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Applying Abroad for Master’s Degree – Rajnish

Contents

            Hello everyone, I hope you are doing well in these tough times. Take care of yourself properly and make sure you always keep learning. Before we go ahead I, the author of this content would like to clear the air. 


This content is solely based on my own experience and may or may not agree with one’s own ideology/experience/knowledge. Hence, this should be taken as an individual input for reference purposes only. Also, the country considered is Canada, bur procedures will be similar for other countries.


My details: –
·         Bachelor in Engineering; Electronics and Telecommunication (2015-19)
·         Master of Engineering; Electrical and Computer Engineering (currently)
Your field of interest/study may or may not match with mine, but the steps are similar for applying abroad irrespective of your stream. I duly hope this article helps you with your point of concern. Sincere apologies if I don’t cover any topic you are looking for. Let’s begin!

Topics covered: –
1.      Field and focus
2.      Selection of Entity
·         Country
·         Universities/Colleges
·         Intakes/Admissions
3.      Competitive Exams
4.      Degree Type
·         Thesis
·         Non-thesis
5.      Use of Social Media and Internet
·         FB/twitter
·         LinkedIn
6.      If you’re in the final year of your undergraduate study
7.      Admission Documents
8.      Tips
 
1.    Field and Focus
            Have a clear idea about what you want and what is your preference when it comes to pursue a career in the same. One field is a very wide platform, research in it and combine the results with your interests and you’ll have your answer! Personally, I would suggest not to have just one aim. Be realistic and have more than one, because after your degree when you enter the market and try to get a job, the market may change.
 
2.     Selection of Entity
            The selection of the country, academic institution(s), and intake is a key factor. It decides what kind of environment you will lie in, the quality of education you will get, and more.
·        Selection of Country
This may not be as impactful as other criteria, but definitely is a factor worth some attention. Ask yourself questions like, will I be able to survive the climate? (Severe cold in Northern Canada or European Countries etc.)  Is my body adaptable enough?
·        Selection of Universities/Colleges
Once you have decided a focus in your favorable field, respective course needs to be taken while pursuing the degree. Look up the internet in order to search the institutions which provide that course(s). Not every academic institution will be providing the course(s) you need, are looking for.
Note: Every institution has its own way of naming the subjects/courses. Simply do not decide by reading the name of the subject/course while researching. Read the description provided by the intuition on it and make your decision.
·        Intakes/Admissions
An intake is basically a time period for which an institution opens up the course/program for students to get in. For e.g. Canada has three intakes, Fall/September, Winter/January, and Summer/May. Look out carefully for the intakes, as not every program is opened up for every intake of a particular institution. Your concerned program should be open for the intake you are planning to go for.
Note: If you have more than a year gap between your latest degree and application, you are supposed to explain what you did due that time and not waste it, this is helpful for application and Visa too.
 
3.     Competitive Exams
These are the exams one needs to give in order to study abroad. Once you decide your country of interest, this point should be taken into consideration. They are GRE, IELTS, TOEFL, etc. Different countries have different requirements. This not limited to the country only but on the institution as well. For e.g. Canada, in general, doesn’t require GRE unlike the USA, but some universities for a particular course(s) mention it as a requirement. In that too there will be certain numeric marks mentioned for the corresponding exam(s). Please check that carefully as that will be the minimum requirement for the candidate in order to be eligible to get in.
 
4.     Degree Type
            Primarily the degrees can be classified as Thesis and Non-Thesis. Depending on your preference, you enter one. The admission process is quite similar but getting a degree is totally different.
·        Thesis
This broadly known as research-based. Where you research on a particular topic. You are awarded a master’s degree only if you’re able to defend your thesis in front of a panel at the end of the program. Along with this, there is the requirement of a certain credit you have to achieve too. In my current university, the thesis degree is known as MSc and MASc. Check the same with your institution of interest.
Also, in such a degree you will be working under a professor. Many institutions will ask to fill that professor info (if any) during the application itself. Even though it may or may not be a compulsion, but is always preferable to be in touch with a professor of your concerning research topic. So, what I am about to tell is an intermediate step and should be done after deciding your academic institution(s).
Accumulate all of your research data together and then search the institution website for a professor of your field. Once you find the proper personality, contact them, and convey that you want to work under them for your degree. As you build your rapport, show them your research and findings, why do you want to work with them? (may sound like buttering, but that’s how it works sometimes). The reason being, that professor may play a role in you getting an admit and might increase your chances as well.
Note:
a.     Your research should be along the lines of theirs/your degree major. Also, the professor assigned to you will be specified in your offer/admit letter from the institution.
b.      Understand, the professors are extremely busy, they may reply in days or even weeks or even have their assistants reply you, be patient
c.       There will be other types of courses as well, look it up.
·        Non-thesis
Most commonly known as a course-based degree. In this, in order to get a degree, you need to complete a certain amount of courses to get certain credits. The number differs from university to university and will be mentioned on their website.
Note: Both the degree types have a time constraint, usually mentioned in terms of semesters during or before which you have to meet the degree requirements.
 
5.     Use of Social Media and Internet
            The internet is your best friend. It can answer any question you have, but here I will ask you to do something different. Use the apps we have on our phones to get better knowledge.
·        Facebook and other social medias
Once you have decided on a country and /or institution follow their Facebook or other social media pages. Moreover, lookup of pages that guide students on their quest for admissions in a particular domain. There are a lot of pages on FB itself to help you out.
·        LinkedIn
This is a key factor, I hope you all know about LinkedIn and if not, get yourself on it. All it takes is a google account signup and 20-30 mins of your day. Once you are on LinkedIn follow the academic institutions of your liking. Go on the institution’s LinkedIn account where you will find alumni from the same, try talking to them. Get to know them, as well as about the institution from them. You will get a good insight into how’s the academia there, the study quality, scope, and more.
 
6.     If you’re in the final year of your undergraduate study
            A lot of people decide to do a higher degree just as they finish their current one while some take a year(s) gap/job before going for further studies. Just like any other thing in the world, this has its own pros and cons too. To keep the neutrality of the situation, I won’t incline towards any of the sides but will put in my two cents for what can you do if you plan to do consecutive degrees.
Profile and Studies: Building a profile is very important. Make sure your CGPA is good enough to make you eligible for the admissions. For e.g. For a master’s degree in Canada 70% is considered as a benchmark, and is not recommended to do so, if otherwise. So make sure you stay above certain benchmarks.
Projects: if a student is doing a project, be it their final year engineering project or a personal project, it is always better if it has some mutual ground with their field of preference. Make sure you document whatever you’re doing. Its scope and requirements are a special consideration. If you can work on something which will be in demand in the near future, good!
Paper Publications: As you are planning to apply for further studies, it will be beneficial if you have a paper published. It will compensate for the lack of professional experience (if any).
 
7.     Admission Documents
·        Letter of References/Recommendation (LORs)
All the institutions you will apply in will ask you for LORs and if not all, most will. LOR is basically a recommendation form a person who knows you and sees that you have the potential to go for further studies. Minimally, the institutions as for 2 LORs but they can ask for more, make sure that you obtain them from someone you know/have worked with in the past year or so from the date of application. What I mean is, do not submit a LOR from a teacher who taught you 5 years ago, the latest the better. It can be your employer, Dean and/or Head of Department of your college, project guide etc. Try to get a LOR from the highest of authorities of the relevant entity.
·        Statement of Purpose/Intent (SOP)
This is basically yourself described in a form of an essay of 2 pages. Points like what instigated this interest in you? why you want to pursue it and do a degree? why only that (the institute in which you are submitting the SOP) institute? etc. should be addressed. Be clear about your intentions with that course and how you will use it for the betterment of society!
·        Backlog Certificate
Yes, this is a thing in real life. It’s a record of how many backlogs you have in your undergrad degree. Do not worry, not every institution asks for it, and if they do, your undergrad college knows about it. Depending from college to college, either they will have a draft where you have to fill in or make one from yourself. If you have to make from yourself, those FB groups I mentioned come in handy, and of course, Google!
·        Transcripts
You all must be knowing about them, so won’t say much. Just keep more than once copies with you before submitting them to institutions abroad. Also, while requesting transcripts from your undergrad college, request for an online copy too will come in handy while sending data to applying institute.
·        World Education Services (WES) Evaluation
This is an important part of the abroad application. Your applied institution, if they want, will clearly specify that WES evaluation is required. This is basically, a certification that your degree is from an authorized university/academic entity. The process sounds tedious, but don’t worry the internet and those FB groups will come out helpful. Try getting in touch with people who have done it and get to know what all are the primary requirements and more. WES isn’t the only one, there are others as well for e.g. ICAS for Canada. Check it out if you need this first from a senior/consultant, as this evaluation takes a significant amount of time and costs one money. Not sure if it will be even required or no, ye mentioned this as some might require and I knew about it.
 
8.     Tips
a.   Once you are determined about studying abroad and decided a country and bunch of institutions, make sure you keep a tab on the admissions. Some institutions may open the admissions prior to others and cases like these arise
b.   In reference to point a’, some institutions open admissions for first come first serve (FCFS) basis, in such a case the faster you apply the better are your chances of getting into
c.   Use Yocket, an app for monitoring the admits. You can enter the group of the institutions (the app guides you, don’t worry!).
d. While doing your research on institutions, prepare an excel sheet with columns like name, ranking(optional), GRE requirement, IELTS requirement (any other exam requirement), Fee per sem/year, Program i.e. your choice of program and what is called in that institution, Links i.e. links to the fee estimator, fee, course and application portal of the institutions etc.
e.   THIS IS NOT A MOTIVATING POINT, but I think it holds importance, hence putting it here. Be in touch with your parents/sponsor. What I mean is, concern them before finalizing the institution for applying. The reason for this point being, it might happen that a particular institution is high in rank and academia, but charges sumptuously, a humongous amount which may be out of your sponsor’s/parent’s financial capacity. Most of the ambitious academic institutions are in a higher economy as compared to your home country and a unit of their economy will be multiple INRs. Please, do not be disheartened by this, but this is a practical dilemma one may lie into. I am just mentioning as I went through it.
 
So, this was it from my side. Again, this was my experience, and tried to be as detailed as possible. I hope I have addressed your concerns and wrote a helpful one for which you gave your time and read this article.
 
Last but not the least, thanks to Dushyanth, who saw this as an opportunity to help the community. Kudos to him and all the other barnstormers!
 
Thank you for reading, I wish you all have your aims accomplished and get into the best of the universities to prove your potential to everyone attached to you!
Take care, all the best and keep going and keep learning!!

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