How Long Does it Take to Hear Back From a Master’s Application?

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Applying to a university as a postgraduate student is exciting and admittedly quite stressful. But be comforted that the wait will be soon over, just hang in there! A Master’s degree could be the steppingstone to your future and be the vital difference in getting a jobIt can make you stand out from the crowd. This is especially important now with more people than ever who have an undergraduate degreeThere can be a lot of ambiguity and myths on how long it takes for an outcome on a master’s application, but this article is here to clear all of that!  

If it is your first time applying for a master’s degree, then should be aware the process can be very long as there are many steps to it and due to the high volume of applications received. Highly competitive courses can take longer.  

In short, you should be getting a reply from the university within a couple of weeks. However, all universities get to decide on the timeframe for processing master’s applications. Therefore, receiving any kind of an update can vary from a few days up to a couple of months. For example, the University of Liverpool says that they decide within three weeks of receipt of your application. Before you receive a reply, you need to ensure you have received a receipt of your application. This means that both of your references have been approvedMost universities have an online portal on which you can track the status of your application. Even so, it does not hurt to get in touch with the university’s admissions department to ask any questions you may have.  

Applying for a master’s degree is very different from applying for an undergraduate degree. For example, UCAS is not usually involved. This article will go in-depth in the process and how to go through it as efficiently as possible. Read on to find out more. 

When is the Latest You Can Receive an Offer?

If your application was sent out by the 29th January deadline, you can expect an offer by early May. For those of you who applied by the 30th June, an offer will be given out by mid-July. By the process of clearing, the end of October would be a realistic timeframe for an offer. The information above was taken from The Uni Guide. It would be smart to set a reminder so you can keep track of the dates and stay on top of things.  

Why Does it Take So Long to Receive an Offer?

Every university has its own unique selection process so the waiting times may vary. The best place to look for any kind of estimated deadline is the university’s websiteAs an example, the University of Cambridge says that they need to consider the application. Here are the steps involved: assessing all the materials that have been submitted with the application, finding an appropriate supervisor, ranking the applicant for funding and inviting the applications for an interview. You should also know that if the application is unsuccessful, it will not proceed any further. If this happens, the admissions department will get in touch to let you know of this. The whole process would take around 12 weeks and there is a chance you could even receive a decision earlier. Please note that the above information has been taken from Cambridge’s Website  

What Are the Potential Outcomes of Your Master’s Application?

The outcomes to your application could be one of: unconditional, conditional, interview and unsuccessfulThe table below explains each of these. 

Outcome  Explanation 
Unconditional  Unconditional means that you have met the entry requirements and have a guaranteed place on the course. There is nothing more you will need to do.  


Conditional  Conditional offers happen when you have an offer to join the course given that you meet the requirements. You will be required to give evidence of your exam results.  


Interview  The admission tutors will decide whether to invite you on to the course. Most likely, interviews may be carried out online because of social distancing rules. The university may directly contact with the details of the interview such as the date or time.  


Unsuccessful  As name suggests, unsuccessful means that you have do not have a place on the course. Don’t be disheartened as you will be able to go through clearing or reapply. Please be aware that many courses are oversubscribed which means that there are more applicants than places offered. 

 For all of the outcomes except where you are unsuccessful, there will be a deadline to let the university know of your decision. Failure in not meeting this deadline could lead to the offer or place on the course being revoked.  

How Can You Speed UThe Process of Applying for a Master’s Degree?

Understandably, you could be feeling helpless and like everything is out of your hands once your application has gone through. But there are a few things you can do.  

Remember to keep checking your emails to make sure you do not miss out on any crucial updates and messages from the universities. Also make sure that all supporting documentation are submitted as and when required. Another good idea is to email the admissions department and ask if they if have received all the relevant documents if they already have not confirmed it. More importantly, be sure that you know how to send the documents to the universities – keeping a list of any telephone numbers and emails can help. Keep a close eye on your emails so that you do not miss anything.   

Some people often make the mistake of getting in touch with UCAS (if that is what the university of their choice wishes them to apply through as an alternative to applying directly). UCAS does not have any say in the selection process. It is purely up to the university to make the decisions. UCAS acts as the middleman between you and the university when apply for a master’s degree. 

Having all the documents on hand and in the required format will also allow for reduced delays in the processing of your application. Failure in submitting documents could lead to delays in your application’s outcome which is the last thing you would want.  

Be sure to update any details such as phone numbers, home address etc if they change. This could be major inconvenience and lead to unnecessary delays to the outcome of your application.  

Keep an eye on the university’s website for any updates to deadlines and dates. Especially in these unprecedented times, things can change really quickly and can be very unpredictable.  

Unfortunately, in these unprecedented times some delays could be inevitable as many admission tutors could be working remotely.  

What Can You Do Whilst Waiting to Hear Back from Your Master’s Application?

As offers for applications from friends and peers start pouring in, do not lose hope. The key thing here is to focus on yourself and not compare yourself to others. This will only increase anxiety. But this is easier said than done. Conversely, sometimes other people that you know may be unsuccessful in their application. You should not let this also get to you.  

Note that you are not the only one who is going through this. There are thousands of other applicants who are in the exact same position as you are. They will be feeling a similar way to you are and may be sharing the same thoughts. Try talking to others who applied in previous academic years, so you know what it was like for them and what to expect.  

Assuming you have taken all the necessary steps above my advice to you would be to try your best to relax and focus on other things. Don’t get too caught up on tracking the application on a daily basis as this will make the time go by a lot slower. Just remember the time between this application and the start of your masters is free time before you begin further years of study so make sure you have fun and enjoy!

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