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Why Postgraduate Study?

In today’s workforce, 11% or over two million people have a postgraduate degree, compared with just 4% or 600,000 sixteen years ago. This nearly tripling in postgraduate study has led to a better-educated workforce, added value to the economy, and reflects a growing demand for expertise in certain sectors, such as science, technology, engineering and maths. The Sutton Trust noted this surge in postgraduate qualifications has made it more difficult for those with a primary degree to stand out. Their report reveals that someone with a Master’s degree can on average expect to earn £5,000 more a year, or £200,000 more over a 40 year working life. In terms of long-term financial rewards, a postgraduate degree can be seen as an investment into your future, but what other benefits does it offer students?  

15 June 2015

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Over a series of blog posts we will examine the increased prominence of postgraduate education. Today’s post will provide an overview of the value of a postgraduate degree, and the particular benefits of studying at Queen Mary. Later, we will examine funding options, resources available for postgraduate students from Careers & Enterprise, and provide profiles on specific postgraduate programmes.

The Value of a Postgraduate Degree

1) Enhance your skills and knowledge, making you extremely attractive to employers
Whilst many employers are impressed with postgraduate qualifications, it is important you first research the industry you are interested in working within to determine whether a postgraduate degree will improve your employability prospects. Some employers prefer practical work experience to further study, so it is important that you do not approach a postgraduate degree as a necessary precursor for employment. However, in an increasingly competitive job market, many employers do look favourably upon applicants with postgraduate education as it shows high intellect and a strong work ethic.

2) Pursue a passion for a specific subject
Many students study a postgraduate degree because they are interested in learning more about a particular subject. For some, this can be the subject they studied at their undergraduate degree; for others, it can be an entirely new subject. Many postgraduate degrees require an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite for entry so make sure you do your research!

3) Obtain a specialised qualification for a particular profession
Many fields require postgraduate qualifications, particularly in the maths, science, technology and engineering sectors. These qualifications could be a Masters degree, diploma and certificate courses, teaching training, conversion courses or law qualifications.  For example, if you are interested in a career in law but have not studied law at an undergraduate level, you must first obtain a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), depending on whether you wish to become a solicitor or barrister. For students who have studied law as their undergrad, the LPC or BPTC course is still required as a professional qualification.

4) Access to a new city and student experience
The student experience is often analogous to the academics of a University. Beginning a new degree programme can be both exciting, challenging and could mean a change of location, opportunities to meet new people and further develop your network. As postgraduate classes are generally much smaller in size, this can create greater opportunities to meet people during your course and develop a tight-knit community. If you choose to study at the same University as your undergrad, this can still offer an entirely different student experience, whilst allowing you to maintain familiarity with the University and its surroundings.

5) Buy some time before entering the job market
Some students view postgraduate education as a way to ‘buy’ some time before entering the workforce. They may be unsure of which career path to pursue and view a postgraduate degree as extra time to think about their options. However, it is important to remember the financial costs that come with postgraduate study, and that sometimes it may be better to spend the time gaining work experience in a field, rather than studying something you are not particularly interested in. If funding and resources are not a primary concern, postgraduate study can allow you to spend more time thinking of your options whilst obtaining another useful qualification. You may also develop a further interest in your area of study and come out with a different career perspective!

Benefits of Studying a Postgraduate Programme at Queen Mary

Russell Group University: Committed to the very best research, teaching and learning experience, leading to excellent graduate employability.

Research Excellence: Queen Mary was ranked 9th in the UK amongst multi-faculty institutions in the 2014 Research Excellent Framework, 8th in the UK for world-leading research, and 5th in the UK for ‘world leading or internationally excellent’ research outputs.

Innovative Research: Initiator of innovative interdisciplinary collaborations and winner of the 2012 THE Award for Research Project of the Year.

Financial Rewards: Graduates from our postgraduate courses earn an average salary of £32,942.

Exceptional Facilities: Over £250m invested in new facilities over the last five years and a state-of-the-art Graduate Centre opening in 2016 at the Mile End campus.

Part of the University of London: Meaning you have access to world-class facilities and resources throughout London.

International Outlook: Recently described by THE as “one of the world’s 20 most international universities;” our postgraduate programmes contain students from over 150 countries.

  • Carolyn Minaudo is a final year student at Queen Mary, studying an accelerated two-year Law degree. Originally from Toronto, she also has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Political Science from Queen’s University in Canada. Carolyn came to London for the first time to begin studying at QMUL and hopes through sharing her student experience you’ll be inspired to join her!



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