Choosing to start a postgraduate degree is a big step, so how do you know if it’s the right choice for you? To help you weigh up your options, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages below.
The advantages of postgraduate study
You can move up the career ladder
Whether you are seeking work or hoping to be promoted in your role, a postgraduate degree can help you get there. You might choose to upgrade your skills through a higher qualification in your field, or use a program such as an MBA to make a move towards management. For new graduates, postgraduate study may be the only way to secure a coveted role in their industry of choice. There are also some fields in which a postgraduate qualification is required to gain professional registration, such as architecture.
You can change your career
Postgraduate courses also provide an opportunity to change track in your career. You might have studied law at undergraduate level, but want to swap the courtroom for the classroom. Why not enrol into a graduate diploma of education? You can use postgraduate study to pursue less drastic moves too, such as transitioning from communications into marketing, or from a cinema major to animation. Although you can enter any field you like at graduate level, some individual courses require students to have a relevant degree, so we advise reading course information carefully.
There’s a postgraduate course to suit everyone
What many prospective students don’t know is that there are actually seven types of postgraduate programs, including coursework, research and VET sector options. This means that there’s likely to be a course that suits you. You might choose a six-month graduate certificate to ease yourself back into formal study or opt for a longer masters degree if you want to change the direction of your career. Postgraduate programs are also very flexible, accommodating students through full-time, part-time, online and block study modes, as well as evening study and optional summer semesters.
The disadvantages of postgraduate study
Postgraduate courses can be expensive
Coursework students generally pay full fees at postgraduate level, which means that tuition can be expensive. You may also need to fund additional costs such as study tours, which are common in business and management programs. The good news is that eligible postgraduates can access the FEE-HELP loan scheme, which allows students to pay course costs through the taxation system as a percentage of their earnings. Research students are usually supported by the federal government’s Research Training Scheme and are exempt from paying tuition fees.
You will need to make sacrifices
Whether this means giving up your full-time income or missing weekends away with friends, be prepared to make some sacrifices. On top of the hours you spend in class, you will need to dedicate a significant amount of your free time to independent study. Managing competing priorities may be testing, especially if you have a heavy workload and family commitments. Before enrolling into further study, it is important that you have support from your family and employer. For example, you may need to take study leave at peak assessment periods or leave work early to attend class once a week.
Postgraduate study may not be required in your field
The rule of thumb is that postgraduate study improves your job prospects, but you need to consider whether this is the case in your field of work. It may be more important to get work experience or take time out to network with industry peers. The same applies to new graduates, who might find it more worthwhile to gain a few years’ experience than to rush into postgraduate study before they’ve decided on a career path.
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