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Reasons for postgraduate study

Committing to a postgraduate course will require a significant investment of your time, energy and money, so you need to do your research to check that this is the right step for you.

There are many reasons why people choose to undertake postgraduate study, but one element to consider is how it can help you in your future career.

Reasons for further study

You have the intellectual ambition to study your subject further, and at a higher level. You are passionate about your subject and you have the time, money and drive to continue studying and enjoy it.

Also take time to consider what your next steps will be after you have finished your studies. What career would you like to pursue in the longer term? This may have an impact on what you wish to study, for how long and in what geographical location.

You want to pursue a career in a particular field which requires a postgraduate qualification or where this type of qualification can definitely give you an advantage over other candidates. Make sure you have done your research and confirmed that a postgraduate qualification is required.

If so, which kinds of courses are preferred by employers? Could you combine an academic qualification and experience by pursuing a course with a placement? And is it an area where you might be able to gain employer sponsorship in terms of time and money for completing the qualification?

If you want to become an academic in the future, then a PhD is almost always a requirement. Make sure you do your research into what life is like as an academic.

Talk to academics about their roles or ask if you could meet some current PhD students to find out about the realities of completing a PhD in your field. Consider the teaching and research elements of an academic career as most roles combine both aspects.

Ask potential supervisors what previous PhD supervisees have gone on to do, their policy on publications during your PhD and speak to them about what else they advise doing to boost your academic profile while you are studying. Find out more about researching departments and potential supervisors.

Reasons for not studying further

You don’t know what to do so postgraduate study will delay your need to make a career decision. Many master's qualifications are intense with a considerable workload so you may finish the course 12 months later without having had time to reflect and without any further ideas about what you want to do.

If you still decide to do the course then take action to boost your employability and get insight into your career direction – get involved in university clubs and societies, gain more work experience or volunteer.

Consider your career plans (even if these are vague) in choosing your course, so that you try and pick a course that will fit in with your career in the future.

Many employers are as interested in skills, qualities and experience as they are in academic qualifications so a master's degree does not automatically give you an advantage.

Many employers will consider applicants from any degree discipline so you may not necessarily need to take this step. Do your research on the career area and speak to employers and people working in this field to clarify before you make any decisions.

A postgraduate degree can sometimes boost your academic record, but not always. Many employers are still rigid in their qualification requirements and a master's may not override their UCAS points or 2:1 rules.

Staying at Cardiff University

There are definite advantages to staying at Cardiff University. You probably know the department and they will know you. You may have friends staying in the area and feel happy about living in the city. There may be finance options available to help you stay such as reduced fees or a scholarship.

On the other hand, it's important to consider whether changing university could benefit your career in the long run. There may be a prestigious course in your field which is available at a different university.

You could make new friends and contacts and broaden your experience, eg by studying abroad. Visit other universities before you make your decision, and don’t just rely on university rankings of the top universities because it is about the whole environment. Make sure you are finding out as much as possible about all of the options to consider which one would be right for you.

Find out more

If you need help with making a decision about postgraduate study, contact us:

Careers and Employability