How to apply
The application process for graduate courses, unlike undergraduate courses, is not centralised, so you will have to apply directly to the department or university that offers the course you are interested in studying. The application process can take longer for international students, which is why it is important to be well informed about what is expected from you to ensure your application is successful. The application deadline for most graduate schools is in February/March at the latest, so the earlier you start, the better your chances of being admitted.
The websites of the universities and colleges you wish to attend should have a section for international students. In this section, you will find detailed information about how to submit an application for admission, including any special instructions or additional information required for international students. Contact the university and ask them to send you information or ask to speak to the admissions tutor for your course.
If you are sure you want to pursue graduate studies abroad, do your research early. It can take some time to complete the application process so the sooner you contact universities, the better. For graduate studies in the US, the recommended time to begin contacting universities is 12 months before you plan to enrol.
Application forms themselves vary from country to country and institution to institution. Generally speaking, you will be required to submit the following:
- Personal details – name, address, contact etc.
- Fee status – who will be paying your tuition fees.
- Course details – course name, order of preference if you are applying for more than one course, year of entry and mode of study.
- Educational qualifications - this will include final degree, any diploma certificates and examinations results. (In some cases, more detailed records of the subjects studied at degree level and annual examination results will be required.)
- Where you have studied – most recent institutions you have attended including universities and/or secondary school.
- Referee/reference – this could be academic (e.g. a previous tutor),personal, or both. This section will ask for the referee's contact details, occupation and relationship to yourself as well as their statement.
- Application fee – expect to pay an administration charge for your application.
Your application form may also ask for the following:
- Personal statement – some universities will want to know more about you as an individual and your potential contribution to the university.
If your native language isn't that of the language of instruction, you will need to pass a test to show you are proficient in that language. An example of this would be the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), which is administered all over the world.
Some institutions and countries may ask you to take a test that relates to the subject you wish to study.
An applicant may also be required to pass a more generic test that is not related to a particular field of study. This type of test will measure an applicant's skills and abilities in areas such as verbal reasoning, critical thinking and analytical writing. An example of this kind of test is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which is required for admission to masters programmes in America.
You are exempt from an English test if English is your mother tongue or if English was your language of instruction at university for at least three years.
Unfortunately, these admissions tests are for the most part required to admit of all foreign students. The most important thing to remember is not to get too worked up about them. The results of these tests are only one element of your application. Admissions officers will be more interested in your academic accomplishments and personality than in the results of these.
Wait and see
Once the Admissions Office has received your application and all additional documents, test results and application fees, your complete file will be sent to the department or faculty responsible for your course where the decision on your application will be made. This can be done only when all supporting documentation has been received. If the university requires more information, they will contact you directly.
The length of time the university takes to receive and make a decision on your application for graduate study will vary. Once a decision has been made, you will be notified in writing.
The general requirements for admission to a masters programme are:
- A relevant bachelors degree or equivalent based on a programme of sufficient academic level and quality to be able to complete the masters degree course you intend to pursue.
- GPA: You are expected to obtain an average of 70% or higher of the available marks in your bachelor programme;
- Sufficient funds at your disposal to finance your studies
- Compliance with extra admission conditions. Some programmes have extra admission conditions, in addition to these more general requirements. Where this is the case, these conditions are specified in the programme profile.
- To be considered for admission to a master's programme, applicants must submit a completed application form which can be found on the school's website.
- Certain programmes demand that applicants pass the GMAT test.
For applicants who are not native English speakers and/or who have not completed all their secondary and tertiary education in English, several tests will be mandatory for some/most programmes, such as IELTS, TOEFL.
You are expected to submit one of the following test results:
- IELTS: 7.0 or higher;
- TOEFL: paper-based: 600 or higher;
- TOEFL: computer-based: 250 or higher;
- TOEFL: internet-based: 101 or higher;;
- another test result that is generally considered to be the equivalent of level C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference.
A Recipe for Success
Well-timed preparation for admission is the key to successful entry into grad school. There is a lot that should be done beforehand, but if you set your mind to it you can complete the application process in a month.