Write a killer Postgraduate Application

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The application for your postgraduate course is not something that should be taken lightly, and must be afforded the proper consideration and time. Academic qualifications are obviously very important but they are not the only factor you need to take into account when applying for that postgraduate course. You are creating a ‘selling document’ and need to include extra-curricular and personal strengths which prove your suitability for the programme. We’ve compiled a few helpful tips for you to write that a killer postgraduate application.

Good grades

Different courses obviously have different entry requirements but for most taught postgraduate programmes leading to a Masters or higher, an honours degree is a pre-requisite. Particularly competitive courses require a first or a minimum of 2:1, but a 2:2 is also accepted for a wide range of courses. For postgraduate diplomas or certificates, an undergraduate degree is not normally required. Almost all postgraduate applications are now handled through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC) (Include link here to www.pac.ie), but make sure you check directly with the institution.

Plan your workload

The most effective way of approaching your application is to look at it as a project, and like any project, it is made up of different component parts. Read each part of the application carefully and take on one section at a time and remain focused on it. Jot down your ideas on paper as you go through each section before you start typing, it’s a good way of organising and collecting your thoughts. Also, write down the names of who you could ask for advice or to provide a reference.

Be prepared

A well-prepared postgraduate application will display knowledge of the institution you are applying to and the course you are applying for. You may be asked to provide a personal statement displaying your suitability for this avenue of study. Your application will need to be original and honestly reflect your ambitions, interests, and suitability for the course. Don’t try and match your application or statement to the course by using the course description from the prospectus in your writing. Do your research and see what other institutions offer; then refer to what makes the course you have chosen stand out. What are the unique aspects and why do they appeal to you? Is there a specialised course module or do you prefer the structure of the course? Give as much detail as you can. Then highlight your specific achievements and relevant accomplishments in support of your application. Show that you have done your homework, and if you’ve visited the college or spoken to students or alumni from the course then mention that too. It’s all about portraying yourself as a capable and well-prepared candidate for the course.

Show off your abilities

In addition, to your academic scores, postgraduate admissions personnel are also interested in your relevant soft skills and how you measure up in terms of vital collaborative abilities such as leadership, critical thinking and the ability to manage your own learning. Of course, no matter what evidence you have, all of it will be redundant if you don’t portray it in engaging, clear, well-structured writing. When it comes to grammar and punctuation, don’t leave anything to chance. Read, re-read, edit and get someone else to read it too.

Make your network work for you

Make use of the supports around you, especially your careers service. If you’re applying for a postgrad in the same institution that you did your undergraduate degree, you will have very good supports. Utilise the careers advisor there and the wealth of knowledge they have on the subject; it is their job to assist you in providing feedback on applications, even after you graduate.

Plug that CV

If you’re a mature student, you may be eligible for the course as a result of your working or professional experiences. It’s important that you are able to illustrate your diverse professional and life skills in terms of their relevance to your chosen course. Bear in mind the competitive nature of any postgraduate application and think about how you can best demonstrate your relevance and suitability.

International students

This is a massive and growing market, and an important economic generator for third-level institutions. If you’re an international student from outside the EU, it’s best to allow more time for your application. Get as much information as you can from your institution and careers service and consider technical questions such as VISA extensions, costs and whether you are eligible for any international scholarships or funding. Check with your embassy about any possible supports too.

Part-time study

If you’re considering doing a course on a part-time basis, don’t underestimate the amount of work that will be involved in order for you to make a success of it. Admissions personnel will be looking for you to convey your genuine enthusiasm for the course and how you will be able to manage your time in order to contribute properly.


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