Whilst some of you may have binned the revision notes and booked the next flight to some far flung destination, some of you remain at home researching your options for some further study.

With graduates earning less than their debts and a challenging job market, taking on a postgraduate course can seem a promising option, leading to higher earnings in the long run.

Postgraduate options

  • Masters degrees (e.g. MA/MSc): Aimed at those students looking to grow further understanding of an academic subject.
  • Postgraduate diplomas (PgDip): These are vocational courses which equip you with the skills to work in a specific area. You can move onto converting these to a Masters qualification.
  • Doctorates (PhDs): An advanced degree level in which a thesis or dissertation must be submitted.
  • PGCE: A postgraduate certificate in education is a conversion qualification for those wanting to become teachers but study something else at undergraduate level.
  • PDL and LPC: The PDL is a Postgraduate Diploma in Law which is the conversion course for those with a different undergraduate. The LPC is the Legal Practice Course which gives you the practical tools for becoming a lawyer or solicitor which is studied after the PDL or your law undergraduate degree.
  • MBA: a Masters in Business Administration is often studied by those with existing work experience.

Why should you carry on studying?

Dragon’s Den’s James Caan, serial entrepreneur and CEO of the private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw, studied towards an MBA at Harvard and comprehends the importance of postgraduate study. He advises graduates:

‘Postgraduate study is a great way of getting a greater understanding of theories which you will be putting into practice within the business world. An MBA, for example, is a credible and valuable qualification to have behind you. I found my time at Harvard allowed me to challenge theories. The grounding this extra study gives you is invaluable for future endeavours. I am a great believer that if you do something, you should do it well.’

Postgraduate study has become more popular than ever with the option to study either part or full-time. The vast choice of courses available can allow graduates to work full-time whilst pursuing an extra qualification. Weigh up your options. Do you have the time and commitment to spend a year or more of your life studying?

Financially it can be a drain so, think carefully about how you plan to cover the cost of another qualification.

“Pursuing a Masters degree can often be the deciding factor that tips the scales in the favour of one candidate over another during the interview process,” says Susan Roth, Director of MSc Programmes at Cass Business School.

“MSc courses equip students with specialist financial knowledge that they have not received as an undergraduate. The reason for this is because at the Masters level, students are taught by more practitioners than theorists, who provide students with an understanding, not only of complex financial topics, but with an insight into the working world in general.”

Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

Once in the business world, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) can be a powerful qualification to elevate your knowledge. The internationally recognised postgraduate qualification is one studied by those with typically three or more years’ managerial experience. In some areas, such as investment banking and consultancy, the MBA is often a ‘must-have’.

“The MBA is the world’s most popular business qualification, and it is valued by employers as a guarantee of all-round business skills and knowledge at a strategic level,’ explains Natalie Clark, Director of Marketing at Association of MBA (AMBA). ‘The benefits of studying an accredited MBA are many, the financial return in terms of salary increases and the impact on career progression are perhaps the most obvious. Evidence from the Association of MBAs’ 2008 Careers Survey shows that remuneration for MBAs increases considerably after graduation, and continues to rise throughout their careers.”

‘Our research shows that on average, MBA graduates worldwide experience salary increases of 46% immediately after the MBA, 129% after three to five years, and 208% within ten years of graduation.’

Where to look for courses

Many people decide to stay on at their university to study a postgraduate course. This often helps the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate easier as courses are often one year long and you are already familiar with the facilities and location.

However, you may want to consider applying to a different university if you wish to specialise in a different area or on a specific topic. Universities will specialise in certain areas at this level and you should apply to the most appropriate.

For more information on what courses are available, take a look at the courses advertise on our site, visit a website with a postgraduate course database or the website of the university you are interested in.

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