How Do I Choose The Right Master’s Course For Me?
Completing a postgraduate or Master’s degree is a great academic achievement and a brilliant way to enhance your credentials in the eyes of employers. But with nearly 20,000 courses to choose from in the UK, deciding which one is right for you may not be an easy task.
If you’re looking to try and narrow down your options, then hopefully we can be of help. There are several important factors to bear in mind when choosing which course to go for and it’s important to take your time thinking about each of these to avoid making the wrong decision.
Research versus taught master’s
The first thing to decide is whether to do a taught master’s or a research master’s. Generally, the latter refers to PhDs, which are the most well-known and most popular forms of research master’s. The annual tuition fees are normally cheaper but courses can take three to four years to complete and involve writing a thesis of between 60,000 and 100,000 words. You might want to study for a PhD if you are interested in academic research or planning a career where research skills are valuable, such as psychology, medical science, sports science or university research.
When it comes to a taught master’s, there are four main types, Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Engineering (Meng), all of which take one to two years to complete.
An MA or MSc is most appropriate if you want to gain more specialist knowledge in a certain subject area before seeking employment. A Meng is for people wishing to become chartered engineers, although there are other avenues to achieve this. An MBA is typically undertaken by people who already have some professional experience and are looking to further their careers.
There are other forms of master’s available and for those who are training for a specific profession, accredited taught programmes are the most suitable option. For example, a Legal Practice Course (LPC), Master of Social Work (MSW) or shorter taught courses such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDE).
University reputation and location
Once you know the type of master’s you would like to study, the natural next step is to look at which universities offer courses in that area and which ones have the best reputation. There are plenty of league tables out there to give you an idea of which universities rank best overall, but this doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture. The best universities for your course and the best universities in the UK won’t always marry up. To make the right choice for your career, it’s important to do your own research. When comparing universities, it’s important to consider what the reputation of the course is like. How do students rate it? What is the calibre of the lecturers like?
As well as the reputation of the university and the course, it’s also worth weighing up where the best location would be for you. Would you prefer to be in a bigger city or somewhere more rural? How would this affect your living costs? If you’re relying on part-time work to help fund your course, then you may want to stay close to where you have existing work. Or it may be important for you to return to the university where you completed your undergraduate degree so that you can make the most of the relationships you have with staff or friends living locally.
Course content and connections
Another important factor that you should bear in mind is the course content and the connections to industry. First and foremost, you want to further your education so make sure the course is taking you beyond what you learnt at an undergraduate level. Check out the course literature, what modules you study and what the employment rate is like for that course.
Does it include work placements or other opportunities to build relationships with industry professionals? All of these could be vitally important for helping to land your dream job after graduating, so it’s worth taking the time now to make the right decision.
For Lendwise borrower Freencky P. Portas who took out a loan to fund his Master’s in Publishing at University College London, there were several factors that affected his decision on where to study. Read more about his postgraduate experience.