There is a department I am interested in, and it offers two distinct MA's. One is more of a broad course (course A), the other one more specialised (course B).

I am interested in two subjects which have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Also assume that there is no overlap. Subject B is covered by course B, but then I would not be doing any of Subject A. Should I get into course A however I could do Subject B as well. However, Subject A has a slight priority to me.

My problem is that I would like to apply to both courses, but I don't know what to say in my statement of purpose. Since it's the same faculty, they will most likely see both my applications. If I say in application A, that I am primarily interested in subject A, and vice versa in application B, that might look deceptive since they will see both applications.

If I say that I am interested in Subject B, and then (should I get onto course A) would change my interests during my studies and opt for Subject A, - this also might not look the best.

There are professors in both subjects who I potentially like to work with, but I am worried to tell them since the subjects are very different and have no overlap, I feel it would just look not very good.

Any advice what I could do in such a situation? How would I best structure my statements of purpose & contact professors about potential supervisions without looking like I am trying to juggle too many balls at once? I also would like to look determined and less insecure about what I want to do, but I would just like to keep both options until I know where I can get in.

2 Answers 2


I am on the admission committee for a fairly prestigious UK MSc and see this kind of thing all the time (indeed, we also get quite a lot of candidates who apply to both our MSc and PhD). More generally, it is very common for (a) intelligent people to have a lot of active interests at once, (b) intelligent people who face many open doors to struggle to choose which one the like most. The admissions guys (who are human beings, not machines!) understand this, and applying to both programmes will almost certainly not upset them.

What will upset them is any sign of insincerity on your part, or any sense that you are trying to game the system by feigning an interest in one of the topics. My advice is therefore:

Treat the two applications as separate opportunities to write the strongest statement you can for each. In particular, think about how you can use the statement to give verifiable evidence that you have a real intellectual interest in the topic. Simply saying "I have a lifelong passion for X" won't convince anybody, so look for ways to send a more credible signal. For example, you could talk about how some readings influenced your thinking, or about some open research questions you think are interesting and how they might be solved.

Likewise, if you talk about what you will do with the degree in the future, try to be concrete and show that you have thought about how the programme fits your needs. What are the specific skills you hope to acquire and what specific modules on the degree will help you to develop those skills?

In your particular circumstances, I think it might make sense to include one or two sentences at the end of the statement acknowledging the fact that you are also applying for another programme. But, again, my advice would be to aim for sincerity rather than trying to play mind games. It should suffice to say that you fell passionate about, and ready to commit to either programme should you have the good fortune to be admitted.


I think that's a very natural doubt you have. Consider, notwithstanding my answer, if you can switch once you've been admitted to any one course. Try to apply​ strongly for one course. But indicate that you are an open minded person in life. Maybe they'll consider you for the one you've not applied to.

  • Hey, thanks for your answer! I have looked into that possibility, and they don't allow it. Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 14:25
  • ok, try to apply​ strongly for one course to make it through to the college atleast
    – DS R
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 16:08

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