The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

Postgraduate courses: How to apply

Postgraduate applications

Most institutions have their own method and timetable for postgraduate applications. You should start your application process between 12 to 18 months before your intended study date in order to research the different institutions and complete any necessary tests as well as to research possible funding and scholarship opportunities. Once you have made your shortlist of institutions you wish to apply for, you'll have to prepare your application.

Each institution sets its own application deadline. These are usually between January and March, although they can be earlier or later depending on the academic calendar. It's always a good idea to submit your application as soon as possible. Additionally, by sending your application early, you can apply for funding granted by the university.

Applying online

Most universities have developed systems to receive and manage your application online. This is a great improvement from having to send all your documents over the post and wait long weeks for their reply. We have also developed an online application service, which facilitates the way to send your applications.

Application requirements are very similar across universities, so why not having all your information stored in one place and send it to different universities at once? That will widen your chances of being accepted to university abroad, without adding extra cost for each application. Check it out here.

university application service

You can shortlist your favourite institutions using our shortlist and compare tool. Additionally, if you rather take your time on this research, then you can download a prospectus and find all you need to know about your future university.

Why you should download a university prospectus


Additional documents

  • Academic credentials: certified copies of original diplomas, degrees or professional titles and university transcripts (grade awarded)
  • Personal statement where you must clearly outline your academic ambitions goals and achievements
  • If taking a research degree, you may need to provide an outline of your research profile
  • Recommendation letters, usually from a teacher or employer who will be able to write about your work and potential
  • A personal reference is occasionally requested when applying for funding as the selection committee wants to have a more personal insight on your application
  • Some universities may require a financial statement to confirm you have the funds to cover your undergraduate education
  • Some universities will want to interview students. University staff or alumni may conduct these interviews, usually over the phone


English entry requirements

You will need to demonstrate an adequate level of English language that will enable you to benefit fully from your course. For most of our postgraduate courses, you will require a minimum score of 6.5 IELTS or equivalent. Additionally, you can take the TOEFL exam to fulfil the English requirement.

Most universities offer English language courses for international students in the summer and during the academic year, which might help you to improve their English language and academic skills. However, you shouldn’t rely on this and it is advisable you prepare your English skills before arriving to university, so you don’t have to struggle with keeping good performance in your course and working on your English skills.

If you are applying to a university in the UK, the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for UK (UK NARIC) can provide further information on the equivalence between overseas qualifications and the UK system. For other study destination, check with your prospective university.


More information

Learn more about the different postgraduate qualifications you can apply for here.

Read more about PhD courses and what you can see in each of them.

Are PhD students ready to face non-academic life?

How to write a Master’s thesis

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Postgraduate applications

Aspiring journalist and Cambridge University graduate, Londoner 'by adoption'. Tweeting for @hotcourses_Abrd

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