"Should I do a Master's degree?" It's a question that has crossed the minds of so many university students for years. Studying for a Master's is an exciting proposition that requires careful introspection and consideration. There are many factors at play and you need to be certain before investing your time and money into this endeavour.
Fortunately, we're here to support you. This guide will take you through the major considerations of studying a Master's to help you make your decision. But first, let's look at the benefits.
A Master's degree offers many more benefits than just a qualification. Other benefits include:
Master's study requires dedication and potentially a lot of money. In most cases, you'll also need some experience for entry onto a programme. In order to make the most of postgraduate study it's vital to have a solid reason for committing to a course.
According to the Higher Education Academy's Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2017, the most popular reasons for studying for a Master's are:
A Master's degree can also aid a career change, help you to gain chartership and provide you with useful industry contacts and connections. Most people study for a Master's in order to progress their careers, which brings us on to another important question…
A Master's degree will improve your chances of getting a job. They are highly regarded by employers. While a Master's degree doesn't guarantee you a job, figures show that graduates and post graduates have higher employment rates than non-graduates.
Some people think that due to the fact that more people are becoming graduates than ever, the value of a degree is decreasing. Studies show that this isn't necessarily the case. All it means is that graduates face stronger competition from their peers.
Postgraduates are more likely to be in high-skilled employment. In 2017, 77% of all working-age postgraduates were in high-skilled employment, compared with 65% of all working age graduates. 73% of postgraduates under the age of 30 were in high-skilled employment.
This data shows that a Master's can help get you a job in a managerial or higher role after university. For some roles, such as a clinical psychologist, lawyer or social worker, a Master's degree is an essential entry requirement.
Having a relevant Master's degree under your belt could give you a crucial competitive edge in the aforementioned crowded job market. With so many graduates in the field, postgraduates can stand head and shoulders above the crowd.
If you're already working in your preferred industry, a Master's degree could lead to rapid career progression. Higher-level qualifications demonstrate your ability to commit to intense workloads and shows your commitment to personal development.
Obtaining a Master's degree can be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally draining. Therefore, you need to weigh up your reasons for studying a course carefully.
As a rule, Master's study is cheaper than doing an undergraduate degree, although fees vary widely. Postgraduates earn considerably more than their undergraduate counterparts.
Full-time employed, working-age postgraduates earn a median salary of £39,000, compared with £33,000 for working-age undergraduates. Full-time employed postgraduates under 30 years of age had a median salary of £28,500 in 2017, compared with £25,000 for young undergraduates.
So, if you choose to study a Master's right after your graduate your degree, you'll likely earn on average £3,500 more than if you hadn't. The average fees for classroom-based, taught UK Master's are £7,392. So if all goes well, you'll have effectively paid for your Master degree in a couple of years.
However, there's more to it than just straight numbers. A Master's degree will not automatically boost your earnings. To be certain that studying for a Master's will meet your expectations, and be worth the costs you should:
There are situations where you should avoid Master's study and study a specific industry accreditation or course instead.
If you're looking to study a Master's degree, make sure your goals are crystal clear. Do your research and make sure it's worth the cost. You should also make sure you have the right qualifications to study for one…
You'll usually need at least a 2:1 at Bachelors level, or an equivalent qualification, to study a Master's degree. However, those with a 2:2, a 3rd, or no undergraduate degree at all may be considered provided they have appropriate professional experience. This will be entirely dependent on the course itself and those who run it.
If you're worried that your lower-class degree may affect your chances of gaining postgraduate funding, this won't always be the case. Needs-based funding and postgraduate loans aren't awarded based on academic merit so you should still be eligible to apply.
There are several ways to study for a Master's, which can allow you to fit your studies around your lifestyle.
Full-time study is the most common way to study a Master's degree. It suits continuing students, providing little in the way of lifestyle changes for graduates. You'll have to work harder, of course, but the student life won't change that much.
Full-time Master's study allows you to get your qualification as quickly as possible. Contact hours vary from course to course, but full-time study generally involves several lectures and seminars every week.
Business, law and science courses generally require more contact time than programmes in arts and humanities. Regardless, you'll be expected to dedicate six to seven hours per day to self-study.
Part-time study allows students with family commitments and/or in full-time employment to study for a Master's. Part-time study usually requires 20 hours work every week. While it can take between two and four years to complete, the seminars and lectures are much more flexible.
Lectures and seminars take place during the daytime or evening, allowing you to fit contact time around your other life commitments. Many courses now offer a wide range of online resources, offering people even greater flexibility.
Only you can answer that question. Before committing to studying a Master's degree, ask yourself:
Finally, you need to ask yourself: "Am I genuinely passionate about the subject?" Because without passion, doing a Master's will be so much harder.
If you decide to study for a Master's degree, we're here to help you. We offer professional academic support services throughout your degree, so you can get the most out of your study. Get in touch to find out more.