Should I do a Masters?

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Further study gives you the chance to advance your career, develop your skills and pursue your passions...

You'll find a huge range of Masters degrees available in the Country if you're contemplating postgraduate study. Yet while the idea of being accepted onto a postgraduate programme can be an exciting prospect, further study often comes with a hefty price tag and the tendency to be all-consuming. You therefore must have a clear reason for committing to a course, such as wanting to:

  • change your occupation;
  • gain entry to a profession;
  • progress up the career ladder;
  • develop your research skills;
  • pursue a passion for a specific subject;
  • specialise in a particular area.

How can postgraduate study improve my career?

A postgraduate qualification has the potential to enhance your job prospects. Indeed, it gives many students the perfect platform for entry into their preferred field.

Even if you already have a job, this higher degree may allow you to progress up the career ladder more quickly or provide you with the tools to do something completely different.

Coming from a Royal Navy background, Michelle Juchau found that the PgCert Occupational Health and Safety Management that she gained from the University of Portsmouth enabled her to embark upon an exciting new challenge.

Now course leader in MSc Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management at the University of Portsmouth, Michelle appreciates how tough the decision to undertake further study can be - both in terms of finances and the effort required to attain this higher qualification.

'When you are already established within a profession the thought of leaving to pursue another career can be extremely daunting,' she admits. 'For me, it seemed impossible. How could I retrain and still pay the mortgage?

'That is when I discovered that there was an option to study for a new career while continuing to work as a Royal Navy officer. I was deployed at sea for a large amount of time but I was able to get all of the information that I needed in advance and work through it all at my own pace.'

This is not to say that it was all plain sailing on her journey towards a career in occupational health. Indeed, Michelle admits that gaining her postgraduate qualification was challenging.

'The support from the faculty was superb,' she adds. 'They push you to succeed and improve, but understand the demands placed on you when you are completing a learning-at-work course. The hard work paid off and I landed a fantastic job prior to leaving my old one.'

What skills and knowledge will I develop?

In addition to providing a gateway to a particular profession and giving you the personal satisfaction of being able to explore your chosen subject at a more advanced level, further study can also help you to develop a wealth of transferable skills in analysis and critical thinking.

Tom Laws, adviser at the National Careers Service, explains that there are numerous benefits to focusing on something more specialised at postgraduate level.

'Many students undertake a postgraduate degree as an advanced qualification represents the next step on their professional journey, or offers them an opportunity to advance or change their career,' he explains. 'Other students undertake postgraduate qualifications because of a passion for a particular subject or discipline, following a path of lifelong learning.

'Whatever the motivation for learning, postgraduate study allows individuals to become more of an expert in a particular area, while updating their knowledge and skills.'