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How to write a winning master’s personal statement

Applying for a master’s degree and want to stand out and make the best impression? Keep reading to discover how to write a personal statement that gets you noticed.

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Studying for a master’s degree can open up a world of opportunities for learners. From new research skills to opportunities to progress at work, a master’s degree can help take your knowledge of a subject to a whole new level.

Before you get to reap the many benefits a master’s has to offer, there is the small matter of your application – and the most important part of that is your personal statement. 

So, how do you write a personal statement that wins the hearts and minds of the people reading it? In this article, we’ll share our advice on length, format and structure to give you the best chance for success.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a short summary of your experience and interests in a particular role or subject. The purpose of a master’s personal statement is to show your suitability for a specific master’s degree. 

If you’ve ever studied for a degree, such as a bachelor’s, you’ll have already completed a personal statement. However, remember that as a more advanced course, the expectations for a master’s application are a little different. 

The main differences between a master’s personal statement and a bachelor’s personal statement are: 

  • Personalisation – you don’t have to personalise your undergraduate personal statement for each university. It’s vital you do this for a master’s application.
  • Depth of knowledge – when writing an undergraduate personal statement, you’re not expected to know a lot of detail about your subject. This is different at postgraduate level. Try to be as specific about your understanding of a topic as you can be.
  • Level of experience – you’ll have a lot more experience to draw on by the time you’ve applied for a master’s. Make sure you show off your most relevant professional and educational achievements and demonstrate how they’ll be useful for your studies.

How long should a master’s personal statement be?

Each university should offer specific advice on the length of your application. However, personal statements for a master’s are usually:

  • In the UK: 500 words (1 side of A4) but some universities may ask for personal statements of two sides of A4 or more.
  • In the US: 500-750 words (1-1.5 sides of A4) but this will, again, vary from university to university.

How to format a master’s personal statement 

Most personal statements are now submitted through online platforms, so you shouldn’t have to worry about formatting. 

If you do have to submit your personal statement by email or post, keep it simple. Use an easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman, in size 11-12 with double line spacing.

How to structure a master’s personal statement

As your personal statement is relatively short, make the most of the space that you have by laying out your structure first. This will make sure you cover everything your admissions reader wants to see. 

We’ve included our recommended structure for your master’s personal statement, below.

How to start a personal statement

Your introduction needs a hook so your readers want to learn more about you. 

Try to include an engaging first line that sticks in their mind. Avoid using cliche phrases like “From a young age, I…”. The people reading your application have to get through hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, and you want to make you want to stand out (for the right reasons). 

If you struggle with this at first, you can always come back to it later. It may even be easier to write once you know everything you want to put in the rest of your statement.

The main body of your personal statement

You may be tempted to include lots of experience to show how qualified you are – but try to be selective. Focus your efforts by answering the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study on this course? Keep it short and sweet. Explain your main motivation for applying and give a brief insight into your knowledge of the subject.
  • Why have you chosen this university? Many applicants forget how to talk about the university itself in their application. Show you’ve done your research by talking about specific modules or facilities in the university.
  • What relevant experience, skills & knowledge do you have? Use the main body of your personal statement to cover your most relevant experience in the subject. Include details of your undergraduate degree and any relevant professional or voluntary experience. Remember to relate each point back to your chosen course and subject.
  • What do you plan to do with your degree? Talk about your future and you’ll show the reader you’re ambitious. Explain why this degree is important to you and how it fits into your career goals.

How to end a personal statement

Close your personal statement by summarising the key points and re-emphasising the reasons why you’re suitable for this master’s course. Be positive, straight to the point and explain how your admission would benefit the university as well as yourself.

How to write a master’s personal statement: A step-by-step guide

  1. Research the course and university – look at the university website to find out and solidify what makes this course the right one for you.
  2. Pick out key areas of interest – you can’t cover everything so pick out subject areas you understand and can write about confidently.
  3. Summarise your experience and knowledge – write out all the relevant experience you have as notes. Do this before drafting your personal statement so you have a bank of examples to pick from.
  4. Structure your statement – follow our format and structure advice to answer key questions for your application. Use your research and notes to start your first draft.
  5. Draft and redraft – do this as many times as you need. Give yourself plenty of time before the deadline and always proofread your work. It’s also a good idea to get a second opinion, and get someone else to read over it.
  6. Know it inside out – if your application is successful, you may need to go into an interview so go over key information as early as possible. You want to sound passionate but also as knowledgeable and genuine as possible.

Online master’s degrees at FutureLearn

Whether you’re looking to build skills to progress in your career or simply want to learn more about a subject, FutureLearn offers a range of online master’s degrees. Start your online postgraduate learning journey today. 

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