To do or not to do a Masters course?

Summer 2017 in Cape May 

 That is a question many students ask, especially  this side of Christmas. Should  I consider the option of further study following a first degree? What are the pros and cons? It’s fairly commonplace for students who are predicted  a good degree, i.e. a 1st or a 2.1 or want to get into a particular career to think about studying for a Masters degree and here we will consider both the potential benefits and possible pitfalls of this route. Don’t despair if you are heading for a lower degree, there are options to do a postgraduate diploma and maybe progress into a Masters from that. Although beware as some careers won’t accept a Masters  in lieu of a lower degree so it may not help your progression.

The whole debate around whether or not to embark on postgraduate study can be complex and we will try and look at the issues.

Firstly try and make sure your reasons and motivations for doing this are sound.  It is easy to see this route as a safe option, you can put off any key decisions about employment for longer and carry on being a student for another year.

You may be on a degree courses where you can leave with a Bachelors degree after three years or continue to study for an additional fourth year to get a Masters degree. If this applies to you and you have the funding in place, staying on for another year can seem a strong and viable option worth consideration.

However… in all cases carrying on with study is not for everyone and in all scenarios take time to think about why you want to do this, what it is on offer, what it actually offers, what the alternatives could be and then weighing up if it’s right for you at this stage . Taking some time out between undergraduate and postgraduate study is another option but sometimes it can be easier if you want to do more study to just carry on.  But again this isn’t right for everyone. Remember courses will always be available in future, there is a chance an employer might help with costs in the future especially  if it’s related to the career you are in or you also consider studying courses part time. There is also the option of distance learning. Again though this is going to involve thinking through.

Is it essential?  Our blog last week covered the areas where a conversion course at Masters degree might be essential to starting your career in  a particular  field. If you have done your  research and looks like a Masters is essential then its study or chose another career. Studying for any  Masters degree though can help create more prospects but there are no guarantees it will result in better employment prospects or promotion . That will depend on how you promote yourself and what opportunities can be found and arise.

How long does it take? Generally speaking  1 full  year ( October to September) for a full time Masters and 2 years for part time.  You could also look at working and studying for a Masters part time alongside each other and don’t forget of course to look at Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities which allow you to work for an employer and study a Masters degree or other qualification alongside this ( usually over 2 years).

What could it give me in terms  of personal and career development ? 

  • Additional and advanced skills and knowledge
  • A chance to break into a new area of study and combine an existing area of study with something new
  • Your dissertation  on the Masters degree could be linked to an area of work you are interested in giving you chance  to show this on a CV or application form
  • Possible contact with employers through projects and work experience placements
  • Exemptions from professional courses and help with chartered status – check this with the professional bodies and courses

What is the cost to yourself?

  • If you need to fund this yourself then further costs will be incurred for another year – rent, travel, fees etc. Before going down the self funded route look at potential sources of funding. These aren’t  guaranteed but again worth consideration and someone gets awarded them.
  • An extra year not working?  So a loss of potential earnings for a year?
  • Missing opportunities this year although the same companies tend to recruit year on year so vacancies will arise in future and you would have an additional qualification

There are a number of postgraduate open events on offer and people will there will be available for you to discuss your ideas with.

In addition there are staff at every campus you can discuss your ideas with. Find out more via the link below.

Creative Commons License Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) via Compfight

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Pamela Coppola • 30/01/2018

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