will need to defer your place for the next academic year (check that your course will allow this first!).

That's it your place is secure! Congratulations! You will be starting your master's degree in the next academic year! Look for the academic year facebook group for the postgraduates going into the university of your choice, you may find others studying your course and also help in finding accommodation close to the university.

I hope these tips help you get into the graduate school of your choice and if you also have any other tips I may have missed out, let me know in the comments below! :)

The next post in this series will be tips on how to study on your masters course and following that will be a post on how to present a presentation without melting into a nervous breakdown! 🤣










Comments