The application process for a Masters degree is not a difficult process, but it is no walk in the park either. It requires a careful time management, as well as thinking ahead and gather all the required documents, tests and references before you can embark on your post-Bachelor academic journey.
Timing is crucial in the Masters application process. Places are often limited and fill very quickly. Most institutions recommend that you do not leave it for the last minute to prepare and send your application papers. Ideally, you should start to think about the application process in October and submit the documents by January, preferably no later than May. However, some universities and colleges accept applications until late August. To secure a place early and have some peace of mind over the summer months, it is certainly worthwhile to get a head start.
A successful application is not necessarily just about good grades. It is the whole package that leads to convincing and winning Masters application. Competition for good places is high and it pays off to think carefully about each element that is required in the application process. The exact requirements for specific Masters programmes differ by institution and programme. A combination of some of the following factors is usually a must.
Receiving qualified references also takes a thorough timing, as it is important to give your referees enough time to write and submit them for you. Contact your referees early – they are likely to have a busy schedule and you won't receive the best letter, pushing them to get it in on time. However, even if you contact your referees early, it could happen that you will have to remind them afterwords. It is also important that you give your referees comprehensive information about where you are applying and what your goals are. These documents can sometimes be completed in an online process, others have to be submitted in print, in a sealed envelope that is submitted with the rest of the papers.
Choose your referees carefully. Typically, you will have to produce two or three references from people who know you academically or within a professional context – depending on the type of Masters degree. Choose a professor or lecturer that knows and appreciates your strengths and in whose courses you have performed well in. The referee has to have both relevance for the application process and positive knowledge of your academic capacity. Similarly, if one of your referees comes from a professional context, make sure it is someone superior to you, who can and will effectively highlight your strengths and capacities.
The essay, or personal statement, is one of the most important parts of your application. Admission officers look for outstanding candidates. They have no more than two minutes on average to read your essay. Thus, it is important that you make the most of this time and raise sufficient interest that the admission officer might consider your application further. Stress not only your character and qualities, but relate them to the programme directly.
An outstanding essay can in some cases make up for a mediocre undergraduate record, so you should prepare it with care and consideration. We have put together some of the most important aspects to keep in mind, when writing your essay: