10 Reasons Why Postgraduate Study Might Be Right For You | Top Universities

10 Reasons Why Postgraduate Study Might Be Right For You

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Ella Patenall

Updated Jan 14, 2022



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By Oliver Hurcum

While you probably won’t have given much thought to postgraduate degrees before your final year of university, there are plenty of reasons to consider staying on for further study after you graduate.

As with all potentially life-altering decisions, there are pros and cons. On the one hand, pursuing a higher-level qualification can improve your job prospects by developing your hard and soft skills. On the other hand, the extra time spent at university might be put to better use getting a foot on the career ladder. Plus, it’s not like degrees are that cheap.

If you’re currently sat on the fence, unsure whether a postgraduate degree is right for you, here are 10 things to ask yourself which should help you make your mind up.

Does your dream job require a postgraduate qualification?

This is probably one of the more important questions to ask yourself, as in particular areas such as science, technology, engineering, and maths, there are more likely to be roles available to postgraduates only.

Even if a role doesn’t specifically require a postgraduate degree, a higher-level qualification is hardly going to hurt your chances.

Would a postgraduate degree help you stand out from the crowd when applying to jobs?

Could you benefit from extra networking opportunities?

Unless you’re seriously career-driven, you’re unlikely to have had much networking experience during your time as an undergraduate – too many hours spent in bed, at the club, or in crisis mode at the library.

As a postgraduate student, you’ll have much more of an opportunity to connect with people – not just other students, but, importantly, faculty members too. Those contacts will come in handy when you’re ready to enter the field professionally.  

Have you got personal skills you know still need improvement?

Graduate study hones some of those key skills which were only just starting to mature properly while you were at an undergraduate level.

For instance, failures and setbacks in your work help develop your perseverance and problem-solving skills, and you’re more likely to experience these at postgraduate level. Giving presentations during seminars and conferences, something which is common in some postgraduate fields, will also develop your public-speaking and communication skills. On top of this, writing work to be submitted for examination or peer review will develop your research, critical thinking and writing skills.

Do you want to give your future earnings a boost?

According to the Sutton Trust, someone with a postgraduate degree can expect to earn roughly £5,500 (US$7,845) more per year than someone holding only a bachelor’s degree. This amounts to £220,000 (US$313,770) more over a 40-year working life.

Are you eligible for a scholarship or other financial aid?

While it’s often pointed out that postgraduate study is a serious financial commitment, it’s worth noting that if you’re able to secure funding, it can actually cost you very little.

Universities usually have a host of scholarships available, and The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding lists hundreds of charities offering bursaries to students on the basis of their home town, religion, parental occupation, and so on.

Do you really enjoy being at uni?

While its undeniable that studying has its stresses, it can also be great fun. You’re spending your time working on a subject which (hopefully!) fascinates you, with access to great resources and other minds.

While undergraduate courses often cover a wide variety of subject areas, graduate study usually provides an opportunity to delve much deeper into niche areas of interest. Also, you will often be living in a university environment, meeting lots of new people and participating in a wide variety of clubs and societies.

Would you want to study full- or part-time?

Of course, postgraduate study is intensive and can take up a lot of time while you are actually enrolled on the course. However, full-time courses typically last just 12 months, so you can be done with your studies within a year. If you want to, there’s also normally the option to study part-time, perhaps alongside a full-time job.

Although this takes twice as long (24 months), this is still hardly a significant delay to you entering the world of work properly, and allows you to gain some work experience on the side too.

Do you relish the idea of contributing to your chosen academic field?

As an undergraduate, you spend your time understanding the existing knowledge in your field, but as a postgraduate, you start to contribute to that knowledge yourself. Employment outside of academia doesn’t always provide the same opportunity to make a difference, so take advantage of this chance while you can.

Do you want some extra letters after your name?

This is possibly the vainest reason to choose a master’s degree (and shouldn’t be your only motivation!) but it’s nice to be able to say you’re an MA or MSc. Of course, whether you should actually go around introducing yourself in that way, or adding the letters to your name on Facebook, is another matter.

Oliver Hurcum writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps career starters find the perfect job, in everything from sales jobs to marketing internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

Lead image: Simon Fraser University (Flickr)

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