by Ibtisam Ahmed, Career Camel: http://www.careercamel.com/blog/a-postgraduate-to-be-or-not-to-be/
Ibtisam is an MA Public Policy student from Bangladesh. Sees a lot wrong with the
world and tries to contribute to their solutions. Or at least rants
about them. Writes a lot, but not very well.
many of my friends plunging straight into the job market after
completing their undergraduate degrees, I find myself among that
endangered breed of students - the postgraduate.
Currently slogging my way through a Masters dissertation, I thought I
should jot down why a postgraduate degree has quite a few oft-ignored
1. The stepping stone
The first reason is utilising the postgraduate as a stepping stone. I
am using my MA to get into a PhD programme. If academia is what you are
seriously considering, remember that most PhD courses will not accept
anyone who does not have a Masters degree, or significant experience in
the field already. The latter can take years to chalk up; the former
usually takes just one.
Despite being just one year compared to three or four for
undergraduate degrees, Masters give you an in-depth understanding of
specific areas of study. A PhD, needless to say, gives you an even
greater level of appreciation for the subject. Regardless of whether
this is for professional purposes or not, if you want to really immerse
yourself in a subject, a postgraduate degree is the way to go.
NGOs and the civil service tend to favour postgraduates for jobs, and
undergraduates for internships or volunteer positions. This is not a
hard-and-fast rule of course; your CV and application are what really
matters. But having an additional degree is a good way to spruce up your
experience within a short period of time.
4. The developing world
This might be an oversimplification but if you are seriously thinking
of finding a job in a part of the developing world, a postgrad degree
will work wonders. I don’t mean multi-nationals, which usually have a
more pragmatic approach to employment, but any corporation or
organisation that is based purely in the so-called “third world” still
pay a lot of attention to nominal qualifications. Masters and PhDs are
automatically considered more appropriate for the job.
That being said, there are some very good reasons not to do a
postgraduate, including ones that universities do not like to publicise:
If you are not sure what to do for the future, it is better to take a
gap year and get some work experience than it is to do a postgraduate
degree. For all its benefits, it is still expensive and the focus of the
programme gives you very little space to explore other possibilities.
2. The second chance
Similarly, if you did not like a subject in your undergraduate, it is
unlikely a postgraduate in the same field will win you over. Unless you
are really jumping up the university ladder in terms of quality, using a
postgraduate degree as a way to give your field of study a second
chance is not a good idea.
While a postgraduate degree is a great way to improve your CV, it is
not a walk in the park. If you are not willing to put in the hard work
and commitment for it, it is better to bolster your credentials
Hopefully, I haven’t scared any of you away. For all my whinging, I
find my course extremely rewarding and I am looking forward to getting
on to a PhD programme. Just remember that postgraduate programmes comes
with both pros and cons, and you should know what you are getting into.
What do you think about postgraduate degrees? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: DaveBleasdale / Flickr