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Postgraduate (Masters)

Applying for a Masters isn’t necessarily the same as applying for an undergraduate programme. Although there are some similarities – you’ll probably need to write a personal statement, for example – the application process very much reflects the post-graduate nature of a Masters.

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You’ll be expected to show what you learned during your Bachelor’s and how you plan on using this experience to make a success of an advanced qualification.

This page covers what you need to know before beginning your postgraduate application. From how you apply for a Master’s and the documents you’ll need to provide, to important deadlines, we’re here to help.

Masters applications – step-by-step

If you’re applying directly to a university for your Masters, your application will usually follow these steps:

  • 1. Find your perfect Masters – With thousands of postgraduate programmes listed on our website, we’re the ideal place to start!
  • 2. Contact referees in advance – Start thinking about previous lecturers or tutors who could provide a reference for you. It’s a good idea to send them an email asking for permission to put their name down as a reference.
  • 3. Write your personal statement – Start work on your personal statement as early as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to proof-read and, if necessary, redraft.
  • 4. Apply online through the university website – Most universities have their own online applications systems, so make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with your prospective university’s website and know how to begin the application proper.
  • 5. Attach supporting documents – After you’ve filled in your personal details on the university’s postgraduate admissions portal, you’ll probably need to attach a series of documents supporting your application. These could include your personal statement, references and copies of your academic qualifications.
  • 6. Check your email regularly – When you’ve finished the application, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your inbox for (hopefully positive!) news from the admissions department. Keep an eye on your Junk / Spam email folder too, just in case an email ends up in there!

When are the Masters application deadlines?

Deadlines for Masters applications can vary quite widely between postgraduate programmes and universities. Generally speaking, you can apply up to a month or so before the Masters is due to begin (if there are still places on the course). So, August for Masters programmes starting in September.

If you’re an international student who needs a visa, you’ll need to take this into account and your postgraduate application deadline will be earlier.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that most universities are closed over the Christmas holidays, which means they won’t be able to process applications during this time. You should factor this into your timeline if you’re planning on a January or February start date.

If you’re applying for a course that uses the UCAS Postgraduate application service, you can use their search tool to check the deadline for a particular UCAS Masters’s programme.

How do I apply for a Masters’s degree?

In most cases, you’ll apply directly to your prospective university. This will be through an online applications portal or by printing off an application form and posting it with the relevant documents.

Similarly, different rules apply if you’re applying for one of the following postgraduate qualifications:

You’ll need to supply the following documents for a Masters application:

  • Application form
  • Personal statement
  • Academic / professional references
  • Copies of your degree certificate and academic transcripts
  • A CV (for some courses)
  • Research proposal (if you’re applying for a research Masters like an MPhil or MRes)
  • Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)

How many Masters can you apply for?

If you’re applying directly to a UK university for your Masters, there’s no limit to the number of courses you can apply for. However, the application process can be time-consuming and you should be careful not to overstretch yourself. It’s generally a good idea to limit yourself to three or four applications, rather than applying for many Masters programmes.

Make sure that you tailor each application to the programme in question rather than using a template format for each one. You should talk specifically about the course, mentioning why it appeals to you and how it’ll help you achieve your goals.

For those courses listed above that use a different application method, you may find that you can only apply to a certain number of programmes.

If you’re applying for a postgraduate teacher training course in England or Wales, you can make up to three applications. For Scottish teacher training courses, meanwhile, you can apply for up to five programmes.

Are there any application fees?

Most universities don’t charge fees for postgraduate applications. Several of the most competitive institutions do charge an application fee, however. If you’re applying for a course at a prestigious business school, you’re more likely to be charged a Masters’s admission fee.

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