CCMF class photo Completing an application for an MSc programme can be a daunting prospect. Even candidates who have fully researched the application process and entry requirements, often still ask us ‘What does the ideal candidate look like?’

Our programmes are very competitive, which means that we look closely at all aspects of an application, not just your academic record. While of course academic achievement is very important, and you must meet the academic entry requirements for the programme you are applying for, there are many other important aspects to the application.

At Imperial College Business School, we are looking for well-rounded, motivated candidates who can bring more to the table than just a strong academic record. We want to see what differentiates you from the hundreds of other applicants who apply to our MSc programmes!

While work experience and internships that are directly relevant to the programme you are applying for can strengthen your application, do not underestimate the value of transferable skills. As many of our MSc programmes are designed for new and recent graduates, if you have minimal work experience, you will not be alone!

Think about where you may have picked up transferable skills that will benefit your MSc studies and future career. This is useful to start thinking about now as employers will also be looking for candidates who can bring more than just academics to their company. This will be the distinguishing factor between you and thousands of other similar people.

The vast majority of the successful students who join our MSc programmes have done one or some of the following:

Have hobbies or interests outside of their academic lives. This could involve being an active member of a society at university (sports, dancing, cooking, drama… the list is endless!) or spending time volunteering or raising money for a cause that means a lot to them.

Have international experience. This could be through studying or living abroad for your entire university studies or as part of it. If you haven’t studied abroad, then it could be through volunteering, travel or other activities during your holidays.

Speak additional languages. For many of you, English is already an additional language and it isn’t uncommon for our students to be fluent in four or five languages which can increase their employability. If English is your native and only language, do not worry – there’s lots of opportunities to learn or improve on your language skills whilst at Imperial both through formal classes and also peer to peer support from your class mates. 

Have had a positive impact on their community. This could be through representing a region or country at sports, or something more altruistic such as mentoring young people to making changes to your university experiences through student leadership. We now offer a £20,000 Social Impact scholarship for applicants with outstanding citizenship and commitment to supporting their community and social causes so this is certainly something that we are keen to hear about in your application and in the additional essay.  

Have thought about their immediate career goals after graduating from their MSc. You will be entering a highly competitive recruitment market upon graduating and we want to see that you have already thought about the skills and experience you are going to need to succeed in your target organisation and role. If you are planning on setting up your own business, we want to see that you have thought about what expertise or product your business will deliver and that you have researched the market you wish to enter.

Most importantly, our students are eager to share their experiences, support their colleagues, and teach as well as learn from their peers. This comes across in their applications, interviews, when they are here as students and afterwards as part of our alumni network.