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If you are considering postgraduate study, you will need to think about writing an application that demonstrates why you are the right candidate for the course and their university. This is where your personal statement comes in.
You’ll already have written a personal statement for your undergraduate application, so the concept should be familiar. However, there are some things you should be aware of when it comes to writing specifically for postgraduate study.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to write a stand-out Masters personal statement and provide you with some valuable insights from Laura and Danielle, members of our Recruitment and Business Development teams here at Warwick Business School (WBS).
What is a Masters personal statement?
An MSc personal statement, also known as a ‘statement of purpose’, supports your application to study a postgraduate course at university. It should highlight your key skills and experience whilst demonstrating your understanding of the course and conveying your academic skills and interests.
From her experience in the Recruitment and Business Development team at WBS, Laura gives her take on a personal statement:
Your personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself and differentiate yourself from any other applicant, share your passion for joining WBS and link your life experiences and skills to how you could contribute to a cohort.
How long should a Masters personal statement be?
A personal statement for postgraduate study should be around 500 words and within two pages of A4. Whilst you won’t be penalised if it is slightly longer, you should always make sure the content is relevant and doesn’t repeat information elsewhere in your application.
Masters personal statements are shorter and much more focused compared to the personal statement you would have provided for your undergraduate application.
What do you need to prepare before writing a Masters personal statement?
Before writing your personal statement for postgraduate study, there are a few things you should consider.
Research your options
Take the time to read through course pages and brochures. You’ll find in-depth information on what the course involves and how it might align with your career goals. Danielle explains how understanding what the course involves is key in demonstrating your suitability and passion for a course:
All of our course webpages feature extensive information on the course modules, so take the time to show you’ve done your research in your personal statement. Your personal statement is your chance to relate yourself to our core values and demonstrate what a strong candidate you will be for one of our programmes. Ensure you also use this as an opportunity to link our programme to your future career.
Course titles should not be taken at face value. Whilst some universities will have courses with the same titles, the content will differ. You need to demonstrate you understand what the course entails and why you want to apply for a particular course as. Danielle adds:
Take time to look at the content of the course you are applying for; although course titles may be the same at different universities the course content will be different. Do your research and demonstrate this in your personal statement, showing how invested you are in studying at WBS.
Consider what you want from your studies
The range of choice when it comes to postgraduate study is vast, and it can feel overwhelming when deciding which course is right for you.
Whilst opinions from your friends and family are important, they shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor when choosing a course. Ultimately you need to consider what you really want and whether it aligns with your career goals.
Begin to prepare your application
Once you have decided which course you would like to apply for and you’ve ensured you meet the entry requirements, you will need to begin preparing your application. This includes collecting the correct documentation such as a CV, transcript, personal statement, and reference.
What should you include in a Masters personal statement?
Recruitment and admissions teams receive thousands of applications each year so it is important that your personal statement is to the point and demonstrates what they are looking for in their students.
Danielle gives some insight into what our recruitment team looks for in a personal statement for a Masters degree:
Aim to keep your personal statement to the point by making sure you answer the following questions, addressing the key points our Selection Committee will be looking for:
- Why have you selected this course? What are your motivating factors?
- How do you see this course impacting your career plans?
- What experience will you contribute to your cohort?
- How do you align with the core values of the University?
- What is your proudest achievement?
As well as addressing these key questions, you should also include the following:
You need to demonstrate how your undergraduate study has prepared you for a postgraduate course. You can do this by highlighting specific achievements, projects and pieces of work as well as mentioning any particular topics that interest you.
If you completed any professional work experience alongside your studies, it is a good idea to mention them here. Highlight any duties, tasks and responsibilities you had to demonstrate what you gained from this work experience.
Relevant extracurricular activities
Including information about relevant extracurricular activities you are involved in can help to give a more rounded view of you as a person. This could include volunteering opportunities and any meaningful hobbies you have.
Your transferable skills should be highlighted throughout your personal statement. The types of things you could include are presentation skills, communication skills, analytical thinking and time management. Consider what you can bring to lectures and workshops. For example, if your course involves a lot of group work, use an example where you demonstrate your experience with this.
What should you avoid when writing a Masters personal statement?
Repetition of information
When submitting both a CV and personal statement it can be easy to fall into the trap of just repeating the same information across both documents. Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to reflect and expand on what you have stated on your CV, rather than repeating the same information.
Not providing enough context
Simply listing your achievements without providing context will not prove to the recruitment teams that you are the right candidate for the course. Provide hard evidence to back up the statements you make and try to give two or three in-depth examples, rather than several weak answers.
Not tailoring your application to the specific university or course
Recruitment and admissions teams are keen to hear why you have chosen a specific course and why you want to attend their university. You need to provide clear examples of what excites you about their institution and how you can align with their particular values.
What do recruitment teams look for in a Masters personal statement?
University recruitment teams and selection committees review thousands of applications each year. To ensure your application stands out, you must show that you have taken the time to prepare and research your chosen university.
Recruitment teams want to see your passion for the subject and motivations for joining their institution. Detailing your experience and the skills you can bring will help to emphasise this. Laura also suggests not overlooking the obvious when it comes to writing a personal statement:
It may sound simple but the first answer to this question is that the Selection Committee wants to see a well written, clearly structured personal statement which demonstrates good preparation and research.
What else do I need to include with my Masters application?
The documents you need to include in your application may vary by institution and course. But generally, as well as your personal statement, you will also need to include:
- Your CV
- Academic and professional references
- Copies of your undergraduate degree certificate and academic transcripts
- A portfolio (this is common for creative courses)
- A research proposal (not all courses will require this)
If you are an international student, there are some additional things you will need to provide including:
- A copy of your passport
- Proof of your language proficiency through either a GCSE in English or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) certificate
When are the deadlines for Masters applications?
Deadlines for Masters programmes vary quite widely between courses and universities. Information on specific deadlines can be found on their respective course pages and postgraduate brochures. You should aim to make an application early in the cycle to ensure there are still places available on the course.
Deadlines for scholarships and external scholarships can also vary, so if you wish to apply for these, you will also have to factor in these deadlines.
Frequently asked questions
Is there an interview for Masters programmes?
While not a requirement for all postgraduate programmes, some institutions may ask you to attend an interview.
At WBS, there are no interviews for MSc courses. Instead, all decisions are made based on the application you submit. Your undergraduate transcript will be reviewed in depth along with your CV and personal statement.
How many Masters can you apply for?
If you are applying to a UK university, you can apply for as many courses and universities as you like. However, you should not over-stretch yourself and you should only apply for courses that you are really passionate about.
Writing an appropriately tailored application can be time-consuming and attempting to write too many could jeopardise your chances of being successful.
Do you have to pay for your Masters application?
Some institutions do have application fees when applying for a Masters which helps to cover the administration costs. The amount will vary by institution but it is usually between £25 and £150.
How do I apply for a Masters degree?
Many Masters applications will be done directly through the university website, however, some will be done through UCAS Postgraduate.
Many of these systems allow you to create an account and save your progress so you do not need to complete your application in one go. However, ensure you always give yourself plenty of time to complete the application to the best of your ability.
Discover our range of MSc courses at Warwick Business School
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Our challenging and rewarding courses will provide you with everything you need to take your personal and professional skills to the next level.