Your Masters personal statement is an essential part of your postgraduate application as it's this document that will convince admissions tutors that you're worthy of a place on a course. Discover how to write a Masters personal statement and take a look at some examples for inspiration

What is a personal statement?

A Masters personal statement is a piece of writing that you submit as part of your聽postgraduate application. It's your first real chance to sell yourself to the university and to demonstrate to admissions tutors that you're right for the course.

It's likely that you've already written a聽personal statement for your Bachelors degree, so this should give you some idea of what to expect. However, don't be tempted to use your undergraduate personal statement as a template. You will have progressed academically since then and admissions tutors will want to see evidence of this.

Your postgraduate personal statement should be unique and tailored to the course that you're applying to. Use the opportunity to show off your academic interests and abilities, and to demonstrate that the programme will benefit from your attendance as much as you'll benefit from studying it.

'Personal statements have a two-way function in the application process,' explains Steve Carruthers, head of postgraduate admissions and student visa compliance at the University of East Anglia (UEA). 'They are critical to demonstrating the student is right for the course, showing their experience, knowledge, background and personality, as well as their interest in the subject. They also enable the admissions team to ensure the selected course is the best fit for the student's aspirations and goals, or to make alternate recommendations to ensure all options have been equally considered.'

How long should a postgraduate personal statement be?

A Masters personal statement should be around 500 words. This equates to one side of A4. However, some universities require more, often two sides. Some institutions also set a character limit instead of a specific word count, so it's important that you check the application guidelines before starting to write your statement.

As they're relatively short, don't waste words on autobiographical information. This isn't necessary in postgraduate personal statements. Instead, focus on why you want to study a particular programme and your potential to successfully complete the course.

What should I include in a Masters personal statement?

'The statement is a snapshot of who you are聽 and why you've chosen your course, so include everything that helps an academic or admissions team see that clearly,' advises Steve.

You should tailor your personal statement to fit the course you're applying for, so what to include will largely depend on the course requirements. However, in general you should write about:

  • Your reasons for applying for a particular programme and why you deserve a place above other candidates聽- 'demonstrate your interest and passion for the course and subject. This tells admissions staff you're more likely to fully engage in your studies,' says Steve. Discuss your academic interests, career goals and the university and department's reputation, and write about which aspects of the course you find most appealing, for example particular modules or work experience opportunities. Show that you're ready for the demands of postgraduate life by demonstrating your knowledge and experience.
  • Your preparation聽- address how undergraduate study has prepared you for a postgraduate course, mentioning your independent work (e.g. dissertation) and topics that most interested you.
  • Evidence of your skillset聽- 'show your writing skills, intellect and ability to succeed academically, as well as the effect and impact you may have on the cohort as a leader, influencer, or enthusiastic team member,' adds Steve. Highlight relevant skills and knowledge that will enable you to make an impact on the department, summarising your abilities in core areas including IT, numeracy, organisation, communication, time management and critical thinking. You can also cover any grades, awards, work placements, extra readings or conferences that you've attended and how these have contributed to your readiness for Masters study.
  • Your goals聽- 'Your long-term plans and aspirations are also important to cover, as they both help ensure you've selected the best course to achieve these, but also give the academic team an understanding of how they might best support you through your studies,' says Steve.

Address any聽 weaknesses, such as lower-than-expected module performance in your undergraduate degree or gaps in your education history. The university will want to know about these, so explain them with a positive spin. Cover how these gaps and weaknesses have been addressed and what will be different in your聽 postgraduate studies.

How should I structure my personal statement?

Your personal statement should follow a logical, methodical structure, where each paragraph follows on from the one before. Make sure paragraphs are short, succinct, clear and to the point. Remember, you only have 500 words so use them wisely.

Capture the reader's attention with an enthusiastic introduction covering why you want to study a particular Masters. Then, engage the reader in your middle paragraphs by summing up your academic and employment background, evidencing your knowledge and skills and demonstrating why the course is right for you.

Your conclusion should be concise, summarising why you're the ideal candidate. Overall, aim for five or six paragraphs. You can use headings to break up the text if you prefer.

The majority of postgraduate applications are submitted online directly to the university. If this is the case, present your personal statement in a standard font such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, text size 11 or 12. If your course application is submitted through UKPASS (UCAS's postgraduate application service) font style won't matter, as personal statements are automatically formatted.

How can I write a good postgraduate personal statement?

  • Give yourself plenty of time and don't rush. Your personal statement can make or break your application so it needs to be right. Tutors can tell if you're bluffing, and showing yourself up as uninformed could be costly. Before you start, read the rules and guidelines provided, check the selection criteria and research the course and institution.
  • Use AI tools responsibly - 'Remember, this is a 'personal' statement, so make sure it's all about you,' stresses Steve. 'Using AI such as ChatGTP or Google Bard to generate a statement may be easier, but generalised statements that miss out you, your personality and experiences will never be as effective. Personal stories and experiences really bring your statement to life, and this is one of those times it's ok to talk boldly about all you've achieved, and your qualities.'
  • 聽Adopt a positive, enthusiastic and professional tone and write in clear, short sentences. Avoid elaborate or overly complicated phrases. Unless otherwise stated, all postgraduate personal statements should be written in English and your spelling, grammar and punctuation must be spot on, as the personal statement acts as a test of your written communication skills..
  • Don't use the same supporting statement for every course. Admissions tutors can spot copy-and-paste jobs. Generic applications demonstrate that you have little understanding of the course. In order to stand out from the crowd, Masters personal statements must be unique and specific to the course and institution.
  • Draft and redraft your statement until you're happy. Then ask a friend, family member or careers adviser to read it. Proofreading is incredibly important to avoid mistakes. Memorise what you've written before any interviews.

What do I need to avoid?

Don't:

  • follow online examples too closely, use them as a guide only
  • use your undergraduate UCAS application as a template
  • be negative
  • lie or exaggerate
  • use clich茅s, gimmicks, humour, over-used words such as 'passion' or Americanisms
  • include inspirational quotes
  • make pleading/begging statements
  • needlessly flatter the organisation
  • include irrelevant course modules, personal facts or extra-curricular activities
  • use overly long sentences
  • repeat information found elsewhere in your application
  • waffle
  • leave writing your personal statement to the last minute.

How should I start my Masters personal statement?

Steve believes there is no right way to start a personal statement so try not to waste too much time coming up with a catchy opening. The more you try, the more contrived you'll sound and the more likely you are to fall into the trap of using clich茅s. 'A good rule of thumb is to make it interesting, personal (avoiding bland generalisms) and enthusiastic for your choice of study.鈥

'Your opening lines could include how your current interests (we're less interested in you as a six year old) have led you to apply for this course, and how you see it helping you achieve both your full potential and future aspirations,' says Steve.

Avoid using overused phrases, such as:

  • For as long as I can remember鈥
  • From a young age鈥
  • I am applying for this course because鈥
  • Throughout my life I have always enjoyed鈥
  • I have always been interested in鈥
  • I have always been passionate about鈥
  • I have always wanted to pursue a career in鈥
  • Reflecting on my educational experiences鈥

Admissions tutors read hundreds of applications per course so the opening paragraph of your personal statement needs to get straight to the point and make a real impact. Avoid overkill statements, gimmicks and popular quotes.

If you're really struggling, come back and tackle the opening once you have written the rest.

How should I end my personal statement?

Conclusions should be short, sharp and memorable, and leave no doubt in an admissions tutor's mind that you deserve a place on a course.

The perfect ending should pull all of your key points together without waffling or repeating yourself.

Like the rest of your Masters personal statement, keep the ending simple. Be succinct and make it clear why you'll be an asset to the university and end on a positive note, with a statement about why the institution would be lucky to have you as a student.

What are admissions tutors聽looking for?

'Passion for the subject, and an understanding of the key challenges and problems it's currently facing, as well as the research being undertaken to solve these or to move the field forwards, really endears you to the academics who you'll be interacting with,' explains Steve.

'Strong writing skills are a gift, so be clear and concise about what you want to say, and always get a second pair of eyes to check spelling and grammar as well as readability.'

Make sure you also provide:

  • an explanation of how the course links your past and future
  • an insight into your academic and non-academic abilities, and how they'll fit with the course
  • evidence of your skills, commitment and enthusiasm
  • knowledge of the institution's area of expertise
  • reasons why you want to study at the institution.

Personal statement examples

The style and content of your postgraduate personal statement depends on several variables, such as the type of qualification that you're applying for - such as a聽Masters degree, a conversion course 辞谤听teacher training. Here are some postgraduate personal statement templates to help you get started:

Business management personal statement

Postgraduate courses in business management are popular among graduates. To make your application stand out your personal statement needs to cover your motivations for choosing a specific course at a particular university, your career goals and how the Masters will help you achieve them. Be sure to mention relevant transferrable skills and work experience. Read up on management courses.

Computer science personal statement

If you'd like to complete a Masters but studied an unrelated subject at undergraduate level you'll need to explain why you'd like to change disciplines. In the case of computer science your personal statement will need to show that you possess the technical, mathematical and analytical skills necessary, as well as demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area. Gain an insight into the information technology sector.

Law personal statement

You'll apply for an LLM the same way you would for any other Masters, directly to the university. Whether you're undertaking a general LLM or a more specific programme, such as an LLM in human rights or international business law, you'll need to convey why you want to study the law in more depth and how this could potentially aid your career. Discover more about LLM degrees.

Nursing personal statement

If you didn't study the subject at undergraduate level but you'd like to apply for a postgraduate course in nursing your personal statement needs to convey your reasons for choosing this career path, as well as demonstrate a specific set of skills, knowledge of the working environment and relevant 聽experience. Find out more about working as an adult or children's nurse.

Psychology personal statement

Applications for conversion courses such as these are fairly straightforward and made directly to individual institutions. You need to explain why you want to change subjects and how your current subject will help you. Explain what experience you have that will help with your conversion subject, and what you hope to do in the future. Learn more about聽psychology conversion courses.

Social work personal statement

If your Bachelors degree was in an unrelated subject but you now have ambitions to work as a social worker you'll need a Masters in social work (MSW) to qualify. Social work Masters have a substantial work placement element so you'll need to cover what you hope to achieve during this time as well as demonstrate other relevant experience. Find out more about social work courses.

PGCE primary personal statement

As well as detailing why you want to work with this particular age group, a PGCE primary personal statement should highlight the ways in which your educational background has inspired you to teach. You'll need to cover relevant skills you have gained and any related work experience, as well as demonstrate your knowledge of the primary national curriculum. Read up on PGCEs.

PGCE secondary personal statement

You'll need to cover why you want to teach at secondary level while also acknowledging the pressures and challenges of working with older pupils. As you'll be teaching a specific subject, you'll need to evidence your knowledge in this area and demonstrate how your first degree was relevant. It's also essential to highlight any related work or voluntary experience. Learn more about teaching personal statements.

Find out more

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