Masters application formats vary. Sometimes you’ll be given a series of short questions. This can be helpful in letting you know exactly what the institution is looking for. But sometimes you’ll be asked to simply submit an application letter or personal statement. In these cases it can be tempting to tell the story of your life, but a good personal statement should be more focussed.
Here are three tips for putting together an effective Masters personal statement.
1) Explain why you’ll make an excellent postgraduate student
Job adverts are often explicit about the skills expected from an ideal candidate, making it clear what to sell in your applications. Masters programs are rarely as helpful, but you need to apply the same logic to your application.
Think about the skills an excellent postgraduate student would have, and show the admissions team that you’ve got them. Give examples of relevant modules/essays/presentations you completed as part of your undergraduate degree, along with the (hopefully high) marks you gained. Research is often a key part of postgraduate study, so detail your research experience and what it taught you. And what about the wider contribution you’ll make to the university? If you’ve been a student representative or active in societies in the past, let them know.
2) Don’t forget to tell them why!
In personal statements it can be easy to talk only about your knowledge, skills, and experience, and forget to tell them why you’re applying for this course in the first place. How have your experiences led you here? And how will the course help you in the future?
3) Make it specific
It’s rare to come across a masters course that has no equivalent at another institution. So when explaining your motivation for studying a certain subject you should also explain why you want to study this particular course at this particular university. How does it differ from similar programs? Which modules are you most looking forward to? What have past graduates told you about the course? And are there any lecturers you’re especially excited to work with? This will show that you care enough to have done some thorough research, and that you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
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