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Five Things to Consider When Applying for a Postgraduate Degree

There are many things you should consider when planning to start studying for a postgraduate degree at university. As well as costing money, any further qualifications such as a master’s or PhD will be much harder than your undergraduate study. It’s important that the qualification will enhance your future career, and it’s also essential that that subject you’re studying is something you enjoy. So, what exactly should you ask yourself while deciding what you want to study and where? We’ve listed some vital questions below – you may find it useful to write out your own answers yourself so you can refer back to them should you ever begin to feel uncertain about your decisions. 

1. Can you afford it? 

You should try to consider all the costs involved with studying for a postgraduate degree. One of the main costs will be tuition fees for the course itself. This will be different depending on the subject you study, the university running your course and the qualification you’ll receive at the end. For example, master’s degrees can range from £3,000 to £30,000, with some MBAs reaching over £40,000, whereas shorter courses like PGDips and PGCerts can be cheaper. 

You should also keep in mind the costs of living, including things like rent, bills, travel, food and course materials. It’s wise to put together a budget to see if you can afford to study at a postgraduate level when receiving postgraduate loans or bursaries, or alongside a salary from a job.  

Go to: Read the Ultimate Guide to Postgraduate Funding 

2. Do you have the right grades? 

The right grades are essential if you wish to pursue further academic study. Many PGDip, PGCert and master's courses require prospective students to have a 2:1 honours degree, although some institutions will be flexible about this depending on any relevant work experience you might have. Similarly, if you decide to study on a PhD course in the future, you will likely be expected to have successfully completed a master’s degree. 

You should always closely examine the academic requirements for any course, and check that your experience meets these criteria.  

3. Do you have the right work experience? 

Some postgraduate courses will expect students to demonstrate a certain amount of work experience before submitting their application for consideration. This is particularly relevant for practical courses such as journalism and business, and for qualifications such as the PGDip in Law. 

Although a strong academic record is vital, such courses will occasionally favour work experience over grades. If you’ve just missed out on achieving the acquired grades, your experience might persuade course tutors to consider your application.  

4. Do you want to take a taught or research course? 

The structure of your postgraduate teaching will differ depending upon whether your course is taught or research based. Many courses will expect students to attend lectures as well as continue with their own work outside of lectures.   

Any future PhD courses will require significantly less contact hours and more independent study. Students wishing to take these courses will be expected to submit a dissertation of their own work, and should be self-motivated and capable of managing their own time. 

5. Do you want to study part-time or full-time? 

Many universities allow students the option to study full-time or part-time. The yearly fees the university charges for a part-time course can be different to full-time courses. Part-time courses allow students to work while studying, which means that self-funding students can afford to get a degree easier than if they had to give up their job to study full-time.

Next: Search for postgraduate courses


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