Every student must ask themselves what the Entry Requirements for Postgraduate Students for their chosen school or program.
There are a variety of factors that help schools make their decision on who they will choose to attend their postgraduate program. A few examples of these requirements are your formal education qualification skills and your mastery of the English language. Other requirements can be created to the universities discretion. Most postgraduate programs have quotas, which are the maximum applicants who can join a program at any given time. This number depends largely on the number of resources and teaching staff made available to the school. Another important factor is the statement you submit along with your application.
Also keep in mind that your entry depends on the school’s ability to meet your specialist needs. Doctoral candidates must depend on whether or not the department you’ve applied to has a staff member available who can oversee your research. A few of the other entry factors are listed below.
Postgraduate entry requirements: Academic qualifications
No matter what program for postgraduate school you plan on applying to you must make sure you have a Bachelor’s degree before doing so. If you plan on getting a Doctorate you must also make sure to receive a Master’s degree.
All countries have their own individual education system, each with its own quirks. A main issue among schools is the title of individual degrees varies between countries. In some ways academic qualification can be viewed as a currency – it has to be acceptable in the country you want to spend it at.
Typically, when a UK school says they want a good Bachelor’s degree before you can get in a Master’s program they’re saying they need to see a degree from an accredited UK program or from an esteemed school in another country. You must know whether or not your degree is seen as the British equivalent. The two individual parts to this are listed below.
First, the level of your qualification is equal to British Bachelor’s degree at a higher level. Next, is the quality of your achievement in that area.
Most countries use Grade Point Averages to assess their students. However, in Britain schools use a degree classification system. This means that degrees are awarded to students under the following circumstances:
- First class honours degrees are considered to be the highest level of academic achievement. You must receive a mark of at least 70% to receive this.
- Upper second-class honours degrees require marks of at least 60%.
- Lower second-class honours degrees represent marks of 50%.
- Third class honours degrees represent overall marks of 40%.
- Pass degrees represent overall marks of 35%.
Typically, to be accepted into a Master’s degree program you must have a mark of at least a lower second class honors degree. For the more competitive programs you will need to have the upper second-class honors degree. For entry into a doctoral program you must have a Master’s degree already but, some students who have extraordinarily high Bachelor’s degrees are sometimes also accepted.
For a more thorough explanation, refer to the book Postgraduate study in the UK by Nicholas and Rosalind Foskett.
Not all postgraduate programs require both professional experience and qualifications. Some fields such as medicine, education, social work or business require for you to have between 2 to 5 years of professional experience before you enter a master’s program. This is in large part because the program is focused on practice and is considered to be a higher degree.
English language expertise
All UK degree programs are taught in English. This basically means you must have a thorough understanding of the language to follow the program – you must be able to read academic literature and write your assignments in English. Listed below are four of the indicators that let one know if they have a deep understanding of the language.
- If you come from a primarily English-speaking country
- If you finished your first degree at an English-speaking school
- If you interview for a program and can show your English skills are above par
- If you have a qualification in the English language that meets the school’s standards.
Most applicants find that the fourth method is the best way for them to show their understanding of English. Every school has their own standards so it’s up to you to find out exactly what those standards are. There are also a few standards that are considered common among most schools. These standards ate the minimum levels achieved in a recognised test of English ability.
For more, refer to the book Postgraduate study in the UK.
A good personal statement
Generally when you apply for a postgraduate program you need to fill out an application form for every school. Most schools require for you to fill out a personal statement that states why you chose to apply for the course in the first place. It’s very important to make sure that you differentiate your statement from that of other individuals and give it the attention that it’s due. This is because it will be read by the admissions tutor for the program you want to attend.
In this statement you will have to show that you have a good academic record, are motivated, organized and above all hard working. It’s a very good way to show the admissions tutor your standard of written English. Listed below are the things you want to include in this statement.
- Academic achievements
- Academic interests
- Your reason for applying to the program
- What you plan on contributing to the program
- If applying to a master’s program, list possible dissertation ideas
Make sure that what you write is your best work. Write and re-write it constantly to make sure it’s top-notch.
As with any application you’ll have to include a list of references who can support your position to attend the university. Before you list anyone make sure to check the school’s method for organizing references.
A major setback to the application process is the submission of references too late by referees. For this reason it helps to ask your reference well in advance for a reference – this allows them to have something prepared when you need it. If you already know one of your referees won’t be available when you need a reference you should probably ask someone else.
Who to go to for a reference you ask? References must be people who can refer to your academic prowess and achievements. A common practice is to choose professors from the university you received your bachelor’s degree from.
It’s always a good idea to use a referee from a university you attended, even if it’s been a long time since you’ve last been in school. Referees need to be individuals who have an understanding of your skill level and can state whether or not you’ll be able to handle the pressures of higher education. Some people choose to use their employer as a referee, especially if they’re a senior professional and has attended higher education themselves. It’s never a good idea to use personal relationships as referees though – mainly because their judgement won’t be viewed as being objective.
A good research proposal
For most academic disciplines, application to a research program means that you’re applying to take on a research project that your department has already chosen for you. A proposal for a research project is basically an outline on what you plan to research and typically includes:
- A suggested title for the research
- A bit of background and context that explains why your topic is important for research
- An example of the research methodology used and how the work will be organized. You also want to include a bit of the data you will collect, how you will collect it and how you plan on analyzing the outcome.
Research proposals range from 1000-1200 words length-wise. The book Postgraduate Study in the UK goes a bit more in depth on the entire process.