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How To Write A Winning Master's Application

Applying to a business master's program? Here's three ways to make your master's application stand out from the crowd

Sat Mar 5 2022

When you're putting together a business master's application, you really have to know the schools you're applying to so you can demonstrate you're a great fit. 

In this Applicant Question, written by Aude Henou from Emlyon Business School, you'll learn three ways to successfully demonstrate your desirable qualities to your chosen schools:

1. Adjust your application to each program or school

The first thing you must have in mind during a Master's application is that it needs to stand out amongst a whole host of others.

Business schools may all have different admissions processes, so you need to try and understand what matters to them, depending on what is required.

Every piece of information you get will be useful, and you can collect this information online or through information sessions.

The time you spend on reading about the program and admissions expectations is never lost, and will prevent you from taking a standard approach based on preconceived ideas you may have.

Applicants who really try to understand what is required and do not produce a standard approach, like the same documents, similar texts and the same angles for all programs, are more likely to match the admissions expectations.

Read carefully about the...

oning and branding of the school. Look at the vocabulary, values, and spirit expressed to check if you are on the same page.

At this stage, you can predict your own profile and think about your personal winning qualities that matter the most for the program.

It is important to produce an efficient application. Depending on class size and the admissions process, your application file may be reviewed by automation and then by admissions officers.

Data treatment requires that you produce clear input that will help to identify whether you match first level criteria.

For instance, it is important to think about the keywords you will use. For complementary qualitative pieces, tests or examinations that will be read and assessed by a person, you need to facilitate their reading and evaluation.

Simple rules apply here; don’t make it too long, focus on facts and proof rather than general features, proofread your English and orthography, and respect the format of the documents required (resume, recommendation letters).

Likewise for interviews, take into account the same environment analysis, and focus on responding to questions, more than overselling your qualities.

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2. Be genuine and highlight what your strengths really are

Many applicants believe they need to match a standard profile.

They talk generally and try to fit in and may be tempted to invent or compensate their shortcomings.

Beyond your measurable skills and background, that will be assessed at some point, program directors are looking for diversity and need to understand the student and learner that you will be.

I strongly recommend that you assume your weaknesses and show how you are aware of your progression in order to focus more on your personality, assets and future contribution as a classmate.

You need to showcase how you will contribute to teamwork, how you will behave as a student and in your future professional environment, and justify your points to avoid superficiality.

As diversity matters, and many different profiles of students and personalities will be welcomed, you should give examples and focus on your experience and self-assessment to provide insights on the learner you will be and future graduate you could become.

Are you thinking about joining an industry that your profile doesn't necessarily suit? Are you afraid your atypical path may not serve you well?

These may be the differences that will be interesting for the program cohort in the end.

Of course, any original or remarkable experience can be shared. If you have not yet accomplished something significant, or lack international experience for instance, think about what could compensate as your own winning qualities.

What matters is also what you have learnt from your experiences. Connect this with what you really want to pursue if you join a program - this will help the program and admissions team fit you into your future learning environment.

One useful tip is to think and express why this program is suitable for you, highlighting your qualities, rather than what you expect from the program and the business school.

At this point, admissions is more about what you will bring to the class, professor and program, rather than the opposite.

3. Know what's expected for general versus specialized masters programs

Depending on your level of seniority and your profile, the expectations and impact will not be the same.

If you are applying for a generalist program (usually with a longer format), it may make sense to still consider different professional possibilities if you do not have a definite project.

Your winning qualities will entail the link between your previous academic path and your next step: self-awareness and skills.

In the end, even if you will deepen your perspectives during the program, with employability as a final outcome, the gap should not be too large. Your winning qualities when applying for a specialized program, will more likely be for the program and admissions depending on: how familiar you are with the activity sector/domain; if your interest is not superficial; if you match with the environment criteria.

Next Read: 

MBA Vs Masters: Which Should You Choose?


Student Reviews

emlyon business school




On Campus

Intense courses, helpful professors

I am an international student in my 3rd year and I love going to this school and do not regret chosing it for my BBA. The classes are helpful, professors are always there to help as well and we have a very understanding administration.




On Campus

Leadership in an amazing city

I decided to do my exchange in Emlyon because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and I found a space with very capable People.. participatory, empathetic and full of leadership. I will never forget Lyon, apart from giving me an unforgettable experience, he gave me great friends




On Campus

A lot of opportunities professionally and socially. A unique program in France.

You can choose your courses and do your internship, exchange whenever you want. It's flexible and adapted to the needs of each student. A great program and a great city! Professionally, it opens a lot of doors for you to find internships or jobs in France or abroad thanks to the network and career events.




MSc in Digital Marketing

Combining both worlds into one, this course gave me all the on-demand technical skills in data science while maintaining a business-oriented approach. Thanks to the strong academic profile of this university I was able to secure an internship and full-time job at Amazon.




Top Business School fostering innovative entrepreneurs

EMLyon is one of the best business schools. The campuses, associations and courses offered provide the students with the best options to build the future they have chosen. The various opportunities to study and work abroad also offer a deeper understanding of the world, not only economy-wise but social, which helps the student become as well a better individual and not only a pre-formated business school student.




Emlyon campus in Paris

It has a great international community and you have access to many international tools, courses and professors. I had many networking events and workshops for students. Campus and some details of the program could have been improved or need to be bigger in order to have a better student life.




On Campus


Overall good content and good activities. Lack of administration but still ok. Good flexibility and liberty offered to the students. Finally, the amount of internship is also a good way to improve qualifications.




Good Reputation and International Business School

The course was not well adapted but it was up to the mark. The professors are very well experienced and their experience comes in handy while working on assignments. The facilities on the campus are top class. Truly professional. I really like spending time in the learning hub and using all the available resources. Lyon is an amazing city. You will never get bored.