If you are considering postgraduate study, or wondering why it might be a good option to explore, then these helpful tips will give you some guidance on its benefits.
Continuing an Interest
If you enjoy studying a specific subject and always have done, then the chances are you will thrive again at postgraduate level and enjoy the extra challenge of more freedom but higher demands. However, while simply continuing your studies may be interesting to you, that is not always enough to justify the additional time and expense. Think about whether the course is necessary to your career plans. All programmes offer you the chance to develop your skills and bolster a CV, but consider how useful they will be when you start looking for that first job.
A Career Requirement
Pursuing some careers, such as teaching or law, requires you to study for a professional qualification. You do not have much choice but to get stuck into those books again! In others, such as business or personnel, a postgraduate qualification will set you apart from the many undergraduates competing alongside you for a position. Research into whether a course would be helpful – there are some hints and tips in our Researching and Rating Courses article.
A Skills Bonus
Postgraduate courses will very often help you find a job and get on in the workplace because of the additional skills they provide you with. Sometimes, however, on-the-job training is more favourable for employers who can then take on undergraduates and prepare them for a specific role. If you have a specific career in mind, speak to employers to find out which course, if any, would help you get a job. If not, find a course that offers skills that will be helpful in the workplace and are not merely academic exercises.
You can use postgraduate study to convert to a new career area, normally through a taught Masters or diploma/certificate qualification: these will equip you with the new knowledge you need. You may need to display a keen interest or competence at your new discipline in order to be accepted onto a course very different from that of your undergraduate years, though. Some career-specific courses include the MSc Information Technology for non-IT graduates seeking a computing career. Similarly, non-law and Scottish law students must take the Common Professional Examination (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to convert to law in England and Wales. The one-year course covers the main elements of a law degree.
Studying While You Consider Your Options
It is perfectly acceptable to study for enjoyment or as a productive way of coming to a decision about what you want to do in terms of career plans – plenty of graduates spend months working dead-end jobs trying to decide on their next major step. However, if you choose to go into postgraduate study for this reason, do spend your time researching your options when you finish and even doing work experience or an internship in the meantime. There is no point in expending the extra effort of further study if you do not maximise the advantage it gives you.
A Tutor’s Advice
If you perform well at undergraduate level, you may find your tutors suggest you take your studies further, maybe even with the guarantee of funding it you are very lucky. But just because they say it is right for you, does not mean that it is. First think about whether it is the right option from a personal perspective, using the headings outlined above, then think about where you want to study. Tutors will very often expect you to continue at their institution as well so do consider if you would like to take the opportunity of moving to a different university for further study, or if staying put is better.
CareerPlayer talks to experts about why postgraduate study can add value to your career.