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COMMENT: Is studying a master’s degree really worth it?

Posted on Wednesday, 23 October by

Master's Degree

For many third year students across the UK, the prospect of graduation is slowly looming which can only mean one thing: your carefree student life is nearly over and the time to think about your career has arrived.

Graduates with a CV that boasts excellent academic records and a wealth of work experience will no doubt thrive in the graduate job application process. However, those who perhaps lack experience and don’t have a firm idea of the career they are looking for will struggle in the increasingly competitive job market. With 957,000 students and graduates currently unemployed in the UK, many are turning to studying a master’s degree.

Over the past few years, postgraduate degrees have become a significantly popular choice of career move for students across the UK, for a whole host of reasons: one more year of living an independent lifestyle because moving back with mum and dad again just doesn’t sound doable, it’s your last chance to remain a student as the thought of being an adult and having to find a job is too scary for you to handle, and the chance to carry on studying something you love and become an expert in your field will certify you a glittering career.

Master's tweet

But is the latter true? Does a master’s degree actually come with a job guarantee? And is it actually worthwhile? At the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB), we asked students and our own recruiters whether they thought a master’s is really worth it.

Studying for a master’s will show employers you have a plausible work ethic, as that one year of studying carries a significantly intense amount of work that only some can handle. It requires extreme perseverance and the ability to work under pressure, skills that would be of high value to any work environment. And being an expert in your field is of course a great asset and achievement to claim. A master’s ten years ago was not as common as it is now, and although students may think that a master’s is that golden ticket to opening up more job opportunities, is this true in all circumstances?

Undergraduate at Portsmouth University Nnena told us that the value of a master’s is “100% industry specific. Some industries require academic excellence, whereas some would prefer first-hand experience.” Working in the Media is the perfect example of an industry that places great value on work experience, rather than a master’s. It is a creative and practical based environment, and is a work setting that is better understood when experiencing it as opposed to studying it.

Co-founder of GRB and leading graduate recruiter Dan Hawes states:

Candidates who have taken on internships are valuable to employers, as these candidates can demonstrate that they know how to work in a professional work environment. Internships give you real hands on experience that studying cannot offer you. It’s one thing studying how to organise an event, but it’s another actually going out and performing it.”

The overall consensus gathered from our survey was that studying for a master’s should only be considered in certain circumstances. According to one of our senior consultants, “If you’re considering becoming a doctor and you think it will help you with your long term career plan, then a master’s is crucial. But if you want to work in industries such as recruitment, sales or media, work experience will outweigh a master’s.”

Graduate Tweet 2

Students must look at the benefits and costs of doing a master’s. It is important to remember that there is no available government funding for a master’s, so it is essential to do research beforehand on whether it is absolutely worth your time and money, and necessary for the career you want. You won’t want to have spent an extortionate amount of money on a degree that won’t actually come with any sort of career guarantee.

If you know your future dream job requires a master’s, then of course it is definitely worth considering. But if you’re one of those students who is considering it for the sake of it and think it will magically grant you a job, you will need to do some serious evaluation. Make sure you know what you want from your career and do your research into whether a master’s will actually benefit your job prospects.

Yasmin Codron is an Online Researcher and Marketing Assistant for the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

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Yasmin Codron

Yasmin Codron

Columnist at SQ Magazine
20-year-old student in English Language at the University of Sussex. Online Researcher and Marketing Assistant at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

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