PrepAdviser had the opportunity to meet a representative of Politecnico di Milano (Italy). Our exchanges reveal what it takes to gain admission to the school’s Master’s programs.

[0:09] Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and the school that you represent?

[0:012] A: Sure. My name is Chiara, I work at Politecnico di Milano, in the university’s international marketing and recruitment office. Ours is a technical university based in Milan. It’s one of the best universities in Europe, in the field of architecture, design and engineering. And it’s actually the first Italian university in general.

[0:38] Q: And how can Master’s candidates tailor their application to the program so that they will be seen as the right fit?

[0:45] A: Well, there is a website at www.polimi.it where students can find all the educational offers proposed by the university. There is a contacts area through which students can always reach us. They can find a way to contact us, and my office in particular, and we will just handle their questions. We’ll try to help students find the right program for them. We have a really wide range of programs at the university. So anyone with a background suitable for the programs we offer can easily get in touch and submit their application online through our website.

[1:32] Q: What kind of questions should applicants ask during the interview in order to make a good impression?

[1:41] A: Well, we don’t really have an interview system. Instead we have an exclusively online application system. There’s just one document that must be sent by post. But we do ask students to fill out the steps carefully when they apply, describing their educational background and their interests. They should select the programs that interest them. And, of course, we need to know a little bit more about the students themselves. So we ask for a motivation letter, and ask them to provide a recommendation letter from a professor. Our selection is basically based on the GPA, so this naturally hinges on students’ grades at university. We consider the quality of the university they attended. Also, of course, we consider and evaluate students’ motivation and on the basis of that we select the best candidates.

[2:35] Q: OK, do you have an interview as part of the admission process?

[2:38] A: No, there’s no interview for Master’s programs, only this online application. So students should definitely work hard on their application documents.

[2:47] Q: So the essay must be a very important part of the application process. What would you say is the most important thing to know about the essay in the application?

[2:58] A: The essay – the document we call the motivational letter – is an important part of the application, and of the professor’s evaluation. We just ask students to be concise because you should understand that we get about 10,000 applications a year. Professors are not really likely to read a lot of papers, so you should be concise but clear. Students should just explain clearly their motivation for applying to Politecnico di Milano, make the essay as distinctive as possible and just try to set themselves apart from other students. The aim of this document, in particular, is to impress the professor who has to go through applications from many students with similar backgrounds and grades. They basically decide who to admit based on this document.

[3:52] Q: OK, and what kind of questions, and what kind of common mistakes can applicants easily avoid in their applications to your school?

[4:02] A: OK, the first is if they are in a rush, they could make many mistakes. So we ask them to provide documents about their academic background and that’s easy to find of course. They will also need the course description, basically the content of what they studied before. This is an important document; it might take time to retrieve it, but it’s vital that they do so. Therefore I just suggest that students spend some time on their applications and take care with the documents.

We also ask for the motivation letter we mentioned before, and this also requires some time. Students should ask someone to read it. This could be an individual known to the family, or a family member, or someone from the university. That way you will ensure everything is clear. You may also get suggestions, you know, advice on how to make it clearer or effective. Then, of course, students need to work on the recommendation letter. They should naturally reach out to someone who really likes them. That’s really important. And then there’s the portfolio for students of architecture and design, and I should stress that for them this is the most important document. So they should devote some time to this and ensure they don’t skip any of the steps. Decide which projects to include and maybe consult a professor, a professional in the field, to give suggestions because it’s really important to provide a good portfolio. So certainly the first thing is just not to be in too much of a rush. Also, bear in mind that you’re applying to university, a prestigious university, so you’re not like a child applying to school. It’s vital, therefore, to be professional, to include information about yourself, such as personal details, but do so in a professional manner because that is very important to us.

[6:09] Q: What exams does your university require and accept for admission, for example GRE, IELTS or TOEFL?

[6:18] A: Well, for Master’s students we ask for an English-language certification, it might be TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, Cambridge, so we have some different ones. We have some minimum requirements which we publish on our website. That’s for all the students who want to study in English, or who want to study in Italian. So they should definitely provide this document. Then, for students applying to some specific programs like Management Engineering, Energy Engineering, we ask also the GRE, and so these are the only two documents, the only tests, which are required by the university.

[6:58] Q: Do you have your own tests or something else that you require?

[7:01] A: For Master’s programs, no; for Master’s students there’s no test. For Bachelor students, yes, there is an entrance test which must be taken there, in Italy. For some Bachelor programs we accept SAT or GRE for selection to enter the programs, but for Master’s students there are no additional tests.