With me starting my final year at university in a few months, I wanted (and needed) to start thinking about what I wanted to do after I graduate. I know I’ve covered What To Do After University? In another blog post, but now I wanted to focus on doing a Masters Degree specifically. Yet in case you’re unsure whether this is a good thing or not for you, I’ll explain the benefits, the drawbacks and my own thinking process towards a Masters Degree.
What Is A Masters Degree?
Just so everyone is on the same page, a Masters Degree is the type of degree you do after a bachelors but before a PhD, and yes I know that was extremely oversimplified. But that’s the simplest definition of what it is, and I’ll be defining a Masters Degree through the post as its benefits are rather unique compared to a Bachelor’s.
However, just like a Bachelor’s, you can do a Masters of the Arts or Sciences. The Masters of Sciences is what I aim to do due to being in psychology and both sharing a focus on scientific research, rigour, and methods .
What Are The Benefits of Doing a Masters?
This is definitely one of the greatest benefits in my opinion about doing a Masters. Since they allow you to specialise in your degree subject and become more of an expert in that little (or large) area. This specialised knowledge can be very useful in allowing you to get access to even higher levels of education or progress further in your career. For example, at the moment, I study psychology as a Bachelors. Therefore, in a way, I know a lot of topics within psychology at a good amount of depth, so I have a good breathe and depth of knowledge. However, a masters degree would allow me to deep dive into clinical psychology (just think mental health) and really focus on that fascinating area. Allowing me to become a lot more knowledgeable about a very wide range of topics within that area.
Personally, I really like the sound of that because I am passionate about that subfield and I do want to learn more. Therefore, if there’s an area of your degree subject that you want to explore and increase your expertise in, then a Master’s degree might be a great idea for you.
Access To Higher Paying Jobs:
Now this is a major reason why I want to do a Masters, because one of the reasons why I chose to do a psychology degree (besides from how interesting it was), was because it is very hard to get anywhere in the clinical psychology job market without a Masters degree at the least.
Therefore, there are plenty of job markets, especially in the sciences, that require you to have an advanced degree before they will even consider your job application. As a result, if you want to work in one of these fields then this is a very good reason to consider doing a Masters.
As well as that, even if you do want to work in a sector that doesn’t require you to have a degree, it could still be a good idea because it might give you an extra leg up in the job application process. Of course though, that depends on the employers and whatever job you go for.
Drawbacks To Doing A Masters:
As much as I love the idea of doing a Masters, in a bid to keep this post balanced, here are the potential downsides of doing a Masters degree.
Another Year Out of Work:
Personally I didn’t know this was a reason against it, because I believed students would actually see that as a benefit. However, it turns out that lots of people see this very much as a negative, so we need to explore this drawback. After talking to different people over the past few months, I realise that this drawback comes down to a few different things:
(1) People are concerned that after spending the past three or four (or however long your degree is) years at university, they might be better off starting work, increasing their employability and getting out into the real world. This is very understandable and has some merit to it. However, there is also plenty of time for work, but returning to university for a postgraduate course may not be an opportunity that presents itself for a long while. As such, doing a masters degree and working part-time may be a happy compromise if both options appeal to you.
(2) People are concerned about the cost, maintenance, and resultant debt. This is a very real concern and one that needs to be thought through thoroughly before beginning any postgraduate course. Tuition fees aside, living for a year (especially in the current economic state) can be very expensive with no income. Thus, financials is something that needs to be thought through carefully.
(3) Finally, continuing education and the thought of more academia is just not for everyone. This, of course, is completely fine and valid. While some people may feel pressured to doing postgraduate studies, for various reasons, it is always best to take time out if you are not completely sure. It is a big time, effort, and financial commitment so it is imperative that you know this is something you want to do.
I’m actually really glad I did this blog post because there’s a very strong myth going around universities that you only get 4 years of government funding in the UK. However, postgraduate loans are a different story. While I stress the importance of doing your own research for your own financial situations, a postgraduate loan is available for qualifying students.
Anyway, I do know that not all students have those luxuries, especially amongst our international audience. Therefore, if you are concerned about the cost of a Masters or another type of postgraduate study. Then I would unofficially recommend you look at possible scholarships, bursaries and loans that might be able to help you out.
I know that money and the cost of university is never an easy topic, but it is still a factor we must all consider.
I’m really looking forward to the idea of doing a Masters degree, because I do want to become specialised in clinical psychology and deepen my knowledge on the subject. Additionally, I do want to be able to possibly go after those higher-paying jobs.
However, I know not everyone wants that, especially when we consider it’s another year out of work and the cost of the degree itself, and that’s fine. You don’t need to have a postgraduate degree.
Just think about your options, what’s right for you and your situation, and you should be fine.
At the end of the day, just do what makes you happy.