Whether you’re applying because you love your subject or because you aren’t quite ready to give up being a student, here is a short guide to applying to a masters programme!
Choosing your course
Picking the right subject is really important as you don’t want to end up stuck doing a course you don’t enjoy! For many people, a masters may be progression into the same subject as your undergraduate degree, or a branch of the subject. Or perhaps you have found a new interest which you would like to pursue. Regardless, do your research and make sure you will enjoy it.
Research or taught? If the subject is new to you, a taught course may be more appropriate. If you want to go into research or are considering a PhD, a research course may prepare you better and give you a taste of whether a research career is for you.
Once you have decided, do lots of research online and talk to current students, if you know any. The university should have lots of information on everything from modules to course fees (but don’t let these put you off)!
If you are keen on a partiuclar course, it may help to visit the university on one of their open days. This also allows you to ask any questions, and as masters courses are usually much smaller than undergrads, it may give you the opportunity to get to know the staff – which can be useful if you need to contact them with any future queries.
As with your undergrad, keep a close eye on application deadlines! If your chosen course does not have a deadline, then don’t be tempted to leave it too late, as often places are given on a first come, first served basis and popular courses may fill up early!
Your application may require you to submit a CV, which should be tailored to the course you are submitting to. With help writing a CV, the Careers Service have lots of helpful resources and you could also book a 1:1 session with an advisor to improve your CV.
As with CV writing, the Careers Service offer lots of helpful resources as well as 1:1 sessions to help guide you with writing your personal statement. Your personal statement should show your passion and enthusiasm for the subject and is likely to include areas such as ‘Why are you applying?’ and ‘What makes you a good candidate?’. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet, but don’t be tempted to lie as you may be asked questions relating to the content of your personal statement during an interview!
You may be required to submit a number of documents with your application. For help with these, you can visit SSID who have access to your student records and can print documents such as your transcripts (although these may incur a small cost!).
You are likely to require at least one reference for your masters application. Choose the member of staff wisely, you should aim to pick academics who know you well and are familiar with your work – dissertation supervisors and tutors are ideal. Make sure that you ask your referee before submitting their details!
Make sure you have some idea of how you will fund your masters degree. Dont be put off by course fees as there may be bursaries and scholarships available, and if you are a UK undergraduate you are likely to be eligible for the new Student Finance England postgraduate loan which is up to £10k. Unlike undergraduate student finance, postgraduate student finance opens much later in the year so keep an eye on the website and don’t be afraid to ring them with any queries (they are very friendly!).
Once your application is complete and your references have been sent, there can be a long wait for an offer. If, like me, you have been waiting for what feels like a lifetime, then a follow up email may help. If you have made contacts with any staff at an open day then dropping them an email shows you are enthusiastic and may speed the process up a little.
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