Career Future Learning

What’s next? Could Postgraduate study be for you?

As you head into the last leg of your final year chances are you’ll have started to think about what comes next. If your unsure about a ‘careers’ following graduation and aren’t excited by the prospect of a 9-5 just yet then further study might be for you. In fact around 20 per cent of undegraduates go on to further study.

If postgraduate study isn’t something you’ve seriously thought about before here are some of the reasons graduates go onto further study:

  • You absolutely love the subject you have been studying at undergraduate level. You still have a passion for it and feel you still have the enthusiasm and commitment for further study. Undertaking specific research during a dissertation or project will allow you to become an authority on your chosen subject, and it’s a real achievement when you see your bound dissertation or thesis.
  • Furthering or enhancing your career prospects. There is a word of caution attached to this school of thought. Whilst academic ability is one of the skills a graduate employer will be looking for, you will need to be able to to articulate all the additional skills your extra studies have given you.
  • That said, postgraduate study is a prerequisite for some jobs (for example, postgraduate conversion courses can enable you to enter a profession you have not studied at an undergraduate level) and can be desirable in others. If this is your primary reason for thinking about further study, you might want to discuss your thoughts further with a careers advisor and do some research on your chosen field.
  • You’re looking for a change of direction. So you are passionate about a subject – just not exactly the one you’re doing?  Many postgraduate courses accept people from a range of related academic backgrounds, so don’t necessarily be put off by your undergrad course. Also some postgraduate courses can act as conversion courses if you want to enter a different job sector, but make sure you do your research about which courses employers are looking for.

Still not sure? Here is what some previous Manchester graduates said about choosing further study

““Further study is very rewarding and also (as expected!) a significant step up from undergrad. I’m very glad that I chose to study at Master’s level initially on a course that’s very similar to my undergrad degree because it’s given me a lot more confidence in academic discussions. Master’s level study, from my point of view, is much more self-directed, with significantly more preparation needed for my courses… I think it’s a seriously worthwhile undertaking in terms of both the range and depth of learning experiences you’re exposed to from early on.” (Mitch Mainstone, English Literature Graduate 2017)

“My postgrad experience so far has been great and humbling. I’ve had the opportunity to not only attend some great speaker events by renowned authors and statesmen, but in fact, my own course mates are individuals with great achievements. It has been a great learning experience and I am working on my research under the supervision of experts who have offered me great guidance. It’s much different to an undergrad because the teaching takes place in much smaller groups and there is a lot more interaction between students and professors.” (Sheza Racheel, Politics and International Relations Graduate, 2017)

All that said, it’s easy to feel rushed or pressured if you have nothing definite planned, but it’s important that you really think about whether postgraduate study is the right option for you.

Other things to consider:

  • Funding. If you need funding for either a Masters it’s important that you explore your options early. There will be information at the study events about funding and sites such as FindAMasters , Find A PhD, Postgraduate Studentships and  Prospects are all really useful resources as is The University website for information about studying here.
  • The University also has a bursary for students who are looking at studying a Master’s at Manchester. The Manchester Master’s Bursary is now open for applications up until 31 May.
  • The application process. Unlike undergraduate there is no UCAS application system for postgraduate study and so make sure you talk to the different institutions you are interested in and find out about their application processes– especially if they have a deadline for the course you are interested in.

Further advice on undertaking postgraduate study and postgraduate courses can be found from The Careers Service , FindAMasters and Prospects.  

If you are in final year and need a little more support with what’s next answer the Careers Services short survey and a Careers Consultant will be in touch to help you get started. Final Year Careers Support Survey.

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