What are your Postgraduate Study Options?
Hello everyone! For many finalists approaching graduation, additional postgraduate study is appealing, but what are your options? There is much more on offer than many students know about so here’s my breakdown of what different routes you can apply for.
The most popular and common choice among graduates in the Masters Degree. The qualification is at level 7 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) – above Bachelors but below Doctoral – and is awarded to students who show a high level of expertise in their field. Study is intense and typically involves writing a thesis. Full-time Masters degrees usually involve one or two years of study, while part-time programmes last between two and four years. Compared to undergraduate degrees, Masters degrees are usually focused on one particular area of a wider subject, giving students a greater amount of specialist knowledge, more flexible in terms of modules and study options, and more intense and advanced.
A PhD, or Doctorate of Philosophy, is the highest level of degree that a student can achieve. PhD students independently conduct original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis typically 80,000-100,000 words in length. While some Doctorates include taught components, PhD students are almost always assessed on the quality and originality of the argument presented in their independent research project. Full-time PhDs typically last three or four years, while part-time PhDs last six or seven. However, the thesis deadline can be extended by up to four years at the institution’s discretion. Indeed, many students who enrol on three-year PhDs only finish their thesis in year four. The majority of institutions require PhD candidates to possess a Masters degree, plus a Bachelors degree graded at 2:1 or above. However, some universities demand only the latter, while self-funded PhD students or those with significant professional experience may be accepted with lower grades.
Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates:
Want to gain specialist knowledge and boost your career prospects without taking a Masters degree? Consider studying for a postgraduate diploma or certificate. Postgraduate diplomas and certificates are taught postgraduate courses at level 7 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) – the same level as Masters degrees. However, they are shorter and you won’t have to proceed to the dissertation stage. This makes them a good option if you are interested in pursuing postgraduate study, but don’t want to commit to a full Masters course. Available in a wide range of subjects, postgraduate diplomas and certificates can be studied full or part time. Some are academic, with similar content to Masters degrees, while others are vocational and include work placements. They usually follow on from undergraduate study in a similar subject, and are also popular with professionals looking to improve their CV or change careers.
Not convinced that your current degree and career path are right for you? Then consider a conversion course. It’s never too late to change career direction. A conversion course is an intensive postgraduate programme that allows you to pursue a career that your undergraduate degree or professional career hasn’t prepared you for. Courses are usually vocational, lasting between a few months and several years depending on the qualification and whether you choose fast-track, full-time or part-time study. Some of the most popular conversion courses include the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), the Graduate Diploma in Psychology (GDP), IT conversion courses, Medicine conversion courses, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for teacher training, and Property conversion courses for the property and construction sector.
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a prestigious postgraduate qualification that is highly valued by leading employers and can boost your salary, increase your professional reputation and expand your networking opportunities. Studying for an MBA is often a route to promotion or a career change as you’ll gain an overview of key business practices and develop skills in areas such as management, marketing and accounting. In the UK a full-time course typically takes one to two years to complete. If you’re a graduate with some business experience and ambitions for a high-flying career, studying for an MBA could be just what you need to make the next step. However, it’s academically challenging and a major financial commitment, so you need to be certain that it’s the right choice for you.
Professional or vocational qualifications can help you to develop the skills you need to work in a specific industry or job, and having one is an essential requirement for some roles. Professional qualifications focus on improving your ability to succeed in a particular occupation, which is ideal if you have a clear career objective and want to gain valuable on-the-job experience through vocational training. Awarded by professional bodies within the relevant industry or sector, they often follow on from a degree or equivalent qualification, although this level of previous academic study isn’t always required.
Thanks for reading! Kristie