Wondering whether to do a master's degree? Here’s what you need to consider first…

When deciding whether to do a master's degree, there are a lot of pros and cons that you need to consider in relation to your personal circumstances. Take a look at the following points to help you make an informed decision.

Reasons you should be doing a master’s degree:

  • May give your CV an edge in a very competitive and over-crowded market (depending on how relevant it is to the specific job role).

  • If you want to study a PhD then you will most likely need one.

  • Some jobs specifically require a master's degree (this is sometimes the case in scientific and technical career paths).

  • Can make you more ambitious and knowledgeable in your chosen field.

  • May be useful if you’ve changed your mind about what career you want to go into.

  • Will help you to develop both personally and professionally, especially if combined with work experience.

  • May increase salary (emphasis on ‘may’ - although figures suggest those with masters do earn more, these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt)

Reasons you should not do a master’s degree:

  • If you’re not passionate about the subject - doing a masters takes a lot of hard work and commitment so you can’t go into it half-heartedly.

  • Because your friends are doing it - this is NOT a reason to do a masters.

  • Because you want to be a student for one more year - unfortunately the days of being a student are over and studying a masters wouldn’t extend that period of your life because it’s really hard work. We all want to be a student for as long as possible, but this isn’t the way to do it. A masters has a lot less structure and people find it very difficult to allocate their time so it really doesn’t reflect the easy life of first-year.

  • If you want more time to think about your career - studying a masters that you don’t have an interest in may even push you into a career that you don’t want to go into and don’t enjoy.

  • If the cost outweighs the benefits - master’s degrees are extremely expensive and you can’t get another student loan as you’ve already had one - there is help available - but you need to thoroughly work out your finances beforehand, as a lot of the time you’re expected to cover most of the cost yourself.

  • If you’re considering a masters which won’t be beneficial to your chosen career - doing any-old masters won’t look good to an employer if it doesn’t relate in any way to the career you’re trying to go into.

If you’ve read the above list and know you fit into one in particular, then it may be time to really take into account what you should be doing next. Here are a few other important pointers you need to take into consideration when deciding whether to do a masters:

  • Check what qualification you need before you apply - usually, you need a 2:1 but for some, it’s a 2:2. They may still consider people with lower qualifications if they can demonstrate relevant work experience. If you’re an international student, you can use this tool to convert your qualifications into the UK equivalent.

  • Contact your careers advisor to get some advice and insight about your specific situation.

If you’re still unsure about whether a masters is right for you then why not take a year out? The great thing about master’s degrees is that they’re always there and there’s no need to rush into it. Having a year out working will also add to your CV and you’ll know in a years time if it’s something you really want to do. It will also give you a better feel for the job market and what you want to go into. Whatever you do, don’t panic - things always come together in the end!

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