How To Apply For A Master’s

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Whether you’re applying to progress your career, improve employment prospects, or to qualify for a job, the application process for a master’s remains the same. Rather than going through UCAS, individual applications go directly to the university, and therefore don’t cost money, but do require a lot more time and attention than undergraduate applications.

When to apply?

Applications tend to run from September to July. The sooner you apply, the better, though, as admissions teams tend to work through applications as they receive them, and places are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. This way, you also have time to apply for other courses should you not get into the first.

What does the application involve?

Applications will either be through an online portal or a form you send off. You’ll have to fill in the standard information: your details, the course, your previous education and work, etc. You may also have to submit some additional documents that will require more time: a CV, personal statement, portfolio, degree transcript, or references. Any number of these could be required.

How to get a degree transcript?

If you haven’t already graduated, you’ll have to order a partial transcript from your university (for UoL you can request a current student transcript from www.store.leeds.ac.uk that gets delivered to you).

What should I include on my CV?

The CV is relatively standard, in the usual format, including past work and education, interests, skills, etc. You should go into more depth for education, including some specific modules, and how well you did. The whole CV should focus on what is relevant. How does your work experience apply? What extra-curricular activities are relevant? What modules are relevant?

What should be in my personal statement?

Your personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for the subject. Lots of universities include a list of things they want you to include in the application, such as:

  • Why this university and course
  • What you’d bring to the course
  • What past experience has prepared you
  • Your skills and how these will help you
  • Your plans for the future and why this course will help you

Who do I ask to be my referee?

You may also be asked for references. You should choose someone that knows you well; personal tutors or lecturers that you’ve worked with lots. Someone that knows your academic performance and personality. You should contact your referees as early as possible; they are busy too.

What will happen in a master’s interview?

You may be invited for an interview at the university. This is a good sign that they’re considering your application and may be looking to offer you a place. There’s not much to prepare for the interview beyond running through what you’ve said in your application, and your different interests surrounding the course. In the interview, they’ll ask questions about your previous experience, why you chose the course and university, what you hope to get from the course, and where you see yourself in the future. The questions are fairly easy to answer on the spot, without preparation.

Hearing back from the university

After having your interview (or not if they don’t do interviews), you will hear back from the university telling you whether you’ve got a conditional offer, an unconditional offer, or no offer. If you do receive an offer, now is the time to start focusing on achieving the requirements and preparing for your new course, but if not, it still isn’t the end of the world. Now it’s time to look through any other courses that appealed to you and apply to one of those instead, which is where the additional time from applying early will come in handy.

Overall, while a master’s requires more attention than undergraduate applications you may have done previously, they shouldn’t be a source of undue stress; as long as you leave yourself enough time and put in the work, you’ll do fine. There are plenty of resources on university websites and other student advice sites to help with the process, and the admissions office is always willing to answer any questions about applications and requirements.

Maddie St John-Green