Is a master's really worth it?
When graduating from an undergraduate degree you will find a few of your mates discussing the idea of a master’s. With the jobs market as it is you might be wondering if continuing education could be the way to go. Considering master’s degrees are usually very expensive, you will want to be certain that you are getting what you need from your money – namely, will it make you more employable? Is a mater's degree really worth it?
You already shelled out grands for your undergraduate degree (it might not feel like it yet, but that’s the reality) and now you have a choice. If you have the means to fund a master’s, then it looks very inviting – the continued safety of education and a chance to hone skills that might need refinement before entering the working world. On the other hand, it will be delaying you from gaining practical experience and potentially increasing a mounting debt. So what should you look for in a master’s in order for it to be worthwhile?
A master’s degree is usually between one to three years, depending on whether you decide to go full-time or part-time. The two overarching types of master’s are taught degrees and research degrees. Taught master’s degrees are more common and most similar to an undergraduate degree in that they follow a set module guide, including regular lectures and tutorials. They require a greater level of independent study than an undergraduate degree, but generally the course will act as a secure guide towards the end goal. Research master’s degrees are on another level of independence, as they generally consist of one or more projects that are done over a long period of time. While you will still have contact with supervising tutors, the majority of the research work will be done on your own.
As when choosing an undergraduate degree, you should do your homework and think hard about what a master’s will give you. For example, if you studied English Literature and are looking at studying that subject further then research the types of jobs you want to enter into and see if it will help you. Alternatively, if you studied History and now want to get into Software Engineering then a master’s might give you skills and experience that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
Take some time to consider the jump from undergraduate to postgraduate and don’t assume a master’s will be a similar work load to your final year. The work ethic behind a master’s includes being able to be self-motivated. So if you are hoping to hide a less than stellar grade from your undergraduate level remember that a master’s isn’t the easy ride to a job – it’s a hard graft.
Don’t forget to investigate other routes into your new interest. If a change of subject and a new skill are the main reasons behind your choice of master’s, then consider the vast range of postgraduate short courses available. Most are significantly cheaper and offer more flexibility for either long-distance learning or part-time options, which is great if you are considering starting a career at the same time. They are also often more ‘skills-based’, which gets you out of doing a second dissertation (always a plus), and the shorter time span means you won’t be stuck if you realise you aren’t a fan of the course.
Look closely at your own reasons behind wanting to take on a master’s. It’s a fantastic opportunity if you relish studying and want a fresh challenge in education, but think twice if you are simply avoiding the working world. It is daunting when you have just graduated and a lack of relevant work experience can make you feel less prepared than you might like, but being persistent and focused on the industry you want to progress into will see results eventually.
BrighterBox helps graduates through every step of the job application process, from initial interview to the first day. Check out our jobs page to see the roles that are live now.