Master’s Applications: Do your A-Levels matter?

In General, University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

A master’s degree is a very highly regarded and competitive qualification, and a big step for new postgraduates. The application process for a master’s degree is certainly nerve-wracking, so you should know you aren’t alone if you’re feeling the pressure when applying. There are many factors to take into consideration for a master’s degree application: your undergraduate degree classification, any work experience, other qualifications… but where do your A-Level grades fit into all of this? Do universities care about them?

While A-Level grades certainly matter when it comes to your master’s degree application, they are not that important. The university will definitely look at them, and you may even be asked about them in an interview, but they do not have a significant weighting in your application overall. Universities will be more concerned with things like your undergraduate degree (or international equivalent) degree classification, and any work experience you might have. There are plenty of people who have achieved a master’s qualification with below average or no A-Level qualifications!

In this article, I’m going to walk you through just how important A-Level grades are for a master’s degree application, so keep reading to find out more!

Do A-Levels matter for a master’s degree?

The short answer is no, A-Levels don’t really matter for a master’s. Universities and future employers will definitely look at your A-Level grades, but they won’t be the deciding factor on whether you’ll be accepted to study an MSc or an MA.

Similarly, once you successfully achieve your master’s qualification, employers won’t pay much attention to your A-Level grades. They will be more interested in your undergraduate and postgraduate degree classifications/qualifications.

The importance of A-Levels in education can’t be understated, but essentially, when it comes to higher education, A-Level grades are not that relevant. This is any formal study you undertake after leaving sixth form or an equivalent – for more on what higher education is, check out this Think Student article.

Do A-Levels matter when applying for a master’s?

A-Levels do not matter that much in a master’s degree application. They are mostly relevant when you apply for your undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA).

It is these undergraduate degrees which have the heaviest weighting when it comes to your master’s degree application.

However, this doesn’t mean that the university you apply to for a master’s won’t take your A-Level grades into consideration. In an interview for your master’s application, you may be asked by the interviewer about your A-Level grades.

Alternatively, you may not even be asked to provide your A-Level grades. A-Levels aren’t designed to hold you back, and there are plenty of people who have achieved a master’s qualification that did not do well in or even complete A-Levels at all.

If you are trying to pursue a master’s in a field that is different from your degree, then the relevant A-Levels might have quite a significant weighting. For example, if you completed a degree in History and wanted to pursue a master’s in economics, a university is more likely to look at your A-Level Economics grade than your degree.

Generally speaking, though, universities are most likely to look at your degree and work experience instead, especially if you have a 2:1 or higher. If you want to know more about if a 2:1 degree is good, I’d recommend this Think Student article.

What are the admission requirements for a master’s degree application?

The specific entry requirements for a master’s degree application will vary depending on your field of study, and the university you’re applying to.

However, there are some general requirements, which I’ll take you through below:

  • An undergraduate degree in a relevant field of study – At most (if not all) UK universities, you must have a bachelor’s degree (or the international equivalent) to be able to apply successfully for a master’s degree. Some institutions may specify the degree classification, for example some universities may require you to have achieved a 2:1 or higher to apply. It is also highly beneficial that your undergraduate degree is in a similar or the same field of study to the master’s degree you are applying for, e.g., you have a BA in English and want to apply for an MA in English.
  • English language proficiency – If you are an international student applying for a master’s degree in the UK, or if English is not your first language, you may have to complete a Language Proficiency Test to prove that you have the necessary English-speaking abilities to complete the qualification.
  • Entrance exams – For certain master’s degrees, you may have to sit an entrance exam to further demonstrate your academic abilities. However, these are only for certain fields, and are specific to the requirements of each university.

A-Levels are typically not part of a university’s entry requirements for a master’s degree application, as you can see above. However, each university is different, and they may still take your A-Level grades into consideration, but they won’t base the integrity of your application just on your A-Levels.

Do graduate jobs care about A-Levels?

Yes, potential employers will check your A-Level grades when you apply for a graduate job. However, these will not have too much of a weight when you apply. Employers will be more interested in any “more valuable” qualifications you have, such as a bachelor’s degree or any relevant work experience.

If you’re worried about your A-Level grades when it comes to a postgraduate job application, read this UCAS article on what employers look for in graduates.

Even if you didn’t do as well as you wanted to in your A-Levels, you should still definitely include them on your CV. Think of A-Levels as giving you a better chance of getting the job rather than taking away your chance.

Your employers may ask you about your A-Levels and any discrepancies surrounding them in your job interview, so be prepared to talk about them. Alternatively, they might not. They are important, but they don’t determine your employability, so in short, don’t worry too much about them.

If you’d like to read more about how much employers value A-Level grades, I’d recommend checking out this Think Student article.

Why are A-Level grades important?

As I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, A-Level grades definitely are important and there is actually a lot you can do with them. UCAS has more information about this on their website, linked here.

If you want to know what employers think of A-Levels, this Think Student article discusses the importance of A-Levels to employers in more detail – I recommend you check it out.

The main ‘purpose’ of A-Levels is providing a clear path into higher education and university – they are the most important when it comes to applying for an undergraduate degree.

However, they don’t really ‘do’ much once you’ve achieved a bachelor’s degree, because that is a more prestigious qualification.

Overall, A-Levels are definitely important in higher education, but when it comes to applying for a master’s degree, there are other more important factors for universities to take into consideration.

Therefore, while A-Levels do matter, they don’t matter that much for a master’s degree application.

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