Do I need a postgraduate degree?
Looking to learn (more)? A postgraduate degree could be for you…
Postgraduate study is a great way to gain additional knowledge on your chosen subject area, as well as increase your earning potential and career prospects. And with competition for the best graduate roles increasing, going back to university could be the best way to stand out from the competition.
What is a postgraduate degree?
A postgraduate degree is an advanced part of higher education, which usually comes after a bachelor’s degree.The structure of the courses are often similar to undergraduate study, although the work will be more detailed and specific, and may involve an increased amount of self-directed learning.
What are the main types of postgraduate degree?
Postgraduate study consists of a few different degree types – which differ in terms of subject area, learning style, and the type of qualification gained.
These can be broken down into the following areas:
Taught courses (e.g. Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc))
These courses usually last around 1-2 years full-time, and will involve a varied balance of lectures, seminars, project and research work, and a dissertation.
Research degrees (e.g. Doctorates (PhDs) or research-based masters Programmes)
Research-based degrees usually involve more independent and specific learning than taught courses, and last around 3-4 years full-time. Instead of following a set timetable, your degree will usually involve managing your own projects that are primarily led by your own determination and initiative – although you will receive some guidance from a tutor.
What are the entry requirements for a postgraduate degree?
Specific entry requirements will vary depending on the type of postgraduate degree you do – although you’ll always need to have gained an undergraduate degree before studying for any type of postgrad. To do a Master’s degree, conversion course, or professional qualification, you’ll usually need: a minimum of a 2:1 at undergraduate level. However, a 2.2 may be accepted with relevant professional experience.
To do a PhD or a Doctorate, you’ll usually need: a master’s degree with merit (along with a relevant research proposal and impressive academic experience).
Generally, universities will look for graduates with the best possible grades and academic potential when filling their postgraduate places – so making your knowledge and certifications known in your application is vital to standing out.
What are the benefits of gaining a postgraduate degree?
Figuring out if a postgraduate degree is right for you often comes down to establishing the key benefits. From there, you can assess whether they’d help you fulfil your personal, academic, and career goals.
Here are some of the top advantages of gaining a postgraduate degree:
- It’s a great way to progress in your career
- It can help you change careers
- It will increase your earning potential
- It helps towards your personal and academic development
- You’ll be more attractive to employers
- You’ll gain and expand on useful skills
- You could learn something new
What jobs require a postgraduate degree?
There are many roles that require a postgraduate degree to get started or progress, and those with this qualification will often notice a far greater earning potential in a number of fields.
A postgrad is especially important for those wanting to become a specialist Doctor, Nurse, or a Teacher of higher education. And, if you want to work in science or healthcare, a PhD is usually essential to allow you to progress to more advanced roles.
But it’s not just the above fields where a postgrad will make a difference. There are also various other industries where having a postgraduate degree will help you set you apart from the competition.
Can I study part-time or on a distance learning basis?
If you want to make your degree fit around other commitments such as full-time work or raising a family – part-time or distance learning study is a great way to get your qualification without it disrupting your lifestyle and/or income.
Most universities offer these flexible options instead of a full-time schedule, although it will usually mean the length of your course is doubled.
Part-time learning allows you to: use your spare time to study flexibly for your degree (around 20 hours a week), meaning you’ll be able to attend seminars and lectures in evenings and weekends (or days off), or access recordings online.
Distance learning allows you to: study independently from home, without having to attend university directly. You’ll receive help, guidance, and resources online from a tutor, and can work on your degree whenever you’re able to.
There are also a number of other learning options designed to fit around a busy lifestyle – which will vary from course to course.
Do you want to keep learning?
Finally, it’s time to be honest.
Having a postgraduate degree will undoubtedly help improve your chances of progressing in your career, enable you to earn more money, and build your expertise. You’ll also learn essential life skills, have excellent experiences and add real value to your CV (even if your chosen career path doesn’t see a degree as a prerequisite). But, to get the most out of your experience, you’ll need to actually put the work in too.
Aside from the freedom, independence and nights out, there will be hours of lectures, library evenings and late night study sessions. So always be realistic about where you see your strengths.
If you weren’t really a fan of education, postgraduate degree might not be right for you. But if you’re someone that loves learning, and you’re really interested in learning more about your chosen subject, then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Have you considered all the options?
If you’re not sure what to do next, always consider alternatives before making your decision. It might be that you want to start earning money right away, so going straight into full-time work is the best fit for you. Or you might want to learn while you earn.
Other options include a gap year/working abroad, undertaking relevant professional qualifications (especially if you want to work in accountancy or tech, for example) and even distance learning or part-time degree options, if you’re still considering university but aren’t in a position to go full-time.
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