Considering Applying for a Master’s Degree, an MBA, or a PhD? Read This.

Some of the options to consider when thinking of postgraduate education are the opportunities to pursue a Masters Degree, an MBA (Master of Business Administration), or a PhD.

Applying for a postgraduate degree, whether it’s a master’s or 𝗮 doctoral programme, can be a complex and competitive process.

This post goes into detail – sharing insights from 40+ leading Universities (thanks to the MBA and Master’s Tours hosted by the Graduate Management Admission Council ™ (GMAC ™)) on things to consider when applying for a Masters, an MBA, or a PhD.

The New York City MBA Tour

Personally, I am pivoting my career, and see myself wanting to gain some experience in the private sector. At the moment, professionally, I am a development professional: an international policy analyst, and an entrepreneur in different capacities. I work for an INGO, and I also run a non-profit that empowers young professionals – getting them on the path to their dream careers.

As someone who has built several startups and studied entrepreneurship at postgraduate level, the question for me remains ‘would an MBA/a PhD be of value to me?

To ensure I am well-informed as I am making this decision, I attended not one, but two MBA Tours (February and July) as were hosted by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admissions Council) in NYC. I have also attended Diversity Preview/MBA Connection days with New York University, Michigan State University, and Rochester University.

Msc/MA/MBA/PhD? Things to consider when applying for Postgraduate Programmes.

I am sharing this with you, as I am doing my own research for postgraduate degree options. As it stands, I am completing my MSc. Entrepreneurship with the Malawi University of Science and Technology, and I am yet to determine if I am going to pursue an MBA or a PhD next. Truthfully? I will go where the highest scholarship comes from.

Below, a few things I have learnt, which you can consider when deciding on/applying for a postgraduate programme.

1. Research your options: Explore different programmes, universities, and fields of study to find the one that aligns with your academic and career goals. Consider factors like location, programme duration, faculty expertise, and available resources.

2. Application deadlines: Note the application deadlines for each programme you’re interested in, as they can vary significantly.

3. Entry requirements: Understand the specific admission requirements for each programme, including prerequisites, standardized tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS), and minimum GPA.

4. Letters of recommendation: Identify potential recommenders who know you well academically or professionally. Ask for their recommendations well in advance, and provide them with relevant information about your goals and achievements.

5. Statement of purpose: Write a compelling and well-structured statement of purpose (SOP) that explains your motivations, goals, and how the programme aligns with your aspirations. Tailor each SOP to the specific programme.

6. Curriculum vitae (CV) or resume: Prepare a comprehensive CV or resume that highlights your academic, professional, and extracurricular achievements and experiences.

Read this post for tips on how to create a great resume.

7. Academic transcripts: Request official transcripts from your undergraduate institution(s) and ensure they are sent to the universities you’re applying to. Please note various Universities will give clear instructions on when and how these transcripts are sent in.

8. Financial considerations: Research the cost of tuition and living expenses for each programme and explore scholarship, grant, or financial aid opportunities.

9. Interview or portfolio: Some programmes may require an interview or a portfolio of your work as part of the application process. Prepare accordingly.

10. English language proficiency: If you’re a non-native English speaker and the language of instruction in the Undergraduate University you attended was not English, take the necessary language proficiency tests and meet the minimum score requirements. Plan for additional language support if needed.

11. Standardized tests: Prepare thoroughly for any required standardized tests. Take practice exams and consider enrolling in test prep courses if necessary. I will share more on this soon.

12. Application fees: Be aware of application fees, and budget for these expenses. Some programmes offer fee waivers for eligible candidates.

13. Scholarships and financial aid: Explore scholarships and financial aid options both within the university and externally. Apply for as many as you are eligible for. Get in touch with previous recipients of the scholarship – acquintances and strangers alike (keeping it professional), and get insights on best practices.

14. Review application materials: Before submitting, carefully review your application materials for errors, and consider having someone else proofread them as well.

15. Follow-up and confirmations: After submitting your applications, monitor your email for updates and follow up with the universities to ensure they have received all your documents.

16. Interviews: Be prepared for interviews if they are part of the application process. Practice answering common interview questions and be ready to discuss your qualifications and goals.

17. Keep backup options: Apply to multiple programmes to increase your chances of acceptance, and have backup options in case you are not admitted to your first-choice programme.

18. Stay organized: Create a spreadsheet or document to track deadlines, requirements, and correspondence with each university. This will help you stay organized throughout the application process.

Applying for a postgraduate degree is a demanding process, but thorough preparation and attention to detail can increase your chances of admission to the programme of your choice. Be proactive and start early to give yourself the best chance of success.

All my love,


Previously: Writing a Great CV

I have come to learn that though for different purposes, several tips apply for both academic and professional CVs. I have spent my year trying to learn as much as I can about professional development, both for personal but also entrepreneurial reasons. Personally, I am pivoting my career and see myself wanting to gain some experience in the private sector.

In this post, I share some tips for writing a compelling CV that is nearly guaranteed to get you hired/selected (if you have the required experience, and are a match for the role).

In the previous newsletter, I shared some tips for writing a compelling CV that is nearly guaranteed to get you hired (if you have the required experience).

Featured: Is an MBA for You?

I joined 38 Universities at the 2023 MBA Tour in New York City. I learnt a lot about MBAs and the schools that offer them. I go into detail re what I learnt yesterday at the MBA Tour – why I think an MBA might not be for me, and potentially why it just might be for you!

What the full video here.

Watch the full video here.

Coming Up: Preparing for the GMAT Exam – Things to Know.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized test commonly required for admission to graduate business programmes, such as MBA (Master of Business Administration) programmes. If you’re planning to take the GMAT, there are some important things to know.

I have over the past few months been preparing to take the GMAT. I have learnt so much, and in this post, I share some GMAT exam basics – what worked for me, and what you can utilise.

If you are not yet a subscriber, please feel free to subscribe below to get the updates directly in your mailbox.

Spotlight: Make time to Unwind!

Your mental health and wellness are so extremely important! As a high-performing and ever-busy person, I know a thing or two about burn out. Please make time for unwinding and relaxation. I leave you with a soft reminder: make time to unwind.


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