Scenario 1: You're close to finishing your undergraduate studies and the next big decision in your life is about what to do with it. Start a career? Travel the world? Or will you sit at home watching TV?
Scenario 2: You've been in your job for a while, and now you really want to push ahead. You want to advance your skills and responsibilities and take on this job as a career.
Postgraduate studies may not be for everyone. If you are in either of the above situations, however, you should seriously consider PG study and its benefits. And that's what we're here to do so that you don't have to.
Benefits of PG Study
Advance your career
A postgrad course can further your skills and knowledge in your chosen field. Employers value that experience and often entrust PG-qualified applicants with greater responsibilities. In fact, in some fields a postgraduate qualification is the only way into certain stages of a career, especially so in academia.
In the private sector, postgraduate qualifications are equally valuable. An MBA, for example, may advance your career in business in ways that nothing else can.
The benefits of a postgraduate qualification on your prospects depend on your chosen career. Postgraduates may begin on a higher starting salary and advance more quickly for some lines of work, but for other careers work experience is valued over postgraduate study. Talk to a careers advisor before signing up for a course.
Change your career
Studying for a postgraduate qualification is an ideal way to enter a new career. PG Diplomas and Certificates offer valuable practical training that can help you to convert to a new field of employment.
A Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), for example, is the most common way into primary and secondary school teaching. Advantageously, more and more postgraduate courses and being taught part-time or as e-learning courses, which means you don't have to give up everything in order to study.
If you're coming to the end of your undergraduate studies but you still have the desire to learn and carry out research, a postgraduate course can satisfy your intellectual curiosity.
Postgrad study gives you the chance to really specialize in your field and advance your knowledge. If you enjoy your subject of study then perhaps you have the motivation to move on to a higher degree. In these economically difficult times finding a job is a challenge. Of course, you don't want to enter PG study just to avoid looking for a job, but continuing on to further education while recruitment is at a low makes sense economically.
Enhance your prospects
A postgraduate qualification is an excellent way to enhance your prospects. Not only does a PG qualification help you to stand out from the crowd, but it also shows your commitment and dedication. Research degrees demonstrate your ability to think independently and work towards a goal, while taught courses highlight your ability to learn new skills and ideas.
A postgraduate qualification is by no means a surefire way into your dream job, but it sends out a positive message to recruiters and it does improve your prospects.
One of the biggest drawbacks to postgraduate study is the expense. Tuition fees alone for home students are between £3,000 and £6,000 per year, and some courses cost considerably more. Beyond that, there are your usual expenses for accommodation and living costs. All told, you're going to need quite a bit of green for even a one-year course.
That's where funding comes in. Funding is designed to ease the financial burden of PG study. There are many options for funding from public bodies, charities and institutions. If you are thinking about taking a professional qualification, then your employer may be willing to assist you financially.
There is intense competition for funding, so it is by no means guaranteed. We have extensive information on funding on this site, so please read the following articles for more information:
Postgraduate Study Options
Postgraduate study falls under three general types: taught, research and professional.
Taught courses include Masters programmes, such as Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science. These courses usually take 12 months of intensive full time study. Alternatively, there are part-time or e-learning options that take two years of study.
Research courses are more subject-intensive than taught courses, and allow you greater independence academically. Research courses usually lead to PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or Mphil (Master of Philosophy) status.
Typically, PhD research is carried out over three years, while an ensuing fourth year is spent writing up a thesis. Home students may be able to secure funding for research courses from government grants and other sources, although international students generally have to fund themselves, which can be costly (See funding section above).
Professional qualifications are postgraduate courses that facilitate development or entrance into a particular profession. These courses are recognized by official bodies within a particular industry. Examples include the BVC (Bar Vocational Course) for law, PGCE for teaching, and qualifications within such fields as accounting, journalism and marketing. Your employer may be willing to assist you financially for professional postgraduate