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 by Chantelle Francis
, posted on 8 Mar '18

Applying for a Masters - 6 Things to Bear in Mind

In many ways, applying for a Masters degree isn’t all that different from applying for a Bachelors.

You’ll need to allocate yourself plenty of time, make sure you’ve considered your options carefully, and write a personal statement detailing why you’re a good candidate for the course.

However, there are some key differences that you should know about before you begin your application.

This blog provides some information and tips to make sure yours goes as well as possible.

#1 – There’s (probably) no UCAS

If you are applying for a Masters in the UK, there is no centralised system for applications like the one you'll have used for your undergraduate course. Some universities do use a version of UCAS for some courses, but this is fairly rare.

Instead, once you’ve found a Masters, you will normally apply for it directly, through an institution’s website (you can do this by following the links in our course listings). This can involve setting up a profile with a login, and uploading supporting documents alongside your application.

It’s worth noting that the application process may vary by country, so make sure to check this if you’re studying abroad.

#2 - You can apply to more than one course

This might seem an obvious statement. However, it does tend to catch people out.

After all, Masters degrees are much more specialised and niche. So it’s less likely that you’ll apply for as many courses as you did at undergrad.

That being said, there’s nothing to stop you applying for a Masters at more than one university, or applying for several Masters courses at the same institution.

As long as you feel you fit the bill and have time to manage multiple postgraduate applications, don’t worry about applying for a few different courses.

#3 – Tailor your application if you need to

If you are applying to similar Masters courses, you probably don’t need to worry too much about producing completely different sets of application materials.

Do bear in mind though that different programmes (and universities) may be interested in specific aspects of your background and experience. Your personal statement is the perfect place to 'customise' applications in this way. Ask yourself what a programme leader or admissions tutor is likely to be most interested in and select information accordingly.

#4 - Update your CV

Yes, you’ll need a CV to apply to most Masters programmes. Don’t worry too much if you don’t have a great deal of work experience. The main focus is on your prior education.

Your CV is also a place to detail any extracurricular activities you undertook throughout your undergraduate degree, and any positions of responsibility you’ve held.

Awards and achievements can also be mentioned here, as well as any other training or qualifications you’ve gained.

#5 - Time your references carefully

Much like a job application, a Masters application usually requires that you supply at least two academic references.

After all, you’re making step up from undergraduate to postgraduate, so institutions will want a fully-rounded view of a candidate’s capabilities.

With this in mind, it is important that you contact your referees in good time, before beginning your application.

Lecturers are very busy professionals, conducting research and writing publications alongside teaching you and your fellow students. As a result, you should always ask if they are prepared to supply a reference for you. Not only is this polite, it also gives them the opportunity to let you know how long the process will take.

After all, the last thing you want is for your reference to be rushed, right?

#6 - Know when to apply for funding

In most cases, you will need to have applied for a course before you can apply for funding. There’s a simple reason for this: funders will want to know that you’re a genuine student.

The UK’s postgraduate loans are also something of an exception to this rule. You’ll need to select a course in order to apply, but you can change your mind about the specific programme before your first payment.

Some other funding sources will ask you for your unique course application code (supplied by the university) to ensure you are applying for the funding legitimately.

Bear in mind that deadlines for funding applications can be stricter than those for courses - make sure you know when the cut-off is.

Editor's note: This blog was first published on 28/06/2017. We've checked and updated it for current readers.

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