Write an good Masters personal statement and your chances of getting an offer are higher. Write a weak personal statement and…well, you could be rejected. In this post I share with you my 7 tips plus EXAMPLES so you can make your Masters personal statement work FOR YOU, not against you.
1. This Paragraph Would Be a Bad Start
When writing something, most of us find it hard to know how to start. I guess this is why many students start their personal statements like this – which you should definitely AVOID.
“My name is … and I am a university student interested in studying…”
“Ever since I was young, I have had a passion for…”
“It has always been my dream to…”
“As Albert Einstein said…”
If you start like this, you’ll sound like everyone else and that won’t make you very interesting. Also, admissions staff find it hard to believe that applicants have ‘always dreamed’ or ‘always wanted’ to study their subject.
As for the quote, that’s something clever someone else said. But the admissions staff are interested in YOU and what you have to say.
2. Want to Get Their Attention? Start With the Course Subject
One of the first things the admissions staff will want to understand when reading your Masters personal statement is: why are you applying to study this subject?
Start by telling them in your first paragraph about your interest in the subject. You don’t need the details here, just a a quick introduction to what’s motivating you. This is a surefire way to grab the admissions staff’s interest and make them want to read on.
It’s really that simple.
“I am applying for (name of Masters) because of my keen interest in (subject). I first developed this interest after taking a module in this subject in the second year of my undergraduate degree. Following on from this, I decided to write my thesis on (a related area). The Masters (name of Masters), with its strong focus on (subject), will allow me to explore the subject in greater depth. After completing my Masters studies, I plan work in …. (field or organisation).”
3. You Said You’re Interested, Now Convince Them
In the second paragraph, talk in more detail about your interest in the subject.
Why do you want to study it at Masters level? Which aspects do you want to learn more about? What is it you want to achieve?
The trick here is to use examples, such as things you’ve done in the past, to prove that you’re interested and you’re ‘not just saying it’. Also, mention some of the content or modules you’ll be studying on the Masters. This shows you’ve done your research and have a good idea of what you can expect to study with the university.
1. Provide more details about your interest in the subject:
“My experience in (subject) so far is….I am particularly interested in … ”
2. Give specific examples the aspects of the Masters that interest you:
“I chose the Masters (name of Masters) because it focuses on the impact and importance of (…). This is an important aspect for me, as I can build on my existing knowledge in (…). I am also looking to enhance my theoretical understanding, particularly in the fields of (…).”
3. Mention specific modules taught on the Masters.
“I am particularly interested in modules such as (mention 4 or 5 modules).”
4. Say how the Masters will help you future plans
“My aim is to take a Masters that will benefit the work I want to pursue in (field of work). The above course modules would allow me to gain the theoretical and practical skills relevant to future roles I might apply to.”
4. Other Universities Have Similar Courses, Why Have You Chosen this One?
You should then move on to say why you’ve chosen to apply to their course and their university. Is it because the department teaches your subject in such a way that matches your interests and future plans? Or, perhaps there are academics in the department that you know about and you’d like to study with?
Don’t make the mistake of writing something like ‘…because you have a good reputation’. This is a great reason for you to choose the university – but does it give the university a good reason for why they should offer you a place?
“I am excited to see such a strong focus on (subject) in the department’s research interests. In particular, I am interested in (Professor) and his/her research on (research focus). Although the university’s ranking is hugely positive, to me it is equally important that the department is actively engaged in my chosen field.”
“As part of my Masters studies, I am looking for opportunities to attend guest lectures by experts as well as conferences on related subject topics. I was excited to read about your annual guest lecture programme. I also intend to make the most of the university’s location close to (for example, libraries, archives, political institutions, museums).”
5. You’ve Chosen Them, Why Should They Choose You?
In addition to telling the university how their Masters course is great for you, tell them why they should want you on their course. Don’t be shy to say what makes you a good candidate.
Look at the course description and see what the university says about their ideal candidate. How does your profile match what they look for, why are you a good fit? Again, rather than just saying it, use examples to prove it.
1. Use your previous experience to show your understanding of the subject
“I majored in (your degree major), studying a range of subjects from (list some of the most important subjects).
The modules I took in (mention 2 – 3 modules) increased my interest in how (issues that interest you and why they matter).”
2. Highlight your achievements in the subject area
“As you can see from my academic transcript, I have particularly excelled in areas such as (mention subjects or modules). I consider of my major achievements to be (….). I am also currently writing my final year dissertation on (topic), and a strong focus of this will be (…).”
3. Show that you’re ready to study at Masters level
“Other aspects of my degree that I especially enjoyed were research assignments, reviewing and writing policy papers, and producing seminar presentations. The skills I gained from these aspects of my undergraduate degree will no doubt benefit my Masters studies.”
6. What Else Can You Offer that Will Make You ‘Irresistible’?
One mistake some applicants make is they talk only about their studies and qualifications. But the university staff looking at your application are real persons – interested in you as a person. They will want to get an idea of your personality, your interests outside your studies and how you’ll fit in with the rest of the course group.
So, tell them a little bit about yourself, about any full-time or part-time work you’ve done, and any interests or hobbies. It’s ok to talk about hobbies, as long as you do it in a way that’s RELEVANT and that says something POSITIVE about you.
“To financially support my studies, I work part-time in an office for a small local business. My tasks are mainly administrative but they have given me the opportunity to show my ability to take on responsibility.
In carrying out my tasks, I have proven my ability to organise and prioritise my own work and to always meet my deadlines. I have also very much enjoyed working with other members of the team. Through this, I have learned about the importance of trust and good communication.”
“Outside my studies I am a keen blogger and often contribute online content and comments on issues relating to (topics). My contributions often attract attention and debate and I have improved my ability to write in an informative manner that is also enjoyable to different audiences. I am now looking for an opportunity to demonstrate my skills and abilities at a higher education level and I believe your Masters is the right place for me to do just that.”
7. You Started It Well, Now End It Well
Much like your opening paragraph, the closing paragraph of your Masters personal statement can make a big difference to how the admissions staff will view your entire statement.
Think of your final paragraph as the last thing the admissions staff might read about you before they make a decision on your application. Don’t end your statement on a weak note, like:
“I hope you will offer me a place.”
“If you choose me, I will prove to you I am an excellent student.”
“Studying this Masters will be an honour and will be a dream come true.”
What you should do instead is quickly remind the reader why you’re such a great applicant and why they want you on their course. Show you’re confident, ambitious and enthusiastic, though definitely avoid appearing arrogant or pushy.
“I am excited about the prospect of beginning my Masters studies in the UK. Studying the Masters (name of Masters) will no doubt come with some challenges. However, I see it as an enormous opportunity to build on my current knowledge and skills, and to develop my expertise in the field of (subject). I look forward to hearing from you.”
Masters courses can be very selective about who they are willing to admit. Especially with programmes that are smaller in size, the admissions staff will give much thought to selecting the right ‘mix’ of students and the different qualities each one of them can bring to the group.
Always prepare a plan before as to how you’re going to write your Masters personal statement. For each section, write down a few points that you want to include.
Don’t get stuck trying to write something too clever. What the university is really interested in is you, your experience, qualifications, interests and motivations. Use your Masters personal statement to demonstrate to the admissions staff what you have to offer – and why they would be silly not to offer you a place.