A guide to find the perfect Master’s degree programme!

Applying for a master’s degree programme might seem challenging if you don’t know how to start your search and to make a satisfying conclusion. This blog post will give you a general advice and my own perspective as I have been in the same situation two years ago.

Finding a suitable master’s degree programme can be really challenging. Especially as the decision will determine your future and career path. Questions such as “Am I good enough for the programme? What are my actual interests and how can they be implemented in my career? What will the courses be like?” are just some of the thoughts I had in my mind two years ago.

At the time, I had just finished my bachelor’s degree in a German university and was overwhelmed by the huge amount of different study possibilities. In the following, I will try to explain how I managed to decide a suitable programme and learned how to be satisfied with my choice.

Suitable country and city

The first decision I had to take was about the location I basically want to live in the next years. For me the decision was quite easy as I have been on exchange to Rovaniemi and knew that I want to return to a Finnish university. But what about all those students who don’t know the country beforehand?

At this point, some work from your side is required. First, you need to decide in what language you want to study. Some countries do not offer a huge amount of master’s degree programmes in English, which might minimise your options.

Second, decide how much you want to pay for your degree. Depending on where you are from, you sometimes need to pay tuition fees. Nevertheless, they can vary tremendously from country to country. In some countries of the European Union (EU) studying is free for EU citizens (such as Finland).

Think about what features the country should have. Do you like big cities or are you more of a nature loving type of person?

Third, think about what features the country should have. Do you like big cities or are you more of a nature loving type of person? What are the main features of your surroundings which are making you happy and are giving you a feeling of being home? After answering those questions, the possible countries you can consider is already limited.

Now try to imagine yourself in the next two years. What country would you like to live in for the long term? If you get a job in this particular country, would you take it? If ‘yes’ is your answer, this might be the place for you.

Suitable master’s degree programme

Now after you decided on what country you want to study in, it is about finding the right programme. Finding this out might be a bit harder. Nevertheless, the answer mainly depends on you.

First, think about your interests. In my case, I love to study change processes and wicked problems. I want to find solutions to the biggest questions of our time. Those were points I wrote down during my decision process, labelling them as my main interests. Of course, maybe a more graphical approach such as a mind map can help.

If you really cannot come up with some good ideas, ask your friends and family for help. Additionally, look at your transcript of records. During your bachelor’s degree you have studied a vast amount of courses. Which of those were the most interesting ones? Were there any classes you would love to learn more about? Write those down and mark them under “study interests.”

Want to know more about my master’s programme? Watch the video!

Now that you know all your wishes and interests it is time to have an extended look on the university websites. After finding a master’s degree programme that sounds interesting, look further into the curriculum guide. Normally all the upcoming courses of your programme are mentioned, and this gives you a better inside view of the programme.

Compare the mentioned courses, career perspectives and general descriptions with your list. Are there any overlaps? Perfect, because those are the ones which show you that your interests and wishes will be fulfilled in the programme. Write down five master’s degree programmes which are fitting your interests. Those will be your basis for the last steps.

Tampere University has a lot of active Student ambassadors who are more than happy to help you and give you information.

The next point would be to get in contact with students who can tell you about the university, city and the programme. Tampere University has a lot of active Student ambassadors who are more than happy to help you and give you information. You probably find similar help in other universities. If not, try to contact the admissions office for further suggestions.

Are you suitable?

Probably one of the most uncomfortable parts comes up at the end: the eligibility criteria of a university for entering the master’s degree programme. Those can be divided into “General eligibility criteria” and “Programme-specific eligibility criteria.”

First, the general criteria are based on you having a completed bachelor’s degree (at the beginning of the master’s degree) and your language skills. During my application I had nearly finished my bachelor’s degree and the amount of credits I obtained showed that I will finish my bachelor’s degree programme in the upcoming month before the deadline for submitting the bachelor’s degree certificate. I proved my language skills by taking the TOEFL test. Other tests are accepted as well such as the IELTS test.

Second, some programmes are containing more detailed programme-specific eligibility criteria. Those can be specific courses during your bachelor’s degree or recommendations from professors. Hopefully those criteria are not scaring you of. Nevertheless, make sure that you have all the needed documents in time. Of course, the admissions office is happy to help you with those questions as well!

Apply!

Now it is up to you. You know the place, you narrowed down the field and you have all the documents ready. At this point, I can just say be brave. It might still seem scary to actually submit the documents, but after you finish this procedure a rewarding time is coming up to you. Just don’t fear missing out by deciding to stick to a certain of programme or several possible programmes. They are portraying your wishes and interests, which means that your studies can just be perfect.

– Alba

Are you interested in studying with us? Have a look at our international degree programmes and apply until 15 January 2020!

Photo of Alba
About the writer: I’m a Master’s degree student in Leadership for Change and currently writing my thesis. I went on student exchange for one year in the University of Lapland and afterwards decided to stay in Finland for my master’s. You can find me in most of the yoga classes organized by SportUni!