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How to get into the London School of Economics (LSE)

How to get into the London School of Economics (LSE)

For Undergraduate (UG) and Masters (MS) degrees

The London School of Economics, or the London School of Economics and Political Science, or LSE, established in 1895 by four Fabian Society members that included George Bernard Shaw, is located in Westminster, central London.

The LSE is a public research university that joined the federal University of London in 1900. It started granting degrees under the name of the university in 1901 but switched to awarding degrees under its own name in 2008.

LSE is among the top universities in the world and attracts students and professors from all over the world. Nearly 70 percent of LSE’s students are from outside the UK and come from 155 countries. In 2017-18, of the nearly 12,000 total students, over 8,000 were from outside the UK.

In 2018, LSE had 296 students from India, 80 at the undergraduate level and 216 at the graduate level.

Obviously, for a school of LSE’s caliber, the competition for places is tough. In 2017, the school received over 21,000 applications for 1,600 places.

Staff from over 100 countries work there. The school has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners so far.

Undergraduate programs at LSE

LSE offers about 40 three- or four-year BA and BSc undergraduate programs with various majors ranging from Accounting to Econometrics and from International Relations and History to Management and Laws.

What LSE looks for

LSE takes into account all the information presented in the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) application and recruits students with “the best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.”

It expects applicants to have at least two full A-levels or IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) Higher Levels in subjects, though many applicants may offer three or four.

The application information considered includes academic achievement (with predicted and achieved grades), subject combinations, personal statement, teacher’s reference, and educational circumstances (requirements may vary for programs and can be found on the LSE website).

LSE looks at your grades from two years preceding your application. Any qualifications, such as A-levels or AP, which you have not completed but expect to complete in summer, may be listed, too.

For applicants from India, Standard 12 certifications from the CISCE, CBSE, and other boards with an overall average of 85-90 percent or percentages of marks or above 85 or 90 in each subject are accepted, depending on the board.

If English is not your first language, then you need to get an English language qualification. You will need to provide proof of English language requirements at the time of admission, though this is not necessary during the application process.

LSE goes by the information given on your application form and doesn’t normally conduct interviews. What it really wants to see in your application and personal statement is your academic motivation and whether you are academically passionate about what you want to study, whether you have a considered interest in the degree you have chosen, and whether you have demonstrable evidence of this.

Personal statement

LSE advises you to ensure good grammar, punctuation, and spelling in your personal statement, which is like an essay about yourself and gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your competitiveness, as the school doesn’t conduct interviews.

The statement should also following a logical order and should be written after some substantial research into your target course. For the most part, it should deal with your academic interest, and only about 20 percent of it should be spared for any description of your extracurricular interests.

When writing the statement of purpose, you could ask yourself why you have chosen the course, whether the interest was triggered by a subject/activity outside your school studies, whether you have gained skills from studying other school subjects, whether you have attended programs at LSE or other universities, what you have learned from them, and how they have deepened your interest in your favorite subject.

Teacher’s reference

A guide to teachers on how to provide a reference to LSE applicants requests them to provide realistic predictions of their students’ academic achievements and their capacity to take up university-level studies, keeping the students’ performance in the context of the institution’s overall achievement, their capacity for hard work, attitude to study, suitability for the chosen program, ability to think for themselves, family circumstances, and gaps in study, if any.

Subject combinations preferred

Along with individual applicant’s qualifications, LSE also considers subject combinations offered by applicants. It deems “traditional academic subjects” the best preparation to study at LSE.

The school also considers some subject combinations as a less effective preparation for studies at the institution and accepts them only in combination with two “traditional academic subjects.”

A few A-levels are normally excluded from the standard offer of admission and are accepted only along with three full A-levels or equivalent.

The “common traditional academic or generally preferred subjects” range from Ancient History, Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Economics, Electronics, and English to Geography, History, Law, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology.

Common “non-preferred” subjects include Accounting, Art and Design, Citizenship Studies, Communication and Culture, and Creative Writing, Drama and Theater Studies, Film Studies, Home Economics, Leisure Studies, Media Studies, and Travel and Tourism.

Normally excluded subjects include General Studies, Critical Thinking, and Project Work (see the LSE website for the full list).

How to apply

Applications are to be made online, via the UCAS (a guide to completing the application form is available on the LSE website). Applications usually open in September and close in mid-January.

Although international applicants can send their applications from September 2019 to June 2020, LSE advises them to submit it by the deadline in January 2020 (for September 2020 entry; September 2021 for deferred applicants). Applications sent after January 2020 are considered only if there are still places available.

Fee and funding

The LSE tuition fee for new overseas (non-UK and non-EU) undergraduates in 2020 is £21,570 ($27,712). The fee covers registration and examination fees, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements, and membership of the Students’ Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

In addition, students should have a budget of £1,100-£1,300 per month for living expenses, including accommodation, travel, food, laundry, study costs, and other personal expenses.

LSE provides financial support in the form of bursaries and scholarships to students, including those from overseas.

The LSE Undergraduate Support Scheme (USS) provides financial aid to overseas students who do not have the funds necessary to meet the cost of their study. The assistance depends on individual student’s needs, but is usually between £6,000 and £15,000.


LSE Undergraduate admission tips

  • Research the various UG programs and your chosen programs
  • Show that you read and analyze what you read
  • Take part in activities that further your interest in your chosen subject
  • Meet or exceed LSE’s academic requirements
  • Spend time on drafting your personal statement
  • Choose a teacher reference who knows your academic and personal achievements
  • Track your application and wait for eight weeks for a decision


Graduate programs at LSE

LSE’s 160 taught master’s programs, diploma courses, and research programs allow you to study your degree-level subject to a deeper level; they can act as a conversion course from your degree subject, which enables you to acquire different skills; and they can act as research training for more advanced work. Through lectures and seminars, they blend practical experience with academic analysis.

(A “taught master’s program,” which is usually of 12 months’ duration for the full-time program, leads to an MSc or MA degree. It is delivered through taught modules and may include research in the specialized subject. Taught master’s may include continuous assessment, examinations, and submission of a dissertation for a degree.)

LSE offers executive master’s programs for mid-career and senior executives, too, including MSc Finance, Executive Master of Public Administration, research programs for PhD, two-year double-degree programs in collaboration with universities in other countries, and joint degree programs.

Admission requirements

LSE requires for its graduate programs a degree with at least 70 percent marks in the final examination or a GPA of 3.5 (out of 4) or above and proficiency in English. For master’s, a first or upper second class degree in a subject appropriate to the program applied for; for MPhil/PhD, a taught master’s degree appropriate to the subject chosen for research; and for diploma courses, a degree and experience are required.

How to apply

Applicants should open an online account and pay an application processing fee of £75 with a credit or debit card. Two academic references from tutors who have taught you at university have to be given. Current students and those who graduated after January 2018 should provide references from a teaching member of their current or most recent university department.

Those who graduated prior to January 2018 may supply one non-academic reference in place of one academic reference, normally from the most recent employer, and those who graduated before January 2015 two professional references, if they cannot provide academic references.

Scanned transcripts for each qualification have to be uploaded. For qualifications pending, if your university does not issue transcripts of mark sheets, your academic referees should comment in detail about your academic progress and marks obtained in all years of study. For qualifications held, transcripts should include marks and grades.

A clear, concise, and specific statement of academic purpose and a CV with work/internship experience are also needed. GRE/GMAT scores may also be required as also a research proposal for MPhil and PhD applicants and a writing sample of up to 3,000 words for MPhil/MRes (Master of Research) applicants.

The application and supporting documents should be submitted online, but documents can be sent by post to LSE’s Graduate Admissions Office if you’re unable to upload them.

LSE aims to announce decisions within eight weeks. The first offers are released from January. Decisions—authoritative and final only if they are made by the Graduate Admissions Office—can be seen in the application tracker as soon as they are made.

Fees and funding

The tuition fee for overseas students of taught graduate programs varies widely but is in the range of £22,608-£36,984. It is between £22,608 and £29,760 for double-degree programs starting in 2020-2021, and £22,608 and of £30,760 for two-year programs starting in 2020-21. The fee for MPhil and MRes programs for overseas students is £19,368.

LSE offers more than £13 million in scholarships to students, including those from outside the EU. About 19 percent of taught master’s offer holders get access to some financial assistance. The assistance can be between 10 percent of tuition and full fees and maintenance.

Besides, there are needs-based awards for all students, including those from overseas, such as the Graduate Support Scheme and master’s awards. Country-based awards include the Inlaks Foundation and J. N. Tata Endowment scholarships.

LSE Graduate admission tips

  • Check all requirements for applicants from your country
  • Meet LSE’s English language requirements
  • For academic references, choose your thesis chair / academic advisor
  • Ask them well in advance if their names can be given
  • Apply for visa on acceptance


Taking rejection

If you’re accepted, you will get the chance to study in one of the world’s best schools. If not, don’t feel too let down.

Many applicants compete for a few places, and some with perfect scores and some who meet all the requirements are rejected.
Also read:
How to get into the top universities
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18