Choosing to study for a master’s degree is a huge financial decision and a massive commitment of time for many students. While UK students can get a loan to help them with tuition and living costs when studying for a master’s degree, bear in mind that this will need to be repaid along with any student finance that you got when studying for your undergraduate degree once you are earning £19,390 a year.
So, is getting a master’s degree worth the time and money? In order to most effectively answer that question, it’s important to shift your view of postgraduate study and view it as an investment, rather than an expense. Focusing on the return on investment (ROI) is an essential step, so begin by determining whether or not investing in a master’s degree is going to pay off in terms of your earning potential once you have graduated.
We’ve listed some crucial steps to take and questions to ask yourself when it comes to looking more deeply at the cost and return of getting a master’s degree and determining whether or not it is a worthwhile step for you to take. After all, getting an advanced degree is a personal decision and you will know whether or not it is crucial in order to take the next step towards reaching your career goals.
What’s the True Cost of the Degree?
Many students don’t look beyond tuition costs when it comes to pricing up their master’s degree, but doing this will only end up with you getting caught out in terms of spending. There are many additional expenses that will need to be factored into the total cost of getting your master’s and these will be different depending on the university that you attend and what is and isn’t included with your courses, such as books, learning materials, and other necessary student resources.
It’s important to fully understand all the expenses that you are going to face, such as accommodation or travel costs, purchasing textbooks, and any other necessary resources you will need to effectively get your qualification. Once you have done this, you will be in a better position to start planning your finances ahead of time and avoid any surprises when it comes to what you’re going to have to pay for.
What Will I Have to Pay?
Don’t forget that there are often certain steps that you can take in order to reduce the cost of your advanced degree. Some universities offer students that return to study for a master’s after graduating with a bachelor’s degree a discount for staying at the same university, so this might be worth considering if your university offers a financial reward for staying on.
In addition, speak to the admissions department to determine whether or not there are any scholarships available that you can apply for in order to get some or all of your degree funded. If you have been working for an employer since graduating with your bachelor’s degree and getting a master’s will also benefit them, it’s worth speaking to your employer to see whether or not they have anything in place for helping to fund further education.
Will the Degree Be Financially Worth It?
Determining whether a postgraduate degree is going to be financially worth it is a huge step towards deciding whether it is the right choice for you or not. Check out this post from Exeter University Online on why a master’s degree is worth having and determine whether it applies to your personal career situation. Bear in mind that in most industries, individuals with master’s degrees do tend to earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree, even though this increase in salary or career prospects might not happen immediately, but often will over time as your experience increases too.
Will the Degree Provide Me with More Professional Opportunities?
A major idea to keep in mind is that a degree isn’t a passive trophy to hang on the wall, but rather an active tool to use in the advancement of your career and the furthering of your professional life. Simply having a master’s degree is unlikely to bring career opportunities right to your lap; it’s about which opportunities you will actively seek and put yourself out there as a candidate for. The good news is that when you use it correctly, a master’s degree can be a very useful tool for helping you stand out amongst other job applicants and improve your chances of getting new professional opportunities that may not have been available to you with just a bachelor’s degree. There will certainly be positions that you can now apply for where having a master’s degree is a minimum requirement, but you will need to be prepared to put the work in to get them.
What Impact Will It Have on My Short-Term and Long-Term Career Prospects?
To help you determine whether or not it’s going to be worth the investment, you should ask yourself what you expect the short- and long-term impacts of studying for a master’s degree to be for your career. Although it’s difficult to anticipate exactly what the outcomes are going to be, it’s worth considering questions such as ‘how will I better myself?’ or ‘which career opportunities are this master’s degree likely to open up for me?’. Determining whether or not an advanced degree is going to be a useful choice for you will be easier if you have clearly defined career goals. Will an advanced degree help to get to where you want to be, or could you get there without one?
Are There Any Alternatives?
These days, getting a postgraduate degree is not always the only route available except for in a small handful of careers. If you’re studying in the medical field, for example, a master’s degree might be your only option towards furthering your career, but on the other hand, those who work in business, for example, might have access to a range of professional qualifications and certifications that will have a very similar effect when it comes to career advancement. It’s definitely worth looking into all the options before you decide whether a master’s degree is the right route for you to take. Ask yourself whether the qualification is needed to reach your goals, or whether you could get there with a professional certification that is often much cheaper to obtain and may not take as long as getting an advanced degree.
How Will I Study?
Another question that’s worth asking as you make your decision is how you expect to study for your master’s degree. Do you plan to continue being a full-time student, live on-campus and take physical classes while you get your master’s? Or do you now have commitments to uphold that make that difficult, and therefore will need a more flexible study option in order to complete your degree? For example, if you now have a full-time career that is providing you with valuable experience that can be used towards reaching your ultimate career goals, a flexible online degree course that you can fit around working the same hours might be a better option for you. Or, perhaps your master’s degree requires you to be hands-on in full-time work placements, like many health and social care centred master’s courses. Determine this before choosing which course and university are going to be the best options for you.
Am I Ready?
Before you begin the process of earning a master’s degree, it’s important to make sure that you are completely ready to take the commission on. Getting a master’s degree requires a substantial amount of effort and is a huge commitment of your time, so it’s important that you go in completely prepared for what you are about to face. Now is a good time to ask yourself whether or not your master’s degree is something that you really want; are you motivated enough to go back to student life and take on the workload?
Figure out why you want a master’s degree; are you going to be doing it for the right reasons? For many students, the pressure to find something to do after graduating university means that they choose a master’s as a backup option, so if this sounds like you, consider how you plan to cope with the expectations of becoming a master’s student. It’s not always the best idea to use a master’s degree as a way of prolonging your educational route if you have no real direction when it comes to what you want to use it for.
What Will I Study?
Master’s degree course options tend to be more specific than undergraduate courses and allow you to hone in on specific interests and subjects. Consider whether you are interested enough in your chosen field to continue studying it for another year or two. Bear in mind that postgraduate courses are more intensive, and you’ll be expected to take on more challenging material, so it’s important to be invested.
So, is further study the best option for you? Let us know!