How do you know postgraduate study right for you?
The pandemic has made many people reconsider their career options – the job applicant market is booming, many students are going straight into postgraduate study after their degree and for the first time in five years the numbers entering part-time postgraduate study is growing. But how do you know postgraduate study is right for you?
Should I do a masters?
Of course we’re going to say yes! But in reality, whilst many people have the aim of a masters increasing their employability, there are many different reasons for choosing to study a masters. These include:
- Improving your career prospects at your current employer by adding strategic thinking to your skillset
- Studying something you’re passionate about
- Progressing to a higher level qualification e.g. PhD
- Specifically for a profession, e.g. Solicitor, Doctor,
- To change careers – conversion masters degrees will help you become an accountant, solicitor or teacher for example
UK Masters degrees are highly regarded by employers. Whilst a master’s degree doesn’t guarantee you a job, it certainly improves your chances against other candidates, and demonstrates a willingness to learn and develop in your chosen career. Government incentives such as the Graduate Route Study also make it easier for international students to find employment in the UK after they have graduated.
Whatever your reasons, you need to do what is right for you, so consider the following before you hit apply.
Five things to think about when applying for a masters
- Think about what you want and why Why do you want to study a masters? Is it to progress your career, because you love the subject or just because you don’t know what you want your career to be? Think carefully if it’s the latter. Whilst you’ll gain valuable transferable skills from a masters, they aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to be spending thousands of pounds on a degree in a subject that is completely unrelated to your overall career plan. If you’re not sure, maybe spending a couple of years in a workplace or even a gap year might help give you a better idea of what you want to do.
- Don’t just rely on rankings Although rankings can help your understanding in who are the ‘best’ universities, at a masters level the content of the degree and how closely it relates to what you want are far more important, as would be a masters with a placement if you needed work experience. So make sure you think about your career and how the masters is aligned to your goals. Attend university events to find out more about the module content of the course you’re interested in, as well as if it’s accredited – which could help lead to a professional body qualification as well as a masters.
- Can you afford it? Fees for masters vary, and in some cases, you’ll have additional costs such as relocation, accommodation and living costs to take into account. A lot of universities offer scholarships for alumni and international students, and there are Government funded postgraduate masters loans for UK students. But don’t forget to speak to your employer too, sometimes they fund masters study as part of your development if they believe they will also benefit from your studies, and some employers offer masters apprenticeships where you combine work with part-time university study. Either way, make sure you review all the costs before making a decision.
- Is it the right qualification? Not all masters are the same. Some are accredited, some are designed to directly lead into a professional qualification and some do not. For example, if you want to train to be solicitor, and have not studied this at an undergraduate level previously, you’ll need a masters like our Law Conversion LLM, which will prepare you for the professional SQE qualifications and Qualifying Work Experience required to become a solicitor. Likewise, if you’re interested in adding accountancy to your skillset, but don’t want to qualify as an accountant, you’d choose our non-accredited Finance and Accounting MSc over our ACCA accredited Accounting MSc – which covers all the content required for ACCA exams to become a Chartered Certified Accountant.
- Is it the right university? Even if you know what you want to study, it can be hard to choose where to study. Just like with their courses, the feel of each university is different too – some are more academic, focused on research whilst others can be more focused on employability. Where a university, and its accommodation, are based in relation to a city will affect how much of the community you feel too. Ideally, in terms of your studies, you want an institution that has a passion for the same subject that you want to study. Visit their open days, online events and even speak to alumni to find out what it’s really like to study there. And don’t forget to check the support they offer to students as well as their entry and language requirements, fees and the local area before choosing.
We hope this post has helped, but if you have any more questions about what it’s like to study here please feel free to ask us a question. You also might want to check out our Student Bloggers blog for an honest view from all Brighton’s students!