Why do universities ask Masters applicants for a personal statement? Do personal statements really matter or should you not take them seriously? Find out here.
1. What Is A Masters Personal Statement
A Masters personal statement is a document that you write to tell the university you’re applying to about yourself. It’s about 500 – 750 words, or one page (A4) long. To give you an idea, this post is 850 words.
In your personal statement, you explain why you’re interested in the course subject and what experience you have in it. You talk about your qualifications and skills, and what makes you a good candidate for the course you’re applying to.
2. Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
In the British university system, the words ‘personal statement’ and ‘statement of purpose’ mean the same thing.
This is quite different from the US system, where a ‘personal statement’ is usually about you as a person – and an ‘academic statement of purpose’ is about your academic achievements and goals.
In the UK, ‘personal statement’ and ‘statement of purpose’ are both used in the academic sense. However, the term ‘personal statement’ is used more frequently, and it’s also the term that we use in our posts.
3. How Universities Use the Personal Statement
Universities use your personal statement together with other information in your Masters application to decide whether to offer you a place or take your application forward to the next stage (an interview, audition, etc.).
When the admissions staff look through your application, they will most probably begin by looking at your formal qualifications. If you have a suitable degree and the right grades, then they will read your personal statement to decide whether you are the kind of candidate they look for.
4. Do Personal Statements Really Matters?
One way to look at a personal statement is that the admissions staff reading your personal statement is actually interested in your application – otherwise, they wouldn’t take the time to read it.
Admissions staff often use the personal statement to decide between applicants, especially if they receive many applications from students with similar qualifications.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to convince the university that you’re the right student for their Masters course and that they should offer you a place.
How much importance a university gives to the personal statement can vary. To some it matters a great deal and the university won’t make an offer to a candidate with a weak personal statement, even if their grades are good.
To others the personal statement may be something they look at but your grades matter more.
5. What Admissions Staff Want
The admissions staff reading your personal statement will want to understand your motivations for choosing to apply for the subject, course and university. Make sure to demonstrate that you have researched the course, and have realistic expectations of what it and the university can offer you.
Universities look for individuals who have a real interest in and are committed to the subject area and Masters they’re applying to.
The admissions staff will also need to assess how qualified are, and whether they should offer you a place. Use your personal statement to introduce yourself to the university – to tell them about your background, your qualifications, abilities, strengths and future aims. Let them have an idea what you may be like as Masters student.
6. Can You Apply Without A Personal Statement?
You can’t send your Masters application without a personal statement: It would be incomplete.
Similarly, if you write your personal statement in a rush, or you don’t do enough research about the Masters you’re applying to, it won’t make a good impression on the admissions staff. You risk being rejected.
Look at it this way: If you can’t dedicate the time and effort to write 1-2 pages to tell a university about yourself – what does this say what kind of Masters student you may be?
7. Can You Get Help With Your Personal Statement?
There is a great deal of Masters personal statement advice and help available.
This ranges from examples of personal statements that are published on various websites, to help proofreading your personal statement, to someone who can actually help you write your personal statement.
Remember, your personal statement is about ‘you’. It’s your opportunity to let the university hear about you – in your own words.
Whatever you do, NEVER copy someone else’s personal statement – not even a small part of it. This would be plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious reason for a university to reject your application.
Your Masters personal statement is a document that’s about one page long. Although it’s relatively short, our advice is not to underestimate the time and effort it can take to get right.
Remember, your personal statement is the only section in your Masters application where you can tell universities about your qualifications, motivations and aims – in your own words.
Use the personal statement as your chance to impress the admissions staff and convince them to choose you over other applicants.