Essential tips about applying for postgraduate degrees

The best tips every student should know about applying for and getting accepted into ANY postgraduate degree. Don't apply before reading this!
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Richard McKeon
Team Postgrad Australia
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If you’ve decided to make the leap into postgraduate study and have shortlisted your favourite courses, the next step is to submit some winning applications. In addition to securing your place in a top program, an outstanding application will also give you the best chance of being awarded advance credit for prior study or work experience.

Review the entry requirements

Every postgraduate course is different, so the most important step in applying for a course is to understand the entry requirements intimately. Some programs may have no entry requirements other than an undergraduate degree, while others will require a particular undergraduate degree, an entrance exam, work experience, a portfolio, or a even a well thought-through thesis topic (for research degrees). By understanding exactly what is required, you can begin planning how you will meet those requirements, for example, by studying for an entrance exam.

Leverage your work experience

Even if work experience is not a prerequisite for the program you are applying for, it is always worth mentioning in your application. Australian institutions value experience highly (sometimes more so than academic performance), since it demonstrates your commitment an indicated you will be a valuable contributor to your cohort. Solid work experience will not only increase your chances of being accepted into a program, but may also make you eligible for a haircut on the length of your degree; in some cases reducing a two year Master’s degree to a single year. Even if you haven’t worked full-time since completing your bachelor, experience from an internship, undergraduate thesis, or part-time job can still help prove your credentials to the admissions committee.

Look for pathways

If you simply don’t meet the entry requirements for your desired program (and there’s no way to bend them), don’t give up; where there’s a will, there’s a way. You might not be eligible for direct entry into a Master’s degree, but you may be able to begin a Graduate Diploma or Certificate in a related field, and then continue into the Master’s with study credit from your first Graduate degree. Alternatively, if you are missing one or two required subjects, or don’t quite have the grades, you could extend your undergraduate degree for a semester, with nothing but HDs in your cross-hairs.

Pick up the phone

Even if you think you’re clearly in, it’s always worth picking up the phone and giving the faculty a call to double check you meet all the entrance criteria. Sometimes the selection criteria is not listed online (only the must-have prerequisites), but a call with Tom or Jane from the faculty desk might just give away exactly what the selection committee are looking for. Even if you’re not eligible, they will have the best advice on other pathways.