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Where could your postgraduate degree take you?

Updated on 10 June 2020

There are loads of things you can do with a masters degree – whether it's going into a company at a high level because you're more qualified than your peers with bachelors degrees, or immersing yourself in academia with a PhD.

Where could your postgraduate degree take you?

Here are a few ideas about where your postgraduate course can take you...

Into academia

Pursuing higher level graduate qualifications is one of the most popular reasons for students to take up postgraduate courses and masters degrees - and it doesn't have to end once you're got an MA or MSc under your belt.

If deep thought and developing projects long-term is your forte, you might want to consider applying for a PhD. If you choose this route, you may end up making the decision later to stay on at your university as a research fellow or lecturer. A career in academia, whether at your own university or elsewhere, could be your ultimate goal.

Into increased employability

Completion of a masters sets you apart from the thousands of other students that enter the graduate job market every year, so if all goes well you will graduate as an expert either in a particular academic subject or a specialist in a particular career area.

However, you can't rest on this knowledge – simply having a masters and telling employers you have one won't be enough.

Instead make sure you focus on the skills (whether soft or technical) that the course has given you, and ensure that you highlight how they're relevant to the job or industry that you're applying for. This is extremely important – especially if you're applying for a job (teaching, for example) where everyone has extra qualifications and more is needed to set candidates apart.

Into a skills-based career

In a lot of cases your masters course might lead you to a career that requires extra vocational or practical qualifications, which haven't been provided by your degrees thus far. Examples include the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and the Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism. Both these careers are excellent for those who have thought deeply about and become experts in particular subject areas.

Into a higher earning bracket (...eventually)

It might take a few years to kick into effect, but a report from the Sutton Trust in 2013 found that those with a masters degree can expect to see it pay off rather well. On average, this ‘Postgraduate Premium' adds up to a whopping £200,000 over the course of a 40-year working life. That's £5,500 per year, on average.

In the USA, the Postgraduate Premium is even more pronounced. According to the report, those with postgraduate qualifications in the United States could see a £10,300 difference to their pay cheque every year.

Aside from this, an analysis of the backgrounds of billionaires that was carried out by Go Compare earlier this year found that they were much more likely than not to have gone to university – and that they were also very likely to have completed a postgraduate degree.

According to the research, 76% of those featured in Forbes' top 100 billionaires lists over the past 20 years have a degree, whilst 23% have a masters and 6% are educated to doctorate level.

If that's enough to convince you that studying for a masters degree is the right thing to do, we're not sure what is.