Top tips for tackling postgraduate admissions

Having a good undergraduate degree is just the start of your masters journey. Here are some top tips for tackling postgraduate admissions when applying for a masters or PhD position.

There is a lot of advice online from students who have got in to study a masters degree. Some of this is useful, and some is not great. Here is a selection of top tips for postgraduate applications and admissions from some of the best UK universities.

  • Avoid the temptation to use ‘I feel’ in any of the statements in your application. Universities are looking for precise language so there is no room for vague emotions – always write with precise language
  • Keep your written personal statements brief and to the point. You might be tempted to add more and more words in order to show you are really enthusiastic, but try not to ‘over-sell’ yourself. The admissions team and tutors are very experienced, and they will spot the candidates who will fit into the programme without having to be convinced by too much detail.
  • Always read through and understand the guidance section if it is part of your application. If there is anything that might cause an issue with the application check it. Get in touch with the university if you need to.
  • Contact your academic referees in advance. They will be in great demand from other students seeking their endorsement. Don’t expect them to answer your request by return email, particularly if they have demanding timetable commitments.
  • Make sure you have a source of finance to cover your fees and living expenses. Lots of students make applications and then hope they can find the money later. Try to sort this issue before you go to far in the process because if you don’t have a source of funding then you wont be allowed to enrol on the course.
  • Its good to explain your motivations for wanting to study the masters degree. Even if you might think you don’t have really strong reasons for applying. Remember its not about study because you can’t get a job. Some universities publish guides to help you apply.
  • Always check your spelling and grammar. Universities can make allowances for students who do not have English as their first language. Using a spell check is easy.
  • Remember that any volunteering or work experience you took while you were an undergraduate is relevant to your application, so make sure to include it. Milestones you have achieved will help the admissions team form a picture of you and how you will fit into the programme.
  • If you have future goals in mind then its good to share these, particularly if they join up with the course you are interested in.
  • Follow the advice sections to check on the deadlines for any course you are interested in. Try and get your application in early – its not like applying for a job where processing candidates can be quite quick at the top level.
  • There could be a lot of details and documents needed as part of your submission. Make sure you don’t have to rummage through boxes looking for certificates in your loft at the last minute - be prepared!
  • Check the minimum entry requirements and English language requirements
  • Make sure you can access your emails in case you have to supply further information for any reason.

There are lots of tips you will pick up for tackling postgraduate admissions. Remember to keep positive when you are applying for your masters course and look forward to winning that place.