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How to apply for a Master's: a step-by-step guide

By Anna Brown
Apply-for-a-Master's-degree

A Master’s degree can help you refine your career goals as you immerse yourself in a subject you're passionate about. You’ll develop skills highly valued by employers in your chosen discipline and apply your ideas and experience to your studies.

If that sounds like the next step you want to take, read on to find out how to apply for a taught Master’s course, how you can access help with your application, and what happens once you’ve secured an offer.

Choose your course

If you’ve done your research and know the university you want to attend and the course you want to apply for, you’re already on your way to a successful application.

If not, while you’re deciding, make sure you compare degrees using the course detail available on university websites. Refer to the detailed module outlines, subject facilities, entrance requirements, and fees and funding opportunities to make sure you choose the course that’s right for you.

You can explore our courses and start to get a feel for what it’s like to study with us here.

Check the entry requirements

Entry requirements can differ not just between institutions, but also between courses at the same university, so remember to check these carefully.

As a guide, at Newcastle the minimum entry requirement for the majority of our taught Masters’ courses is an upper-second-class Honours degree (2:1) or international equivalent.

Some courses accept a 2:2 Honours degree or equivalent and we also welcome applications from professionals with significant work experience. If you’re an international student you can search by country for the equivalent international qualifications we accept.

If English is not your first language, you’ll also need to show you’ve reached a certain standard of English – both to succeed on your chosen programme and to meet visa requirements to study in the UK.

You’ll need to supply an IELTS, TOEFL IBT, Pearson PTE score or equivalent, but entry requirements can vary across programmes so, again, check your chosen course.

Further information about our English Language Requirements for postgraduate study is also available here.

Studying at Master’s level

Most Masters’ courses are full-time and take place from September to September. Learning is fast-paced and thought-provoking, driven by real-world application, cutting-edge research and your own interests.

Depending on the subject, teaching is delivered via a range of lectures, seminars, group projects, lab-based sessions, technical skills development, and practical experiments.

When to apply for a Master’s degree

It’s worth applying as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of securing a place, and any available funding for your course. If you’re an international student you’ll also need to factor in time to make the necessary arrangements to travel to the UK.

There are no official closing dates for applications to the majority of postgraduate courses, but be warned – there can be cut-off points if you want to be considered for  funding.

How to apply for a Master’s degree

Unlike undergraduate applications which are handled by UCAS, the majority of postgraduate students apply direct to a university. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so check the application process for each institution carefully.

If you’re applying to study at Newcastle, you’ll need to register via our secure applicant portal where you’ll be prompted to set up an account.

Once you’ve started your application, you can save and update it as many times as you like before submitting, but when you do submit, make sure you also upload your supporting documents.

You’ll need to include:

  • academic transcripts to confirm your degree or your progress and results to date
  • degree certificate, if your previous degree has been awarded
  • a copy of the photograph page of your passport
  • a copy of your English language test results, such as an IELTS, TOEFL IBT, Pearson PTE score or equivalent, if required
  • certified translations if your documents are not in English

You’ll also have to provide details of your referees, and write a personal statement showcasing your ambition, skills, and passion for your chosen programme. This is also your chance to highlight what makes you a good candidate for postgraduate study and you can access top tips from our award-winning Careers Service on how to write a stand-out statement.

If you need help completing your application, check out our step-by-step guide. We also work with education agents across the world, so if you’re an international student and need some support with your application, find your nearest agent, here.

After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll be able to view real-time updates via our portal. Further information about applying to us is also available, here.

Understanding your offer

Once we’ve received and considered your application, a formal letter will be sent to you and (if you are hoping to join us from overseas) your agent by email, outlining our admissions decision.

Similar to undergraduate degrees, if you receive an offer, this could be either conditional or unconditional. If your offer is conditional you’ll need to work towards meeting the conditions of that offer.

If there’s a deadline for accepting your offer it will be in your offer letter. You can accept your offer as soon as you decide to study with us, even if you still have to meet your offer conditions and have yet to apply for funding for your course.

To secure your place you’ll need to officially accept your offer via your applicant portal account. Some courses require a deposit to secure your place and if this applies to you, the deposit amount and deadline for payment will be included in your offer letter. Usually this deposit is non-refundable, but is deducted from your tuition fees when you register.

If you’re being sponsored, you should upload your formal sponsorship letter as soon as you receive it to your applicant portal account. You don’t need to pay a deposit if you’re able to provide proof of sponsorship.

For more information about what you need to do and when, check out our Offer Guide.

Confirmation of your place

Once you’ve met all the conditions of your offer, and paid a deposit if required, you’ll receive a ‘Confirmation of Place’ email.

If you require a visa to study in the UK, you’ll also receive a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) number, which you'll need to complete your visa application. You can also get advice and guidance on your student visa from our Visa Support Team.

And that’s it – you’re on your way to studying for a Master’s degree!

Want to find out more about studying for a Master’s degree? Explore the different types of Master’s programme, the funding that’s available, and the potential earning power of a Master’s.

Tags: Apply, Postgraduate, PG Pre-Application