Personal Statements for Postgraduate Applications |
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Personal Statements for Masters Degree Applications

Once you’ve found that perfect Masters degree, the next step is to begin the application process. Almost all postgraduate courses will ask you to write a short personal statement that highlights your strengths, skills and experience. This is your chance to sell yourself and to show the admissions tutor that you’ll thrive at their university.

What should my personal statement cover?

You should say why you’re applying for this particular course and institution, talking about what makes it such an appealing place to study. Perhaps there’s a member of staff who you’re especially excited about working with, or a unique element of the curriculum that jumps out at you. Demonstrate how and why you are invested in your subject. It’s important to mention your academic and employment history, explaining its impact on your choice of a postgraduate course.

Give examples of some of the skills you’ve developed at university or at work, and how they’ll help you succeed with a Masters degree. These could include:

  • Research
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • More course-specific instances of experience

Your personal statement is an opportunity to write about your future career goals, and how you think this Masters will help you achieve them. You can also discuss preliminary ideas you might have for your Masters dissertation, giving the admissions tutor an indication of the specialist knowledge you have in your field.

If there are any significant gaps in your education or employment, you should offer a brief explanation of those extenuating circumstances (for example, illness or a gap year).

Frequently asked questions about a Masters

If you have any other questions or concerns about applying for a Masters, our FAQ page features lots of useful information on the application process and beyond. Find out more.

How should I write my personal statement?

The way in which you write your personal statement is just as important as the content; a clear, structured statement is evidence of your ability to communicate effectively. Following these tips will help you write a compelling statement:

  • Use positive, enthusiastic language, with a professional tone of voice
  • Provide evidence to back up your claims
  • Aim for a word count of around 500 words (one A4 side of text)
  • Jot down a short plan before you begin writing the statement
  • Make sure your personal statement is carefully structured, with an attention-grabbing introduction, engaging middle section and concise conclusion

Some of the most common barriers to a successful personal statement include:

  • A reliance on clichés (“Since childhood I have been passionate about literature…”) — think of a way to put it that the admissions tutor won’t have seen lots of times before!
  • Waffle — avoid meandering, vague sentences
  • Using the same personal statement for different applications — tailor each statement to the course you’re applying for
  • Poor spelling and grammar

Don’t make the mistake of using your undergraduate personal statement as a template for your Masters application. A Masters is a big step up from your undergraduate degree, and the admissions tutor will be looking for evidence that you’ve developed academically since then. Find out more about the differences between undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Always give yourself enough time to complete your personal statement (and the application process in general) well before the deadline — don’t leave things to the last minute! It’s crucial to get another pair of eyes on your statement, so ask a friend or relative to proofread the text. It’s also worth checking if you have access to a careers adviser through your current (or previous) university who can help you with the application.

Last updated - 08/12/2017

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