6 tips for applying to master’s
Wondering what to do once you finish your degree? Well, it’s pretty much master’s application season right now. And we’ve got your back!
Applying for a master's is very different from applying for your undergrad. Forget UCAS points, five options, and first choices. Applying for a master's is very much a taster for what a master’s is, a course that allows you more autonomy but also gives you more responsibility. It’s the chance to get down to the crux of your academic passion and study something you literally want to, well, master.
- Timing: Master’s applications don’t all have the same deadline. In fact, even within the same university different MAs can close applications sooner or later than others, so the key is to be really well informed and make sure to put that deadline in your calendar. In fact, try not to leave it to the last minute as some courses may fill up spaces as they receive applications rather than waiting until the last application is in to review them. Sometimes it can be hard to even find a deadline. If you’re struggling just email the department at the university you’re applying for to double-check.
- Information: This might seem obvious but honestly, the more you know about the course you’re applying for, the better your chances of getting a spot. Gone are the days where you vaguely said you were interested in History or Science. Master’s give you the chance to specify and deepen your knowledge. You don’t have to have all the answers, but it does help to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what you want to get from it in return. For example, look at the modules you will be taking, the assessments that will be expected from you, and the minimum requirements.
- Reach out of your comfort zone: Maybe you’re used to reaching out to thousands of recruiters and experts on LinkedIn, but most of us aren’t. It can be intimidating to contact strangers and ask them for help. However, in reality, people are usually much more eager to help than you might originally think. Look for people that are currently taking the master’s you’re applying for, or who have done in the past. Ask them for advice on the interviewing process, what to expect from the course, and if it was all worth it. Of course, remember that whatever they tell you will refer to their personal experience with the course, and everyone’s is different.
- Attend events: Most universities you apply for will have postgraduate open evenings. Perhaps not the most exciting event on your calendar but truly worth your time! You can meet some of the tutors, get advice on applications and interviews, clarify any questions you may have, and perhaps even find a course that is better suited to you than the one you were originally considering.
- Stay calm: Applications are stressful, especially if you’re really passionate about the course or job you’re applying for, but it won’t help to rush or overcompensate. Stick to the basics: what are your passions, what are your current skills, what do you want to learn, and where you hope this course will take you. You don’t need to go beyond that - the university will be trying to make sure this course is right for you too!
- Just do it: The hardest thing is sitting down and writing that application. It probably won’t happen in one go and it probably isn’t a good idea to finish it in one sitting either. While you don’t want master’s applications to take over your life, especially if you’re currently studying or working, you might want to sleep on some of your answers. Every course is different, some will ask for a personal statement, or a portfolio, or perhaps you will be asked to complete some sort of test. The key is to make sure you set yourself some time to calmly focus on that task and then get some help! While the work needs to be all you, there’s no harm in getting someone you trust to read through your application and help you make adjustments if necessary.
It’s also important to note that financing for master’s is not the same as undergraduate student loans. There are specific rules and deadlines for applying for master’s funding. Make sure to check the UK GOV page regularly. Moreover, instead of paying your fees directly to the university, you will receive your funding yourself and then be responsible for paying the university - so make sure to take care of that money and keep on top of your finances.