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Further study opportunities

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Just Graduated? What Next?
Book: Further study opportunities
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 7 Dec 2022, 17:26

1. Key considerations

An important note on further study: there are many positive reasons to continue your education, which we’ll discuss in this section, but be wary of pursuing a postgraduate qualification to extend your time as a student or assuming it will be more impressive than a poor undergraduate result (recruiters will still look at your first degree result). Recruiters are looking for graduate attributes alongside academic attainment.

Some students use further study as a fallback plan which is expensive and time consuming and is unlikely to change your career prospects, earning potential, etc. after completion if not thoroughly thought through. If you’re still thinking and need more time, consider taking a free online course, gaining some work experience, or taking some time out to concentrate on career planning before making your decision.

Further study is an excellent option if you’re pursuing a career as an academic (Masters and PhD are often a requirement), the postgraduate qualification is a prerequisite for your career (e.g. PGDE, Postgraduate Diploma in Education), or you’re looking for a career change. Ask yourself some questions to get started:

  • Is the course a requirement for your chosen career?
  • Will this course help you to make a career change unrelated to your undergraduate degree, e.g. a conversion course?
  • Will it improve your career prospects or earning potential?
  • Can you afford it?

It’s also worth mentioning here that you should be passionate about the subject you intend to study as postgraduate qualifications are often more intensive and time consuming than undergraduate. In addition, there is likely to be less teaching time and more personal study, so drive and commitment are important factors. 

Some students pursue postgraduate study to improve their salary. This is likely over time, but it is unlikely to impact your immediate earning potential. General graduate recruiters rarely differentiate between an undergraduate and postgraduate, so keep this in mind.

For more information visit:

1.1. Where to study

Where to study: it can be tempting to stay at the same institution if you are moving directly from undergraduate to postgraduate study, but ensure you explore all your options. Your university may not have the exact course you’re looking for and a change can give you access to a wider network of academic contacts and broaden your skills. There are benefits to staying in your own department, such as access to contacts, familiarity with the area, and access to funding if relevant.

Find a Masters PhD search

2. Types of courses

Types of courses: students are often surprised by the variety of courses available as a postgraduate so it’s important to do your research to ensure you’re choosing the correct option for you.

Certificate | Diploma (1 year): as a postgraduate you have access to vocational qualifications which train you in a specific area relevant to a career, for example, teaching, law, librarianship. In many cases, these are a prerequisite for that career path. However, there are exceptions. Once employed, the company/organisation you work for may fund you to complete a certificate or diploma to upskill in a relevant area.

Masters (1-2 years): there are two main types of Masters degree, taught and research-based, both requiring strong academic ability/a good honours degree. A taught Masters will include a taught curriculum followed by a research project, whereas a research Masters will focus primarily on a research project/s, followed by a dissertation. Like your undergraduate degree, you will choose your topics of study. 

Find a Masters

Doctorate (3-7 years): a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is an intensive self-directed research project which ends with the submission of a thesis. The research must make a unique contribution to the field of study. PhDs can have an industrial element which aims to make progress in a specialist area, more information is available using the below link. 

EPSRC Doctoral Training Centres

3. Funding

Funding: the most important thing to remember when considering funding options for postgraduate study is to keep your options open and apply for as much as you can. It’s worth keeping in mind that working/studying part-time may be more beneficial to you in the long. Funding options include:

  • Your employer – company sponsorship
  • The university you are applying to – this is not guaranteed but is an excellent place to start as there may be funding available for your course/department
  • Salaried research positions at universities
  • University scholarships and bursaries
  • Charities and Trusts
  • Research council funding
  • Government loan

Career Development loan

Each application process is different, so look carefully at the details. You can use the following as a starting point and there are many more opportunities available:

4. Postgraduate education overseas

Postgraduate education overseas: try Universities Worldwide for links to 7,000 universities. Note that universities overseas may use a different academic year.

Universities Worldwide