Your masters is an ideal springboard into further study, taking a vocational qualification or making the transition into the work place. You might do a masters to set you up for:
- Further study. If you’ve enjoyed your time in academia, having a masters puts you in good stead for further study.
- Applying for a job. While many employers won’t specify a postgraduate qualification as a requirement for a role, the enhanced skills and experience from the extra stage of study are highly valued. Masters students are generally self-motivated, with excellent critical thinking and transferable skills. They also have more experience than their undergraduate counterparts, having had more time to get experience in the workplace through part-time and vacation work.
- Getting into a specific career. For some professional careers, postgraduate level qualifications are a prerequisite. For career changers, a subject-specific qualification makes the transfer much easier.
How can I improve my chances of getting a job?
A masters degree can increase your depth of knowledge well past that of an undergraduate, or extend your area of expertise – such as business psychology to your management degree. Your extra level of commitment helps you to stand out from the competition when it comes to applying for vacancies.
Pay particular attention in your application to demonstrate the extra value of your study and the transferable value of your skills to the business. For instance:
- Communication skills
- Planning and organisation
- Critical thinking and data analysis
- Teamwork and motivating others.
Arts postgraduates find that it’s often these types of skills that have been of most interest to employers – rather than their particular discipline. For applicants who’ve undertaken further study directly in the same field as the employer should also stress their breadth of knowledge and any extra work placements undertaken.
Did you take advantage of extracurricular opportunities during your masters? If you learned a foreign language, enhanced your IT skills or assisted in group research add those skills to your CV.
If you feel that you have any particular skills gaps or a lack of experience, try to address these with the help of your university careers service and arranging placements.
Where can I find a job?
Research-based jobs are advertised on specialist jobs boards like jobs.ac.uk.
In many industries, it is relatively unusual to find a position advertised that specify postgraduate qualifications as a requirement. Employers and recruiters generally advertise vacancies using:
- University careers services
- Recruitment agencies
- Jobs boards
- Newspapers and specialist trade magazines
- Social media tools like LinkedIn
- Careers fairs
- Company websites and trade events.
Your application is the opportunity to showcase the transferable skills that you’ve acquired during your masters.
Should I consider further vocational, professional or postgrad study?
Some graduates undertake further study after a masters – on a full time basis, or part time while working. Below are some reasons for this.
- To be eligible to enter a particular profession (eg teaching, law, architecture, healthcare – or any other profession where a vocational qualification is required)
- To become a specialist in a particular subject area, or to enhance your knowledge in an industry with fast-paced technological changes
- To increase your chances of promotion or career progression.
What are my options for further study?
At this point, you might want to consider whether you want to continue to study full time, or whether you want to combine work with part-time or online study.
The entry requirements for some courses (most MBA courses for example) will stipulate a certain amount of work experience to maximise the benefit you’ll get from the course.
Some of the most popular course options for your masters are:
- A conversion course to transfer into a different field – a graduate diploma in law if you don’t have a qualifying law degree and would like to qualify as a solicitor, for example.
- A professional or vocational qualification
- A PGCE or PGDE to become a teacher
- An engineering masters recognised by one of the professional bodies as the educational component of chartership
- An MBA
- A professional doctorate
- A PhD or new-route PhD.
Will I get funding for further study?
If you already have a masters, you may find yourself exempt for a government-backed loan for a qualification the same level. In these circumstances, charities, professional and specialist organisations, as well as funding from universities and private loans, are alternative options.
If you want to take a PhD (without a Research Council stipend), move into teaching or some subjects allied with medicine, your circumstances rather than qualifications will dictate the funding available.
Information on doctoral loans (up to £26,445) is available from the GOV.UK website.