What are the Advantages of Doing a Postgraduate Degree?
Do you need to do a postgraduate degree, or is it all just a load of overhyped nonsense? Well, the postgraduate degree is one of the most popular degrees in the UK, here's everything you need for postgrad study.
Reasons to do a postgraduate degree
A masters gives you the frameworks and skills to think critically and creatively, which, incidentally, is what the economy wants.
The Future Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum states that, by 2020, the desire for narrow core skill sets, such as 'equipment operation' will be in decline, replaced by more sophisticated AI.
It's predicted that once everyone is laid off by robots that the ability to think 'critically' and 'creatively' will be in much greater demand across industries. Indeed, sweeping changes in the workplace reflect this trend: the increase in short term rolling contracts; less attractive pension plans; the breakdown of the 9 to 5 and the slow rise of agile, more flexible working. As it is, the jobs economy increasingly favours creative specialists, those brought in by companies for short to medium term projects, 'task and finish' types who can apply their niche skillset in a creative manner to solve problems, delivering value and then moving on to their next employer. A masters degree will prepare you for this sort of work and, at the very least, give you the language to have the conversations that lead to these sort of projects.
So, in the interest of becoming a creative specialist, here's the advantages of taking a masters degree and why it might make you a more attractive hire.
Turn yourself into a specialist or change your path
There are two broad reasons for doing a masters.
- You want to deepen your knowledge of a specific area of your undergraduate degree, for intellectual or professional advancement
- To change direction. For example, if your degree in English isn't getting you very far in your ambition to become a corporate lawyer, you may want to do a Law conversion masters to develop some core competencies.
Masters are versatile. Whatever your background, you can use a masters to position yourself as an expert in your chosen topic and open doors to new opportunities. Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Buckingham University, James Seymour, says: ‘A lot of students opt to study a masters as a way of converting a general degree, like English, into something more vocational, like Marketing. The skills you gain in an undergraduate programme will be useful, but you can use your masters to focus them and make yourself more attractive to a particular industry.’
It’s a cost-effective way to network
Your masters is more than a collection of lectures, seminars and research.
A good masters degree will invite speakers from industry to share insights and practical advice on advancing in your sector. These sessions are as valuable as your core course content, and would normally be charged at a premium. To attend the most popular industry conferences, you can sometimes pay over £1000 per day to share a speaker with hundreds of other people.
Your masters will give you closed access and the chance to speak 1-to-1 with key figures at a fraction of the price. Conversations like these make it much easier to get started in a career.
Progress in your current role or access more professional opportunities
While undergraduate study gives you a general subject overview, the majority of postgraduate degrees are focused on applicability. Your postgraduate degree demonstrates to existing or prospective employers that you have a niche, relevant and exploitable skillset in your area of study. Institutions like Birkbeck University of London and The Open University trade on this approach, delivering teaching out of typical working hours, encouraging students to think about the direction of their career and keeping teaching focused on ‘skilling up’ for a particular field.
The approach pays off, masters students on average earning more than those punching at an undergraduate level. By doing a postgraduate degree, you have a greater chance of positioning yourself as an expert and therefore more desirable to your target role or sector. Hannah Bartlett, Reader in Optometry at Aston University Says:‘My discipline is health sciences and having a postgraduate degree is very useful for those who wish to create opportunities away from traditional healthcare settings. For example, postgraduate study will support careers in research and clinical science, management, leadership or even the industrial side of health.’
You are more attractive to the international job market
If you are interested in having a global career and not being tied to one country, a masters degree will certainly open doors. Business qualifications, in particular, have a strong international emphasis and some even have heavily subsidised trips overseas to visit university and employer partners. For example, the University of Kent offers exclusive international experiences for postgraduate students, as does The University of Manchester and the University of Greenwich.
In some cases, a full masters (1 year) with an additional six-month placement will still cost the same as a standard 12-month postgraduate degree. So, be sure to do your research and secure the best value.
Katie Fisher, International Promotion and Admissions Manager at NEOMA Business School, says: ‘More companies are looking to hire staff with an international outlook. If you have either studied or worked abroad, due to the skills gained during such experiences (i.e resilience, communication skills and adaptability) you have a real advantage when it comes to entering the job market.
Outside of the UK, it is also important to note that a master’s level degree is often required in order to apply for many positions throughout Europe, even at entry-level. If you would like to give yourself the opportunity to work abroad in the future, it is certainly an advantageous investment.'
Search and compare your perfect masters
The first step is to create your long list. Use the University Compare search feature to quickly find the best postgraduate qualifications for you, your career and the next big step.