Guide to Postgraduate Applications • Postgraduate

Understanding Postgraduate Application Outcomes

POSTED ON 12/28/2022 BY The Red Pen

Understanding Postgraduate Application Outcomes | The Red Pen

After spending weeks perfecting your postgraduate application, practising video essays and submitting your application, the only thing left to do is wait for your admissions results. However, knowing that the last few admission cycles have been the toughest ever, it’s hard to stay calm and wait for the results. The Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, for instance, received 11,344 in 2021, admitting only 1,108 applicants. What decisions did the other 10,238 applicants receive? What results can you expect from your applications? In this post, we answer all your questions about postgraduate application outcomes.

When do universities respond to your postgraduate applications?

Most universities review postgraduate applications only after the printed deadline has passed, which usually falls between December and February. Decision letters are usually sent in April, although some universities may choose to respond earlier.

What are the four most common application outcomes?


Congratulations! The university has offered you a place. Now, you need to respond and pay your deposit within an allotted time, which is usually a month. Even if you are waiting to hear from other universities, it is important to secure your spot at one university by paying a non-refundable seat deposit.

How to choose a college if I have multiple offers?

You have likely applied to more than one university, so what should you do if you get accepted at all? Receiving multiple offers is an enviable position, but selecting a programme that best suits your needs can be overwhelming.

Here are a few things to consider before you accept and decline offers:
1) University location:

Would you prefer a university in a fast-paced, vibrant city, or do you want to study in the countryside? Ideally, you should base your decision on the programme you select. For example, if you’re pursuing a master’s degree in law, a city university is better as it offers opportunities for internships. On the other hand, if your area of focus is veterinary medicine, you may wish to select a university with readily available resources for animal medicine or one that has a clinic for animals on campus.

2) Costs:

Pursuing a master’s degree is expensive. Study the expenses you will incur at each university that offers you admission. Consider tuition fees, the cost of living and financial aid options before accepting and declining offers. Depending on your financial situation, this alone could make or break your decision!

3) Programme resources and facilities:

Look at each college’s facilities and resources and consider accepting offers from those that meet your needs the best. These resources include laboratories, libraries, grants, teaching assistantships and summer fellowships. Remember to refer to the graduate course catalogue.

4) Consult current students:

You should also contact students pursuing programmes where you’ve just been accepted. Do they enjoy working with their professors? Do they feel they have been given enough guidance and opportunity to develop their research? Are they pressured to follow a certain methodology? What are the positives and negatives of the department and the school at large? The answers to these questions may help you make your decision.


Understandably, no one wants to receive this response. If rejected, you cannot apply for the same programme during the same intake. You can, however, request guidance on strengthening your application for the next intake, but not every university obliges you with that information.

There are several reasons to deny admission:

  1. Insufficient capacity: Most universities cite this reason to applicants.
  2. Entry requirements: UK universities primarily deny admissions to applicants who do not meet the minimum grade requirement.
  3. Mismatched profile: In the US, universities have a holistic approach to admissions. As such, the reasons for denial can vary from a low GPA score to an unimpressive profile and lack of unique engagements.

What can I do if I’m rejected?

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wanted to pursue his master’s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, he got rejected and went to Stanford University, where he met Larry Page. Together they redefined the internet. Even though it doesn’t feel like that at the time, getting a letter of denial is not the end of your career.

Here are a few things you can do if you are denied admission:
1) Revisit your qualifications:

Check if your undergraduate GPA and GRE or GMAT scores meet the programme’s academic requirements. Based on that, revise your target schools. Also, consider that your undergraduate coursework may not have laid a sufficient foundation for your prospective graduate programme.

2) Reevaluate your application:

Did you leave anything out in your application? Did you devote adequate time to your application? Was your statement of purpose compelling enough? These are a few questions you must ask yourself so that you can submit a better application in the next intake. If you still can’t figure out why a university denied admission to you, get a counsellor to analyse your application.

3) Strengthen your profile:

Once you have a fair idea of what didn’t work in your application, use the next few months and build on the weakest part of your profile. Some ways to do this are by enrolling for an additional course, retaking certain exams, working on your writing skills or getting an internship.

4) Consider other options:

If your application to every programme gets rejected, there are still some options for you. Most US, UK, Canadian, Singaporean and European universities have one fall intake in August, September or October. However, there are exceptions. For example, the Master’s in Public Health programme at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the US has a spring intake, while the finance programme at HEC Montreal in Canada has a winter intake. If all your applications get rejected for the fall intake in the northern hemisphere, you can still explore the southern hemisphere as universities here have two intakes. In Australia and New Zealand, you can apply for either Semester I in February or Semester II in July.


If you’ve been waitlisted, it means that the university cannot admit you right now but is willing to consider your application. Waitlists exist because the university needs more information, wants to verify certain data or wants to see how many people confirm their seats.

What should I do if I’m on the waitlist?

If you are waitlisted, don’t lose heart. Wait for the first round of applicants to make their decisions as many may not accept an offer of admission, opening up some spots in the programme.

Here are a few things that you can do that might just get you off the waitlist:
1) Write a letter of continued interest (LOCI):

If your heart is set on a programme, let the university know about it by responding to their decision with a LOCI. Writing a LOCI demonstrates that you are eager to attend an institution and universities are more likely to offer admissions to applicants willing to enrol. Read this blog post to learn how to write a LOCI.

2) Follow the instructions:

Sometimes, you may end up on the waitlist because the university requires certain details before making a final decision. In such a case, requests for additional documents or follow-up interviews are common. Some colleges may take a more proactive approach by providing suggestions for improving your application. They might suggest you retake an exam, join a class or request you to provide clarification on an essay. We recommend that you respond promptly and professionally to requests, feedback or suggestions.

3) Get an additional recommendation letter:

Sending an additional recommendation letter or two might help your case. Ask a faculty member from your undergraduate course or your alumni interviewer to write this letter. Ensure it’s not the same person who wrote your letter previously.

4) Request a follow-up interview:

Offer to come to campus and explain why you believe that you’re a good fit for the programme one last time. Few universities may consider your request, but it’s worth trying.

Interview request:

Sometimes, universities call for an interview before accepting or denying admission, even if it’s not a mandatory component of your application. These are usually alumni interviews or semi-formal chats with the admissions teams. Getting called for an interview is usually a good sign. While universities use interviews to gauge if there are any red flags before they offer you admission, it allows you to ask programme and university-specific questions and show the university that you are an ideal candidate.

We recommend that you read the email carefully and meticulously follow instructions. For example, some interview call emails may provide a link and say, “If you want us to know you better, feel free to schedule a meeting with us”. Always take them up on the offer. Proactively scheduling an optional interview will demonstrate your commitment to procuring admission to the university.

To learn more about how to prepare for an interview, read this blog.

What are some other responses I can expect?

Besides the above four, there are a couple of other responses you can expect from universities in the UK, Canada and Singapore.

1) Conditional offer:

If you receive this decision, the university is offering you a place, provided you meet certain conditions. One of the most important conditions is meeting a specific GPA score or percentage. Sometimes, it requires you to provide proof of language proficiency.

2) Unconditional offers:

If you receive an unconditional offer, you’ve secured admission. Universities usually make unconditional offers to applicants who have already met their conditions and academic requirements. Similar to the process in the US, once admitted unconditionally, you must pay a seat deposit to block your seat. This deposit is non-refundable, even if you choose to decline the offer at a later date.

If you are applying to universities in any of these countries, ensure that your cumulative GPA or average percentage meets the university’s expectations. For instance, King’s College London has a minimum eligibility of 2:1, or 65 percent, for its public health-related programme, while the University of Warwick has a 2:2 for a similar programme.

Can I postpone or defer my admission?

If you have changed your mind about attending a university where you were accepted, you can request a deferral. Remember that while some universities have deferral policies, they are not obligated to extend one to you.

In most cases, a deferral is granted for extenuating circumstances, such as when students have experienced significant changes in finances or a personal crisis. Colleges will verify these circumstances before granting you a deferral. Some universities in the US may request you to reapply and give you the option of only sending updated material but with a new application fee payment.

Most colleges, however, do not have a deferral policy. For example, King’s College London will ask you to reapply in the next intake, which means you must submit all your application material again. They will also consider your reason for not accepting their last offer.

At the Red Pen, 99 percent of our applicants receive offers to one of their top choice colleges. Discover more about postgraduate application deadlines and how to put together a master’s application and more such information on our blog. However, if you need any assistance with your application, get in touch with us.