In the United Kingdom, the number of students enrolling in postgraduate programs has more than doubled in the past couple of decades, reaching about 600,000 on an annual basis. And it’s not simply the amount of students who have joined the ranks of the growing population. There are now more universities, more subject options (anyone interested in an MSc in 5G Advanced Communications?), more degree options, and more ways to accomplish what needs to be done than ever before.
If you have graduated from a university, there is a good likelihood that your primary experience with postgraduate education has been through the academic route, which consists of the Master’s degree (often an MA or MSc) followed by the Doctor of Philosophy (the PhD or DPhil). The question “what is a postgraduate course?” can now be answered with a significantly broader list of possible responses due to the increased number of accessible options. There are graduate and postgraduate certificates and diplomas available for study in professional or vocational fields, and there are a variety of ways to further one’s education to the postgraduate level. There are a growing variety of possibilities for individuals who do not have a first degree or who do not come from what is considered to be a “conventional” academic background. These options include the ability to study on a part-time basis or even totally online.
All of this is very encouraging news. Participating in postgraduate study provides benefits beyond intellectual growth alone. It has the potential to launch an academic career, put you on the path to a prestigious profession such as accounting or law, and propel you forward in your professional life. Having a postgraduate degree on your resume will help you stand out from other applicants, and it may even help you earn a higher income, even if the job you want does not need one specifically.
When deciding a postgraduate program to enroll in, the following are the six most important considerations our team has prepared that you should give some thought to:
1. Time commitment: full-time vs. part-time
When selecting a postgraduate program, one of the first choices you’ll need to make is whether you want to pursue your degree on a part-time or full-time basis.
Full-time postgraduate course
A course that requires full-time commitment is exactly what it sounds like. Although it is feasible to hold a part-time job, the primary responsibility that will be expected of you will be to focus on your studies.
It is true that you will have more freedom than you did when you were an undergraduate student; in fact, there may be days or even weeks when you just have a few hours’ worth of tuition to attend. However, even while the university will not expect you to be present in a lecture hall from 9 to 5, the majority of full-time classes adhere to the same “office hours” as any other type of job. You should expect the majority of your classes to take place during the daytime, making it more challenging for you to schedule meetings or tutorials in the evenings or on the weekends.
The positives of Full-time postgraduate course
You can earn your qualification in a shorter amount of time, such as twelve months for a master’s degree.
It enables you to become fully immersed in both your academics and the more general life of the university.
Facilitates the management of time in a somewhat easy way.
The downsides of Full-time postgraduate course
Particularly if you are a mature student, trying to balance your studies with other obligations, such as those to your family, can be challenging.
You are only able to commit a few hours per week to employment that pays you money.
Part-time postgraduate course
Before applying for a part-time course, it is a good idea to familiarize oneself with the various formats that the course may take and the schedule that will be followed. Some of them are organized in a way that is very accommodating for people who already have a lot going on in their lives; for example, they offer classes in the evenings or on the weekends. However, it is essential to keep in mind that timetabled classes represent only a portion of your overall commitment to the program. For instance, if you are taking a master’s degree program that is offered on a part-time basis and is spaced out over two years, you are expected to devote 20 hours per week to studying. Do not let yourself be fooled into thinking that you can keep working a 9-to-5 job while also pursuing your education.
It frees up more time for you to devote to your other responsibilities, such as your family or your job.
This could make it easier to obtain financing because the costs are spread out over time and you can keep working throughout this time.
Enables you to proceed with the development of your profession. It would take an incredible stroke of good luck for your employer to consent to your taking time off work to complete a full-time course that leads to a job offer upon completion of the program. It is more likely that you will be granted permission to attend the school on a part-time basis during the term of the programme.
To complete the postgraduate course and earn your qualification will take you at least twice as long, if not even more time.
You need outstanding time management abilities, but more than that, you need the ability to negotiate any conflicts that may arise.
2. Fees and funding
It’s possible that the price of a postgraduate degree will scare you. The cost of a taught course for students who choose to study at home is around $5,000 each academic year. The illustrious Master of Business Administration degree might cost as much as 20,000 pounds. Despite this, you shouldn’t let it deter you from attending a university in the UK because tuition and living costs are substantially lower than, for example, in the United States.
A part-time study not only allows you to continue working in order to afford it, but it also allows you to spread the cost of the education over more than one year.
There are a multitude of different funding options available.
There is also the perspective of the long term to consider. A postgraduate program that prepares students for work in a field such as teaching or law will, in the long run, be financially rewarding. Once you learn that MBA graduates typically enjoy a pay increase of up to 45 percent after graduation, the expense of earning an MBA may seem like a better investment than you originally thought.
When viewed in the near term, there are many different payment options available, including the following:
Student loans for postgraduate study are made available by the government for students enrolling in postgraduate programs at either the master’s or doctoral level. They function in exactly the same manner as your undergraduate student loan does. You won’t have to start making payments until you’ve earned a particular amount of money.
The government also provides funding for postgraduate students who wish to pursue careers in social work or teaching by way of bursaries. Some medical programs qualify for funding from the National Health Service (NHS).
Studentships and scholarships: If you have an especially impressive academic history, you may consider making an application for a scholarship. These will pay for your tuition, and many of them will also provide you with a stipend to help with your living expenses. Some of these are made available by UK Research and Innovation, while others are made available by specific educational institutions. You are able to conduct a search for all of the available postgraduate studentships on websites such as this one.
Employer sponsorship refers to the practice in which an employer agrees to cover a portion of an employee’s educational costs if the employee’s current qualification is directly related to the work for which the employee is employed.
3. Which subject is right for you?
This is a crucial consideration to make if you are interested in enrolling in a postgraduate program that focuses on anything other than your own personal development. Even at the master’s level, the content of a postgraduate course is frequently far more specialized and laser-focused than that of an undergraduate program. It’s possible that this will be the first significant choice you make regarding where to focus your efforts.
Structure of the course The majority of educational institutions provide online a comprehensive description of their course structure, which includes information on the purpose of each individual unit as well as the grading criteria for those units. If you have a strong interest in a topic that does not neatly fall within the confines of a specific field of study, you might be able to study it as part of a variety of other classes. In a similar vein, you might like taking a class that offers a wider variety of modules to choose from.
Prospects for the future include professional courses that are either offered by the university or accredited by the institution, but are instructed by professionals working in the industry. This is especially true for classes in the fields of business, engineering, and the natural sciences. It is possible that the connections to industry as well as the opportunities for employability will make selecting a postgraduate program simpler. If you are interested in conducting more research after completing one of the more standard academic courses, you should give some thought to which master’s program would most obviously lead into doctoral studies.
4. Qualifications and requirements for postgraduate course
You should read the admissions requirements for each individual course that you are interested in carefully before submitting an application. The normative requirement is, of course, a solid degree in a field that is pertinent to the job. There are many courses that will mention a particular topic or “associated discipline,” which might be confusing. If you are unclear, it is typically best to get in touch with the relevant university department immediately.
There are other different ways to get there. There are a variety of alternative routes that can be taken to earn a master’s degree. These routes take into consideration your previous experiences and successes, notably in the realm of employment. The following are all possible explanations for this:
Evidence of prior learning: It is possible that you will be required to present a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates that you have achieved at a degree level in the field that you have selected.
Pre-Program: Master’s the objective of a pre-program master’s is to familiarize students with the academic expectations that come with postgraduate study. There is often a base criteria that must be met, such as a minimum number of years that must have been spent completing formal schooling. While others are open to students from the UK, others are developed specifically for students from foreign countries and may include intense English language instruction.
Graduate certificates and diplomas are valuable accomplishments in their own right, but they also earn you credits that can be transferred into your master’s degree program. Many people consider them to be a “conversion course” due to the fact that they can be helpful for those who already have a degree in an unrelated subject.
5. Online postgraduate course vs. traditional taught
The COVID-19 situation has led to an increase in a variety of people not only working but also studying from the comfort of their own homes. This choice is currently provided by an increasing number of educational institutions than ever before.
The benefits of doing schoolwork online
It may result in cost savings for you. It is not necessary to make the trip to the university by car or to find lodging in an expensive student community.
You are able to schedule your work around your other responsibilities, whether they be at home or at the office.
There are no restrictions based on location. You are free to submit an application to any university you like, provided that you have access to the internet. Because of this, you now have access to a far wider variety of classes.
It is not suitable for all individuals. In the year 2020, some people had little problem succeeding at working or studying from home, while others found it extremely challenging. The same holds true for degrees earned online.
It is possible to feel isolated. Even while it can appear that only undergraduates have access to student clubs and socials, postgraduate students have many of options to participate in extracurricular activities as well. This provides possibilities for networking, as well as scholarly discussion groups and contacts to other industries. It’s possible that students who solely take classes online won’t find these useful.
You may need to go in anyway. There is not an online version of all of the class content. It’s possible that you’ll need to keep making the trip to the university library no matter what degree you have.
6. Can I do two postgraduate degrees at once?
The majority of educational institutions, as a general rule, advise vehemently against doing this. Taking two full-time classes at the same time is an incredibly time-consuming endeavor, and you should not expect anyone to show you any compassion if there are any scheduling conflicts.
However, you will have a better chance of succeeding if you combine two of your part-time classes. If you are interested in combining a more traditional academic course with a professional certificate, this is something that might be of interest to you as a potential reason for wanting to do this. On the other hand, it is difficult to know in advance whether the burden will be manageable, and you do not want your performance to suffer – or, even worse, you do not want to have to drop out. A prudent plan would be to enroll in no more than one class that requires part-time attendance during the first academic year. If all goes according to plan, you will then be able to begin Year 1 of your second course while simultaneously finishing Year 2 of the first.
The procedure for applying to postgraduate programs and courses
After you’ve given the aforementioned considerations some thought and are getting near to settling on a choice, it’s important to remember to do research on the application procedure for your selected postgraduate degree well in advance. You definitely don’t want to find out the night before you plan to turn in your application that you need to write a supporting essay that is 1,500 words long. Make a list in the event that different universities have different deadlines.
Think about the following:
Keep your curriculum vitae up to date (if required): there are some programs that still call for the more traditional CV. While the basic content is likely to remain the same, it may need re-focusing depending on your chosen course.
Choose a strong essay to accompany your application (if one is required): Many courses ask for a sample of your academic writing. If you are a current or recent undergraduate, it should be easy to find one that shows you at your best. However, you should certainly consider reviewing it.
Brush up the personal statement: Remember, if you’re applying separately to each university, you should write a statement tailored to each one.
Regarding references, give careful consideration to: Approach your referees as soon as possible.
Put in an appearance! When you submitted your application for admission to your undergraduate program, the Admissions Office was most likely the only department with which you communicated outside of the application process. As a postgraduate, however, you will have a totally different relationship to your tutors and supervisors compared to your undergraduate experience – and they are delighted to hear from prospective postgraduate applicants.
The application procedure for certain courses is very much like that of UCAS; in other words, you do not apply to a specific university directly. Applications for teacher training can be submitted through UCAS or the UK government’s website, whereas the Graduate Diploma in Law is administered by LawCab (the Central Application Board)
There are a lot of questions that need to be thought about, but keep in mind that there are a lot of people that can assist you. If you are a graduate or a current student at the institution, they will be more than delighted to offer you advise (and no, they won’t try to bully you into applying exclusively for one of their own courses). Additionally, postgraduate tutors at the institution or university of your choice will be able to provide you with additional information.
Keep in mind, too, that the staff at Oxbridge Essays is available to assist you at every stage of the process. Oxbridge Editing is able to assist you in completing that all-important essay or dissertation once you’ve arrived at your desired institution, while the experienced academics at Oxbridge Personal Statements will work with you to develop a statement that highlights your most impressive qualities.