How to apply for a master’s degree

Freddie Parker on 1 February 2022
Person holding degree certificate and graduation cap while dabbing

Looking into postgraduate study, but unsure where to start? Here are some basic steps to take when applying for a master's.

Postgraduate education is a great way to prolong your academic experience. You can specialise further in your chosen field, or use it to train into something entirely different.

There are loads of valid reasons to study for a master’s, so here’s what you need to do to apply:

Which postgrad course should you study?

Hopefully, you have a rough idea of what you want to study. Researching the subject online is a great place to start. Sites like FindAMasters provide loads of information on postgraduate courses.

One thing worth considering is whether the university you studied your undergrad at offers benefits to returning students. Some places offer cheaper fees to students coming back for postgraduate studies. If they are good for your chosen subject, that’s a good option that’ll help you save money during your master’s.

What are the entry requirements for a master's?

While there will be similarities between different universities’ application processes, it is essential to understand their entry requirements. Some need you to submit proposals or portfolios as part of the application process. The webpage for the course will have all this information. 

Generally, it is best to have everything organised before you begin applying. However, definitely try and contact the people running the course. They can help you if you’re applying for a master’s having studied a bachelor’s in a different field, or are applying based on portfolio/experience.

Do you need to apply for a master's via UCAS?

To avoid any of the costs associated with using UCAS, you can apply directly to the university via the course webpage. You can find guides all over the internet on how to write things like personal statements and project proposals. Research what admissions teams are looking for in your field, and use this to help you apply.

By not using UCAS, you can also avoid their deadline. When it comes to master’s applications, you can usually apply right up until the month before the course starts. Although there are advantages to getting your application in early, don’t feel pressured to rush the process.

What student loans are available for a master's?

Once you have a place on a master’s programme, start applying for student loans. It’s always a good idea to get this sorted as soon as possible.

The master’s loan works slightly differently to UG loans. It is a flat amount to be used over the duration of your studies, currently set at £12,167. This will usually cover the fees and provide you with a little left over to help with living costs.

You’ll probably need a part-time job lined up to supplement your living costs. It’s also worth having a small pot of savings ready in case it becomes too stressful working while you study. However, more often than not, master’s programmes have fewer contact hours, so flexible shift work easily slots into your schedule.

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Freddie Parker
Freddie Parker on 1 February 2022