After completing your Undergraduate Degree you will most likely ponder the idea of continuing Higher Education by studying towards a Postgraduate course. Now for many people this seems like a default option straight out of Undergrad and many of my peers seem to not put much thought into it and end up regretting it shortly after.
I will now tell you my opinion on Postgraduate education and most importantly why you SHOULD and why you SHOULD NOT do it.
Postgraduate study is undertaken only after the completion of an Undergraduate course, typically after your Bachelor’s Degree. To study o Postgrad course you are normally required to have achieved a minimum Degree Classification in your Undergraduate Course ( 2:2 is the minimum although in some Universities 2:1 or 1:1 are required).
There are different types of Postgraduate courses, some of the most common are:
Master’s Degree: a master’s degree is a second-level qualification after you have completed an undergraduate degree. It allows you to gain more knowledge in your undergraduate degree subject, or to go in a completely different direction. You usually study a subject in a lot of depth. You often have long piece of original work at the end. This is called a thesis or dissertation. There are two main types of master’s degrees: taught and research.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA): this degree is an internationally recognised qualification which gives you the skills you need for a successful management career. Normally a few years of work experience are required in order to apply for an MBA.
A Doctor of Philosophy, or doctorate (PhD/DPhil), is the highest academic level a student can achieve. These degrees are very demanding and often lead to careers in academia (as a lecturer or researcher). Most students will complete a master’s degree before they do a PhD, although this isn’t always necessary.
There are several reasons why Postgraduate Courses may be a great solution for you:
To specialise: You may have enjoyed your Undergraduate course. Maybe you realised that a particular field is very fascinating and you would love to dig a bit deeper. A Postgraduate Course can help you further develop your knowledge in that field.
i.e. Alison decides to study a generic Business Degree. She will study as part of this course modules on Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Economics, Etc.. Throughout her course, Alison realises that Marketing is very interesting. For this reason she decides to study a Master of Science (MSc) in Marketing. This way she could be more prepared to start her career as a marketing professional.
To progress your career in your current organisation: It is not unusual for professionals to go back to higher education after working in an industry for some time. MBA specifically target high-level professionals. If you want to climb the corporate ladder in a particular organisation and an MBA can be great. It can equip you with the right management tools and techniques. This allows you to go back to your company and take on a much more senior role. This often comes with managerial duties and a sizeable pay increase.
i.e. Andrew landed a job as a Finance analyst straight after his Bachelor’s Degree. After 6 years with the same firm and after a few promotion he decides to go back to University and study for an MBA Part-Time, his firm decides to sponsor him by paying for the tuition fees. After the completion of his Degree Andrew is able to get a much more senior role in his company and becomes the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of his firm.
To delay “real life”: I am trying not to preach from my soapbox here since very recently i was almost doing the exact same mistake and many other graduates are too.
You should not start a Postgrad course because you want to avoid the working life and want to continue being a student. Personally, I loved my student life and I am probably going to miss them sometimes but I think that the decision to start a Master’s Degree should not be taken lightly, and you should have very clear reasons in your mind for that choice.
Many people end up studying a Master’s course they do not enjoy. They often do it just to postpone the problem of “What do I do with the rest of my life?” (Read Bex Sutton’s great article on this topic RIGHT HERE) but chances are that in a year or two, after your course ends, you will face with the exact same dilemma, with the only difference of being a few thousand pounds poorer than before. If you chose a Postgrad course make sure it is for the right reasons.
Because everyone else is doing it: this might seem stupid but a lot of people actually do it. During your Undergraduate years you may have made many close friends and it is tough to stop seeing them everyday after graduation. This may lead to applying for Postgrad courses just to be around some of your Uni friends. Relationship are important, but if you really care about certain people you will find a way to keep in touch. Make sure that you choose independently of what your friends do.
Postgrad study can be a great idea and it can boost your career and open many doors as a professional. Make sure you take this step consciously and for the right reason. If you decide to commit to such courses be prepared to study hard and put in 100% so that you can make the most of the experience.
Read my earlier article about graduation: Graduation… Now What?
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