If you’re at uni, especially if you’re nearing the end of your course, you’ve probably considered the possibility of doing a Master’s Degree.
But is it really worth it? Will a Master’s Degree further your knowledge and improve your career prospects by that much?
Or will it just be another year or two of stress, with a nice £10k lump of debt attached to it?
In this post, we’re going to go through all the pros and cons of studying a Master’s Degree to help you make an informed choice on whether this ‘second-cycle’ level of education is really for you.
(FYI, before reading this, we’d recommend taking a look at our previous post explaining exactly what a Master’s Degree is.)
1. Depth Of Knowledge
If you’re particularly passionate about your field of studying, doing a Master’s Degree will help you further your knowledge or give you the chance to specialise in a topic that really interests you. A Master’s degree is not for the faint hearted and should only be pursued by those with a strong drive to further educate themselves and learn more. If you don’t love the subject, it will be a tough slog.
2. Improve Your Skills
Doing a Master’s is great for personal development. During your Master’s Degree you will be expected to confidently carry out a lot of independent study and develop second-to-none research skills. Abilities like this tend to be transferable, improving your chances of employment.
3. The Chance To Study Something New
For your Master’s you can choose to study a topic that is unrelated to your undergraduate degree which is an amazing opportunity if you have a specialist interest that you’d like to develop or explore.
4. The Chance To Study At A New University
Also, you don’t need to do your Master’s Degree at the same university where you undertook your Bachelor’s Degree. If you studied at Durham but always wanted to go to Oxford, you could apply to do your Master’s degree there. Once you graduate and start your career, there is often less of chance to travel, explore and see different parts of the world – doing a Master’s in a new town or city could help you satisfy that urge to see or live in a new place.
5. Prepares You For A PhD
If you intend to undertake a PhD, you will need a Master’s Degree or an equivalent post-graduate qualification. During your PhD, you will need to be a skilled and talented researcher and have the ability and motivation to work alone. These are things that you learn and improve upon when doing a second-cycle qualification.
6. Prepares You For The Working World
Similarly, a Master’s Degree prepares you for the world of employment, more than an undergraduate degree does. During your Master’s, the dynamic changes and you are no longer a student – you’re a researcher working among your peers. The environment is much more professional and can often feel more like a workplace than a place of study.
7. Employment Prospects and Earning Potential
Having a Master’s Degree may improve your position in a competitve job market and help you stand out from the crowd. And according to various pieces of research, those with a Master’s Degree or other post graduate qualifications, typically earn more than those with Undergraduate qualifications.
Furthermore, some careers may even require a Master’s Degree. Some of these jobs include: social work, nursing, marketing, human resources, secondary or higher education,
1. The Cost
Of course, a Master’s Degree doesn’t come for free, with tuition fees setting you back anything from £4,500 to £30,000 depending on where, what and how you study. And that doesn’t include the actual cost of living…
You can apply for loans to cover your tuition fees but it is a huge lump sum to add to your existing mountain of debt. The earning potential for those with postgraduate qualifications is higher but of course you’re not guaranteed a stable job at the end of it. So before embarking on a Master’s Degree, you’ll really have to consider the value for you and the chance of ‘return on investment’, so to speak.
2. The Commitment and Workload
Many students describe a Master’s Degree as a three year Bachelor’s Degree squashed into one year. It’s much more intense and requires a lot of work. No more skipping lectures to cope with a hangover – you need to have the motivation to go to every class and work hard on your own.
3. The Social Side
Doing a Master’s Degree will give you the chance to meet new people, regardless of whether you’re staying at the same uni or studying somewhere new. However, it can be a solitary and sometimes lonely experience and the majority of your time will be spent working and studying on your own at home or in the library. It won’t be the life you had as a baby faced Fresher…
Accommodation can be quite hard to secure as a Master’s student as the majority of on-site university accommodation is reserved for Undergraduates. You’re therefore more likely to have to seek out private accommodation which is usually more expensive and not as close to your university.
5. The Time
Doing a Master’s degree will take anything from one to three years, depending on various factors. This can seem like a long time, especially when you see your graduated friends getting started on their careers, while you’re still studying. Although doing a Master’s degree will ultimately benefit your professional life, it can sometimes feel like you’ve stalled, whilst others are progressing and moving forward.
Furthermore, your Master’s will require your undivided attention during this time. If you want to do well, your life will have to revolve around it which means less time for other pursuits.
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I'm the blog editor for Uni Baggage! I write about university life and all things student related.