When to study a Masters Course

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is the right time to study a masters?
  • Can you take a break before studying for a masters degree?

Continuing your postgraduate studies with a masters course

If you are thinking about when to study a masters course, you may be wondering if now is the right time? Universities are offering more masters degrees starting throughout the year so its a good idea to be looking now.

Whether you are carrying straight on from your undergraduate studies, or returning to study, here are a few areas you may find it helpful to think about.

Cost - Masters Fees and Funding

The fees for different courses will vary and this will depend on a variety of factors. There is the Government Masters Loan available and more universities are making funding available though scholarships for masters courses. These are offered for specific subjects and on merit. Try not to let cost be the deciding factor on when (or what) you study.

Continuing your masters study or waiting a while

If you are finishing your undergraduate degree you may wish to continue on to postgraduate study immediately. Would it be an advantage to do a masters course before looking at employment?

You could work for a few years before undertaking a masters, and see if the additional work experience helps you decide on the career path to take. Perhaps there is a specialism that appeals to you which will give you an advantage in the job market?

Do you need to 'upgrade' your undergraduate degree in order to enter your chosen career, and therefore a masters course will make it easier to get hired?

You might to want to aim for a PhD. An Integrated Masters is an option at undergraduate level which is offered in mainly STEM subjects. This combines a degree with a masters in a four year course. If you have one of these degrees this could be an ideal route to a PhD.

In arts, humanities and social sciences, you are likely to find that a masters is necessary before applying for a PhD. Some PhD's are longer and incorporate masters level study as part of the programme.

Whatever your subject, a masters course could help you decide if you want to move on to a PhD. If you are in the mindset of studying you would enjoy the challenge.

Returning to masters studies - how long should you leave it?

If you are returning to study sometime after your degree, there are no right answers about when to study a masters course again. It really depends on you and your preferences, and on the courses available. Universities are flexible in their teaching and provision, so that everyone who wants to can study at postgraduate level. .

If you want to advance in your career and think a masters course would help, then your timing may be related to your career stage and to your own personal circumstances. If you need to study part time to fit in with work or for financial reasons then this will take longer than a full time course, but will be just as beneficial in the long run.

How will I fit in to study after a few years away?

You want to study at masters level but are worried about whether you would have the study skills to return. This is normal, and the sooner you start looking into your preferred course options, the sooner you will be reassured.

In most UK universities postgraduate students come from a range of ages and backgrounds, and there is increasing emphasis on the postgraduate community.

Ask the course tutors and administrators about the mix of students on the course. Talk to current or former students with similar circumstances to your own.

University admissions staff will also be able to help you with information about extra study support and skills training if you need it - most universities provide this in some form and will be able to advise you.

Your choices and preferences

As more and more students study at postgraduate level, universities have increased the support they have available for masters level students. They can accommodate students from different career and life stages.

You should find you have plenty of options and can choose to carry on immediately with study, or return to study a masters course after some years, when it suits you and your own personal circumstancesu

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