Planning to venture overseas, and pursue your MS programme? Well, if you have begun to apply to various colleges, it’s better you get familiarised with the nuances with the entire application process. Let’s take a look at the components that should be there in your typical MS application kit.


Depending upon the country, college, programme and your academic background you will need to take either the GRE or the TOEFL or both in order to be able to apply to the programme of your choice.

  • The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the required entrance test or MS, MA, March and Doctorate programmes in the US and a few schools in the UK and Germany. There are two versions of GRE test:

1. GRE General Test
This test is open to all candidates, irrespective of their age or educational background. Generally taken by prospective graduate students, this test measures verbal reasoning, analytical writing, critical writing and quantitative reasoning skills of a candidate.

2. GRE Subject Test
This version of GRE exam assesses candidates’ knowledge level and accomplishments in a specific field of study. Unlike the GRE General test, this test is available only thrice in a year and can be taken only as the paper-based test. The subject test is usually given by students who aim for a PhD. The eight subjects in which the GRE subject test is presently conducted are:

  • Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Physics and
  • Psychology.


  • The TOEFL

The second test score you need in your MS application kit is the TOEFL. The new TOEFL iBT test consists of four sections: Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. All sections are taken on the same day, and the entire test is approximately four hours long.

Section Score
Listening 0 to 30
Reading 0 to 30
Speaking 0 to 30
Writing 0 to 30
Total score 0 to 120

The total score is the sum of the four skill scores.


  • Covering Letter

The covering letter in your MS application introduces you and mentions the list of the documents, which are included in your packet. It is very important to attach the covering letter because the university’s admissions office will know what documents are enclosed making their job a little simpler. It will also portray you as an organised individual. If any documents are missing, they may intimate you. In case you are not including some documents, mention it in the letter and explain why the documents are missing.


  • Application Form

Most schools prefer online applications. Most graduate schools usually release their MS application forms in July/August for the fall intake of the subsequent year.  MS Application forms are detailed and contain mini-essay questions pertaining to extracurricular activities and academia.


  • Transcripts

Schools abroad follow a GPA (Grade Point Average System), while we here in India follow a percentage system. It is not advisable that you try converting your percentage into GPA, all you need to do is provide the school with a Transcript or the consolidated marksheet. A transcript is a summary of the candidate’s academic performance. It includes the number of hours per week that a subject has been taught at class, the marks obtained, the maximum marks along with an explanation of the grading system followed by the college. You need to submit your transcripts in original to the university. You also have to submit 2 transcripts per university. So if you are applying to 7 universities you will have to collect 14 transcripts. It is advisable to collect two extra sets of transcripts in case of damage or loss of any transcript.

In case it is not possible for you to obtain all original transcripts you can ask for one original and take photocopies of the original on the letterhead of your College/ University. Stamp all the copies and then ask the Principal / Registrar / Concerned authority to sign on all of them. It is as good as having original copies.


  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)

The SOP in your MS application is a 1 to 2-page essay convincing the university about your candidature. The admission committee gives the applicant a chance to project one’s best qualities, justify the inconsistencies in the academics or test scores and convince the committee that one has the spark, the thirst for knowledge that could add value to the existing student community.

Writing a reasonably good Statement of Purpose is not an impossible task. It requires care, attention and patience. It is necessary to put in this hard work to come up with an essay that is uniquely yourself. Your Statement of Purpose must contain:

  1. A mention of your career goal or future objective.
  2. A description of your personality.
  3. A Reflection of your undergraduate education, learning, your research interests and research work.
  4. A Description of projects and seminars done beyond the course curriculum.
  5. Reasons for choice of the university for further studies.
  6. Showcasing how you will be an asset to the university.


  • Letters of Recommendation

Normally you are required to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation (LOR) with your MS application. You need to send an original copy of each LOR. You can take an LOR from your project guide, college professor or reporting head. It should be taken from a person who knows you well enough to comment on your academic ability and personality.

We strongly recommend that students not write their own recommendation letters. In case your recommender is not comfortable drafting the recos, you can give him your resume and points you would want him to include. Get a rough draft made from him and it can be polished later.


  • Resume

A resume enables the admissions committee to get an overall view of your educational background, work experience, hobbies and other extra curricular activities. A resume gives you an opportunity to talk about your accomplishments, your achievements, and your knowledge in a particular field.


  • Financial Documents

The financial documents, though a part of the application packet, have no bearing on the admission decision. It is an assurance to the university that in case the school does not offer any financial aid, the applicant would be in a position to support his/her education during the course of study. The supporting statements need to be in the form of bank statements, sponsor’s affidavit and solvency certificate showing sufficient funds (Check the appendix for a sample of the Sponser’s Certificate. International students can compete for the merit scholarships and fellowships for which some schools sometimes ask for separate documentation. So do check with the school to see if getting an admit would automatically make you eligible for the aid.


  • Portfolio (if needed)

In your MS application kit, the portfolio is required if you want to apply to school of architecture and design and schools of fine arts. The schools of fine arts do not require the GRE® score for graduate programmes. The portfolio would be a deciding factor for admission. The portfolio should contain, original copies of past work and works in progress, in case of teamwork individual role needs to be explained and slides, video tapes and others with proper details and specifics of the work. The school may give themes to work on as a part of the application. Example, for film studies, topics would be given for the student to present scripts on.


  • Open Testimonials (if needed)

In addition to the Letters of Recommendation the students can include Open Testimonials, which should ideally be presented at the end of the application packet. These testimonials are over and above the required academic and professional letters of recommendation. These will include any and all statements of appreciation or recommendation from any source, such as societies one has worked with, satisfied customers/clients, work related awards and others.

You should check the website of each university in case they have any specific requirements. Always refer to the list of documents specified by the university before you dispatch your MS application packet.

We hope this guideline on what constitutes your MS application packet will get you started on the road to your Fall 2017 admit!


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