Writing a convincing master’s personal statement is the key to a successful application. The personal statement is where you sell yourself. It’s also your chance to show the admissions tutors that you are the perfect candidate. In short, it’s one of the most important documents you will ever write. So read on for our guide to writing a personal statement that succeeds.
Before you start writing
All institutions will provide guidelines for master’s applications. Read them carefully, and make sure that you meet the selection criteria. Don’t waste your time applying for a course that you aren’t eligible for. Take some time to read about the course and the institution. This will help you decide whether they are right for you. While you’re reading, make notes on how your skills, experience, and interests will benefit the university.
Finally, check the word limit. Some institutions set a limit of 500 words for master’s personal statements. Your application may be rejected if you exceed the limit, so write a plan. This will help you to structure your personal statement, and make sure you don’t miss out any important information.
Structure and content
When you write your personal statement, your thoughts should flow smoothly. To improve readability, make sure you link every paragraph. The word count will vary between courses, but keep things as short as possible. As a rough guide, aim to write 4-5 paragraphs for a personal statement of 500 words. We recommend sticking to the following structure:
Writing the introduction to your master’s personal statement can be tough. Ironically, the more stressed you get about your introduction, the harder it can be to write. So if you get stuck, move on to another section. You can always come back to it later.
You need an opening paragraph that has impact, but avoids clichés. Institutions receive hundreds of applications per course, and admissions tutors have to read all of them. They much prefer introductions that get straight to the point.
In this section you need to provide evidence of your skills and knowledge. You also get the chance to show why you are the right candidate for the course. As a general rule, admissions tutors will be looking for the following information:
- Why you are applying for this course and this institution – Display some knowledge of the university and the department. Focus on their reputation, achievements, and area of expertise. Then, link these to your academic interests to show why the course appeals to you.
- Your goals and aspirations – State your career goals. Then, describe how gaining a place on the course will help you reach them.
- Your skills and experience – Highlight how your skills and knowledge will benefit the work of the department. To do this, try grouping your abilities into key areas., such as communication, leadership, organisation, critical thinking, and research. At this point, mention any awards you’ve received. And don’t forget to highlight any work placements and conferences you’ve attended. All of this will provide further evidence of your suitability for master’s study.
- Why YOU deserve a place – Explain how your undergraduate experiences have prepared you for the realities of postgraduate life. You’ll need to demonstrate your passion for the subject. Then, you’ll need to prove that your skills, commitment, and enthusiasm make you a perfect fit for the course. And remember to mention your non-academic abilities and interests – these can be a great way to show why you will be an asset to the university.
The conclusion of your personal statement is just as important as the introduction. Again, keep things short and simple, summarising your strengths and key points. Your goal is to leave the admissions tutors with no room for doubt that you are the perfect candidate.
Some quick do’s and don’ts:
DO give yourself plenty of time to complete your master’s personal statement. DON’T leave it to the last minute.
DO write a memorable personal statement. DON’T use humour and over-used quotes.
DO be positive. DON’T be negative about other institutions.
DO mention relevant research and relate it to the subject. DON’T name-drop key authors without context.
DO explain any lower-than-expected grade, or gaps in your education. DON’T gloss over these.
DO sell yourself and your abilities. DON’T beg and plead.
DO use clear, short sentences. DON’T use overly-long phrases and sentences.
DO include relevant academic and personal information. DON’T repeat information, or include irrelevant details.
DO highlight your skills, knowledge and experience. DON’T lie or exaggerate.
DO write an original personal statement that is specific to the course and institution. DON’T use the same supporting statement for all the courses you apply to.
DO make sure that your spelling, grammar and punctuation are perfect. DON’T submit your master’s personal statement without proofreading it.
If you need help with your personal statement, contact us today. Wordsmiths can proofread and edit any of your application documents. To find out more, email us, chat direct via our website, or message us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our July blog for more advice on completing your master’s application. And don’t forget to subscribe to our emails to receive our latest posts.