Is a Masters degree worth it?
I order to know whether you should do a Masters degree, you need to evaluate some practicalities. Here are a few questions you should consider before you commit:
Are you passionate enough about your subject?
A Masters won’t just ask you to tackle more complex material. It will also challenge you to take more responsibility for the way in which you do so. Even a taught program will involve lots of independent reading and preparation. This means that you’ll need to be self-motivated and enthusiastic about what you’re studying.
If you’re considering postgraduate study as a ‘stopgap’ or ‘plan b’, think carefully about how you’ll cope with these expectations of you.
Are you ready for another year (or more) of university study?
If you’ve just finished three years of undergraduate work, you might have some understandable ‘study fatigue’. Remember that you don’t have to begin your Masters immediately after your Bachelors.
A period in work could help you take a break from studying and reflect on your goals. You might even put yourself in a better position to afford a Masters. (You can always come back and study part-time, or via distance learning).
Can you afford it?
The cost of a Masters varies. Some subjects are more expensive than others. Some courses don’t charge fees. But, whatever and wherever you study, you’ll need to pay living costs. You may able to cover these through funding or work. But you should still bear in mind that postgraduate study represents at least another year of ‘missed’ full-time earnings.
A Masters can have value, but it’s never entirely ‘free’. Make sure you know how you’re going to cover your costs in the short term and that your qualification will be worth it in the long term.
Are you studying the right qualification?
Postgraduate study is very varied, with various types of Masters degree and other qualifications. Some develop academic expertise. Others have more obvious professional and vocational applications. Some include lots of research. Others are much more applied.
Review all the options available to you and pick a course that fits your interests and goals.
Are you putting off a bigger decision about your future?
This one calls for some honesty. Choosing to stay on for a Masters because you aren’t yet sure what you want to do for a career isn’t actually the worst thing you can do. (Provided you’ve thought about the questions above). You’ll pick up an additional qualification, develop transferable skills and potentially open the door to further academic training.
But you should be clear with yourself if this is part of your reason for studying a Masters. Don’t try to convince yourself a Masters in medieval history is vital to your professional aspirations if it isn’t. And don’t coast into training for an academic career when, deep down, you know you really hate writing essays.
Asking these questions should help you reflect on your decision making and think about what you hope to get out of a Masters degree.
But you shouldn’t take the self-interrogation too far. Masters degrees have lots to offer. We should know – we’ve been helping students find them for over a decade.
If you’re satisfied with your answers, you can be confident that a Masters degree could be a great choice for you too. Alternatively, you might have come across a few reasons not to do a Masters – in which case you may want to revaluate your plans.