Applying for a Masters in the UK is quite easy – if you have the right information. In this post I share with you 10 things you should know about applying for a Masters degree.
1. You Apply Directly to the University
Whereas undergraduates use UCAS to apply to university in the UK, at Masters level you apply directly to the university. Well, most of the time.
Some UK universities use the UCAS UKPass application system, and if you’re applying for teacher training or performing arts courses taught at conservatoires, then you would also apply through UCAS.
2. It’s the 21st Century – It’s All Online
You apply for your Masters course online – surprise! I’m not aware of any Masters courses that can’t take online applications, but if you do know any, tell me by leaving a comment below.
The online application form can look slightly different from university to university. But they usually all want more or less the information about you and your qualifications.
3. Is There or Isn’t There an Application Fee?
Would you agree that many students apply to a university though they don’t really want to go there? This is why some universities charge an application fee – they want the serious applicants only.
If there is an application fee for your course, it should be around £200 but it can vary. Before you pay, always check the refund policy. If you get an offer and you don’t accept it, you won’t get your fee back. But you might if you don’t get an offer from the university.
4. The Application Deadline Can Be Early or Late
Some Masters courses have limited places and close early, around February or March in the same year before the course starts. Others take applications on a rolling basis and the course will only close after all places have been allocated.
Or, there may be a late deadline date. For example, if your course begins in October, your deadline may be in July. As they say, always check to avoid disappointment.
5. How Many Courses You Can You Apply For
You can apply to as many Masters courses as you like – unless you’re using UKPass, in which case you can apply to ‘only’ ten.
Whether you apply directly or through UKPass, the university won’t know where else you have applied. They usually ask you about your other choices on your application form, but it’s up to you whether or not to share this information.
Some students apply to more than one Masters course with the same university. That’s fine with most, but I’ve seen a few selective universities that say that you can’t apply to more than one of their Masters courses at the same time.
6. The Application Documents You Will Need
Universities ask for “supporting documents” with your application. Usually this means:
- Your Masters Personal Statement
- Your Academic References
- Certificates/transcripts of your academic qualifications (both completed and ongoing)
- English language qualifications (if relevant)
- Information on your work history; or
- Your CV, especially if you’re applying for an MBA programme.
- Writing samples, portfolio of your creative work, video or audio recordings of a performance for some courses
7. If You Want to Apply Through An Agent
Most British universities work with education agents – often they’re called ‘Overseas Representatives’.
If you want to apply through an agent, check the university’s website to find out which agents the university works with. It may be that all of your university choices work with the same agent. Or, on the contrary: they all work with different agents. Some universities don’t accept applications through agents at all.
8. How they Make a Decision on Your Application
For many Masters courses, the university will make its decision by looking at your application and supporting documents only. For many other courses, there may be an interview, entrance test, audition or other.
Similarly, the decision may be made by the Masters Programme Director, by staff in the admissions office – or by both.
9. Heard of an Admissions ‘Waiver’?
If you don’t meet the exact entry requirements, it’s often still worth checking with the university if you should apply. UK universities set their own entry requirements and they accept many different qualifications. Many are also prepared to ‘waive’ their standard requirements for applicants that are excellent.
I’ve seen students get offers for Masters degrees – though they didn’t have an undergraduate degree. But they usually had quite a few years of relevant work experience and / or professional qualifications.
10. How Many Offers You Can Accept
As a Masters applicant, you can accept as many offers as you get – not like undergraduates who can only have one ‘firm’ choice.
But, some universities might ask you to pay a deposit to accept your place – to make sure you only say ‘yes’ if you’re serious about taking the offer.
By the way, you know how I said earlier that universities can’t see where else you have applied? If you use UKPass, universities can see each others’ offers once all universities have made their decision. Don’t be surprised if some of them start contacting you to convince you to accept their offer.
How to apply for a Masters degree in the UK is straightforward and similar across different universities.
However, there are important differences when it comes to deadlines, application fees, who make the decision on your application and, of course, also the entry requirements. Remember to always check the admissions process and requirements for each of your Masters choices very carefully.
You may want to apply through an education agent, and most universities do take applications in this way. For the few universities that don’t, you would have to apply independently.
If your course has an application fee or deposit to secure your offer, always take a few minutes to check the university’s refund policy before making your payment.