Writing a master’s application is very similar to applications for most jobs. Generally you will complete a form with your basic details, and then write a personal statement detailing why you should be accepted.
For that reason, master’s applications should be considered as seriously as an application for a job you really want. It can be hard to know where to start, so have a look at these tips which should help you master your master’s applications.
1. Don’t be vague
If you start any sentence with ‘I feel’ in your personal statement then please delete it immediately. You need to be more concise than ‘feeling’ like this course will help you in your future career. You’re applying to spend at a least a year studying in-depth. If this master’s is for your career progression, then you need to know that this course will help you in your future career.
That’s not all: if you know that this course will get you closer to your goals, then what are they? And why does this course in particular do that? Why not any random course at any university? Make sure that you’re specific as to why you want that particular course, and what goals it will help you fulfil.
2. Check the guidelines for application
Each university and each course is going to be different, and it’s likely that they’ll want different things from applicants. For that reason, you should read the application guidelines carefully. These will most likely be on the website for the course itself, but some universities also have application packs which you should read closely before doing your application.
If the course doesn’t appear to have set guidelines, then you should just cover the information detailed below. Generally the length for a personal statement should be around 1000 words, 1500 at the most.
3. Secure funding
If you don’t already have the money to cover your fees and living costs, then securing funding is very important. There is a range of information about where to find postgraduate funding in the UK on our website. We also have a subscription to the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding which details a large number of organisations and similar that can help you.
Our blog is also regularly updated with scholarships and bursaries both for the UK and international schemes, so check to see if any of these interest you.
4. Tell them your motivations
So why do you want to do a master’s degree? To specialise in your chosen field? Like everyone else? If you don’t outline your motivation properly, then your application risks implicitly saying that you’re applying for further study because you don’t want to get a job yet.
You don’t necessarily need a concrete reason to go into further study. If you do, then amazing: detail exactly what you think the course will do for you. If not, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with learning for learning’s sake. If you want to do further study because a particular topic fascinates you, then tell them that. Tell them why it fascinates you, and tell them why your ideas around the topic are the best ones. Check out our page on why do postgraduate study? for more ideas.
5. Check your spelling and grammar
There is nothing more embarrassing than sending off your application and realising that there’s a typo in the first line. When you’ve finished your personal statement, go through it as carefully as you can to make sure that there are no mistakes or typos. Reading it out loud will also help you do this more effectively, and let you feel the rhythm of your writing to see if there is any awkward phrasing.
6. State why your experience is relevant
Unless you make the link between your previous experience and the course you’re applying for, why should the admissions team care about your application? Your undergraduate degree could have been amazing, but why does that make you a great choice to do a master’s? What modules particularly interested you or did you excel in? Why are these relevant to your chosen master’s degree?
If you have work or volunteering experience that could feed into your study then make sure you mention it as it shows both interest and action on your behalf already. For instance, if you want to study an MSc in Economics and have completed an analyst internship, then make sure that you discuss what you learnt from it that will also contribute to your course.
7. Don’t undersell your achievements
If you did really well on a project that you loved, then make sure that’s clear in the application. If you’ve gained great experience or had an amazing dissertation, don’t think that these will necessarily speak for themselves.
Your personal statement is there for the purpose of showing off these achievements. Make sure that you make the most of it, and let the admissions team know exactly how much you’ve done so far.
8. Outline other skills
Applying for a master’s may be your first step into a particular topic, so it’s possible that you haven’t spent the past ten years intellectually grooming yourself for that course. Don’t worry. Other experience is important too, as you need to demonstrate that you’re innovative, hard-working, and interested in the topic above all.
Tutors want rounded students in their department, so if you have previously been part of campus life, or have engaged in other extra-curricular activities then these will help your application too.
9. Target your goals
What’s the point of you doing a master’s degree? Are you just trying to avoid joining the real world? Of course not, but you need to make this obvious in your application.
Will this course help you take the next step towards your career goals? Or perhaps you have a great idea for a PhD thesis, and this will help you investigate that further? If so, tell them! Be specific, and let the admissions teams know exactly how this course will benefit your goals and personal advancement.
10. Let Careers help
Writing an application for anything can be a very personal endeavour, but you’re not alone. Get a first draft of your personal statement together and then book an appointment with one of our careers consultants. We can help you go through your statement, and make sure that you’re making the most of your skills and experience. Have a look at our postgraduate study pages too for more tips.
I am writing a personal statement for the MSc Accounting and Finance/Finance with Private Equity at LSE. This is my dream school.
Please can I have some feedback urgently.
Thanks in advance
"You must submit a personal statement which should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. It should describe your academic interests and your purpose and objectives in undertaking graduate study.
If you are applying for two programmes please ensure that your personal statement addresses why you are applying for each programme. In the case where your two programme choices are unrelated, you may submit two personal statements - they should be clearly headed within a single document."
Today's post-recession era has been extremely cruel to aspiring graduates looking to launch a career in the Capital Markets; especially to candidates who haven't got degrees from the 'Top six' Universities. This is however the reality that we all face and my Coefficient of Determination ' ' (please see appendix) would/may prove this theory. This is my second time of applying to study at LSE - first application (2012): MSc Finance - albeit with a slight variation in my new first choice (MSc Accounting and Finance) and second choice (MSc Finance with Private Equity). In short, thank you for rejecting me. The rejection was a real eye opener into what is expected cognitively, intellectually, and practically from capital market participants from time zero.
However, my underlying reasons and motivations for seeking out a career in financial services stems from a passion and interest in unearthing alphas relative to proposed benchmarks. My long term career goal is to combine fundamental and quantitative analysis effectively by becoming a Quantitative Equities Analyst. I believe that returns can be exploited effectively from both combinations - Quants: through mechanisms such as Multi-Linear Regression, Time Series Analysis, Correlation, helping to predict returns and relationships - and - Fundamentally: via reclassification and adjustments to Operating expense that impact EBIT for example, cash flow projections characterised by strong past earnings growth and a combination of low levels of inflation.
My post-graduation knowledge has been fuelled by taking on the IMC- Level 4, and CFA (Level 1 I passed at the first attempt, and I am currently a Level 2 candidate), as well as my nine months experience working at Capital Partners as a Trainee Analyst. I gained practical analytical skills from analysing small capital stocks with a maximum market capitalisation of £10m for their risk and liquidity characteristics. Whilst my work was essentially passed onto more senior analysts, my contribution helped to streamline and increase efficiency of the end-to-end user process, with the main aim being the inclusion of the stocks in client portfolios. My experience further reinforced the importance of team work, prioritising time, and the magnitude of a healthy work-life balance which I intend to continue whilst I study for a Post-graduate degree. Furthermore, the fast paced, pressurised environment I experienced provided me with the opportunity to work on large data sets using Excel and Morningstar (forecasting potential clients' portfolio cash flows) re-powered my interest in finance which was developed by my decision to study Business with Finance for my Undergraduate degree.
I had three core motivations for studying Business Management with Finance at Undergraduate level. I wanted to understand the macro-economic (inflation, real GDP, Foreign Currency appreciation/depreciation and its impact on exports, imports, and consolidated financial statements) and micro (internal influences such as Managerial capability, Internal risks that may crystallise, for example Operational risk, employees performance and circumstances that may boost or affect this) factors firms encounter and operate in, and how all these factors impact upon the stock performance and perceptions of investors, and other capital markets participants. Secondly, I wanted exposure to accounting (Management Accounting to be specific) and statistical concepts, and lastly, I was partly influenced by my Dad who is a Chartered Accountant (retired Chevron employee), a man whom I very much admire for his high level approach to his field or practice.
I may have come across as scripted, but I can assure you this is not the case. I am just a simple individual who after a few years of absence from education - gaining a commercial exposure of the business world through most all of my early-to-mid twenties - has finally found myself, my passion, and I am absolutely committed to realising my goals and objectives, through a short -term five year plan, medium term ten year plan, and a long-term twenty year plan. I am now officially in Phase two - my medium term plan - and I believe that LSE will be the instrumental fulcrum for both my personal professional success and personal relationships I would forge.
Significantly, my rationale for applying originate from my interest in studying topics such as 'Applied Valuation Techniques', 'Financial Engineering', 'Financial Reporting, Capital Markets, and Business Combinations', 'Private Equity', and 'Topics in Portfolio Management'. These topics underpin my career goal of becoming a successful Quantitative Equities Research Analyst as well as complementing my personality as an individual with a more than average appetite for risk adjusted for a given level of premium and expected return. Specifically, I am fascinated by the Active Management theory of Portfolio Management, Asset Allocation, Portfolio Optimization, Mean-Variance Analysis/Treynor-Black Model, and Active Returns achieved from Portfolio factor tilts and a Manager's skill in terms of picking securities included in client portfolios, in correlation with a sound understanding of Behavioural Finance.
On the other hand, I thoroughly find Private Equity stimulating. The concept of investing in privately-owned companies and the challenges faced by analysts in finding comparable companies in order to perform Market-based approach for instance, or the normalisation of earnings component of financial statements - that may not be available due to non-existing laws by International Accounting Standards or relevant regulators enforcing such publications - were initially introduced to me through the CFA Level 2 curriculum. Whilst I credit the CFA Institute for the invigorating theoretical learning exposure, I believe in order to further expand and achieve a more comprehensive, well-rounded understanding in relation to further advanced topics such as Leverage Buyouts, as well as the technical knowledge to build models relating to it, I would have to study the course under the guidance and tutoring of respected academics with a history of excellence, and record for administering robust Masters' programmes. I sincerely have confidence that my journey towards uncovering alphas or perhaps returns not explained by the CAPM (although this is more relevant to Public Companies) in the Private Equity realm could effectively start October, 2014 at LSE.
On a personal note, I believe I can contribute towards the programmes I have elected to study via my dedication, determination, and commitment. I was a member of a few societies while I was at University, as well as presently being part of a ten-man strong investment finance group comprising of good friends and colleagues from Renaissance Capital, Nubuke Investments, Exotix etc. where topics such as issues influencing Emerging Market returns, the return of the Developed Markets etc. are discussed. I hope to continue in this fashion and participate in different existing groups and societies, perhaps even establishing a new society with the permission of the University of course, if I am given admission. I would also like to share my experiences and optimistic, open-minded personality with other LSE students. I have an embedded determined attitude in that I never give up on comprehending concepts which may seem arduous at first, because I believe I must excel during adverse and challenging educational and life phases in order to continually lay foundations for a stronger future. I am of the belief that the LSE MSc program may not always produce all the answers I need or seek, but I will learn to adapt to find them when these situations arises.
The opportunity to study MSc Accounting and Finance or MSc Finance with Private Equity at London School of Economics will further develop and build upon my existing knowledge because of the environment and intellectual ethos LSE fosters, as well as the international and well diversified environment on offer where social and intellectual challenges are present, thus further developing and enhancing my analytical and logical mind-set. I cannot reiterate enough what admission into LSE to study Accounting and Finance, or my closely-aligned second choice - MSc Finance with Private Equity - would mean, or even begin to quantify the magnitude of a favourable decision. In other words, my chosen course of study is my gateway towards career enhancement and fulfilment, and I am of the firm belief that LSE is where I would be nurtured and elevated into a different class due to the facilities, distinct quality of teaching, intelligent and well diversified students carefully selected by this highly respectable institution; all powerful elements and reasons for my application to study at LSE. Not only would I be studying in the heart of London, effectively providing good links with the financial world, I would also be equipped with the indispensable (technical) tools and theoretical knowledge, as well as exposure to like-minded individuals who are passionate about their future careers, thereby allowing for the exchange of ideas and views that could only be beneficial for all parties.
Ultimately, I have a dream - to be respected by my peers and colleagues for my dedication to the Capital Markets via my ethical approach, my potent dedication to my field, my independent ability to think subjectively, and my interactions and conduct of clients, colleagues (both junior and senior), capital market participants and other professionals. This dream I hope to realise through hard work, discipline, and commitment to my short term and long term goals. I honestly want to reflect upon my career after retirement with content and happiness, knowing I exercised all available opportunities and resources that I was presented by God, Universities and Business Schools, Bosses, and the financial backing of my icon and role model - my father.
In concluding, I want to thank the Admission's tutor for taking his or her time to consider my application, and I hope the information I have relayed would be sufficient in demonstrating my academic ability, and my enthusiasm to be a part of your prestigious academic institution as a Masters student.