To answer the question of what makes a good essay for a master’s degree application, let us have a close look at what a grad school application letter (the other name for this mysterious and scary thing) is. At first look, it seems to be the same piece of personal narrative, your self-introduction to the world that you submitted when applying to an undergraduate program. It is in many aspects, but things become much more competitive at this point. You need to persuade that you are the one to be taken seriously.
Therefore, the prompts for master’s degree application essays are usually more narrow than the ones you worked with while applying to college. Their purpose is to make you reveal the professional side of your personality in addition to the creative one.
Here are some of the typical master’s essay prompts:
- Write about an instance when you have dealt with a challenge or helped others using your leadership skills.
- Have you ever taken any valuable lessons from failure?
- Describe your career goals in both short and long term.
- Explain your decision to apply to this school.
Whichever prompt you will encounter, the key goals of your master’s degree application essay are:
- To explain what you aspire to learn in graduate school.
- To provide viable reasoning for your choice of program.
- To clarify why the grad program you are applying to is the best match for your needs (and why you fit the institution too).
The Things to Consider While Writing your Grad Application Letter
As it is already mentioned, the master’s degree application essay is the specific form of writing that places certain limitations and restrictions on the applicant. Following are some of the peculiarities that set this form of writing apart from other types of essays and the ones you submitted while applying to college.
You need to be specific
While there is certain room for creativity in your essay for master’s degree application, you must stay focused on the prompt and address the issues relevant for your future field of study in your writing. This consideration makes it important to choose the prompt to answer responsibly (as most institutions will provide you with several options). You must consider the personal stories you are able to share with the commission and decide on which context they would fit best.
Consider your target audience
The most devastating mistake you can make while applying to several graduate programs is to send identical application letters to each institution. This approach will make your writing bland and generic. The admission committees look through thousands of such essays on a daily basis. You must show a genuine interest in their institution by researching it and finding peculiar arguments on how you will contribute to the success of the grad school you are applying to.
Again, your application essay must catch the attention of the committee. It means that the story you are about to tell has to not resemble the stories told by other applicants. There are positive and negative news associated with this issue. The bad news is that many of the experiences people (especially young ones) perceive as unique are, in fact, quite common. Therefore, there is probably nothing in your life you can truly impress others with (unless there is a deeply intimate story you are unwilling to share). The good news, however, is that this obstacle presents you with the opportunity to be creative and tell this fairly common story in a unique manner.
You must not let yourself be carried out by the train of creativity. As it is already mentioned, the main goal of your master’s degree application essay is to show your academic potential and the ability to succeed in the chosen program. Therefore, it is important to balance creativity and the need to stay focused. You may check our master’s essay example to see how to do it.
Maintain professional tone
Another function of the essay for master’s degree application is to showcase the skills you have acquired in terms of academic writing. At the same time, you should not lose personal touch behind the wall of carefully chosen words and perfectly crafted transitions. The structure and mechanics of your essay are important, but they will not help you achieve your goals without having a compelling story behind them.
It is virtually impossible to address all the issues mentioned above in the first draft. Luckily there is also no need to do that. On the contrary, you have to revisit your essay several times to check whether it addresses the prompt, if the story is compelling, and whether it is written up to scratch in terms of mechanics. Getting others to have a look at your application letter can help with that a lot.
The Key Do-Nots of Master’s Application Essays
- Don’t share more information than necessary. Never include things that shed a negative light on you in the essay.
- Don’t restate other documents from your application.
- Don’t use highbrow words to pretend to be smart.
- Don’t address controversial and potentially uncomfortable topics
Overall, enrolling into a grad school is one of the most important steps on the path towards success. Therefore, you must take your application essay for master’s program seriously. However, the process is not as difficult and complicated as it may seem if you stay focused and pay attention to detail.