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Ten Step Guide to Applying For a Masters Degree

Are you considering applying for a Master’s degree but not sure where to start? After three years of burning the midnight oil, late library sessions and discovering the intricate differences between the various referencing systems, some of us just can’t wait to do the whole thing again for another year. And if you love your subject, quite right too!

However, if the thought of applying for a Master’s sends you back to the days of desperately analysing UCAS points and league table results, then never fear. This little guide will have you raring to write a personal statement in no time. 

Step 1: Don't Fear the Application Process

dont fear applying
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If you remember frantically adding up points on your A Level results day, you’ll be pleased to know that the UCAS system is a distant memory when it comes to Master's degrees.

Most university websites will state the degree level required, essential language qualifications (for foreign students), and some may accept other credentials if you’ve not completed undergraduate study.

Step 2: Think Carefully About Your Subject

think carefully
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Think of the lectures that got you fired up and passionate – further study around these topics will be the right direction. Your Master's degree may include writing up to a total of 40,000 words, including your dissertation and any other essays. So, if you got bored of writing that Civil War project two paragraphs in, better leave jolly old Cromwell for another day.

Step 3: Compare the Courses

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A number of universities will offer courses for your chosen subject, so think what will suit you best. Don’t like exams? Then pick one with heavy coursework weightings. Love a particular topic? Then choose the course offering the most modules for it. Also consider which university has the best teaching staff, its location and student satisfaction results.

Go to: Search for Postgraduate courses

Step 4: Research Funding Opportunities

research funding
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Most Master's students either already have reserves for the year or request support. Depending on your institution and course, various bursaries and scholarships will be available to apply for and you can contact the universities’ welfare departments for advice.

Charities, Foundations, Research Councils and Trusts can also help, and universities usually provide emergency funding should you face serious financial trouble mid-term.

Go to: Search for Postgraduate funding options

Step 5: Refresh Your CV

refresh your cv
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While your gap year in Mongolia may have been enlightening, and your charity shop volunteering highly commendable, what have you done to prove you love your subject?  Have you had work experience with a relevant company? What about local or university societies? 

Competition will be tough, but it’s never too late to join new groups and grow your impressive portfolio! 

Step 6: Perfect your Personal Statement

perfect your personal statement
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This may be stating the obvious, but your personal statement really must impress; you can’t just hand in your old UCAS version (sorry about that).

What have you achieved in three years? What do your extra curricular activities demonstrate? Tailor your statement towards the course’s preferred candidate descriptions and have someone read over your work to offer advice.

Go to: How to write a postgraduate personal statement

Step 7: Revise, Revise, Revise!

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After you send off your personal statement and qualification details, hopefully you will be invited to an interview

Each one will vary but prepare to receive writing exercises or a general knowledge test relating to your subject. The more you read around, the more confident you will feel. Practice the interview with a friend and anticipate what you might be asked (promise them some form of takeaway in return, you’ll have loads of people willing to help).

Step 8: Ace the Interviews

ace the interview
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Try not to be nervous. Easier said than done, but if you’ve prepared properly, talking about something you love will be good fun. Don’t be afraid to sound passionate either. If you have a relevant wacky interest, such as Teddy Bear manufacturers in the 1920s, then tell the lecturer! It’s important to stand out and show dedication.

Go to:Prepare for Your Postgraduate Interview in Three Easy Steps

Step 9: Registration

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Once your offers start coming in you’ll need to register with your chosen university online. It’s good to go all in on the admin with this one. Buy a special folder to store correspondence and flag up important registration emails.

The university's administration office will also want to know personal details and module requirements. So be sure to keep on top of deadlines or you could face an annoying phone call to update forgotten information or passwords!

Step 10: Congratulations – And It’s Never Too Late To Switch!

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Once you have confirmed your undergraduate results, the induction week will arrive in no time!

Whilst you will hopefully spend it feeling fired up about another year of study, you could get cold feet. If you think the grass looks greener on another module, lecturers won’t mind if you switch courses a few weeks in. Talk to as many staff members as possible, as they will help you decide and make the transition as easy as possible. 

Next: Search for Master's courses


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