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Should I do a Master’s Degree?

Should I do a Master’s Degree?

by Newcastle University

Not sure if studying a Master’s degree is right for you? Wondering if you’re ready to commit to further study and worried how you might finance it? Read on to find out about the different Masters’ courses that are available and how they can pave the way to new opportunities.

What is a Master’s degree?

A Master’s degree is a next step after a Bachelor’s degree and you'll usually need a 2:1 at Bachelor’s level, or an equivalent qualification, to be accepted. Most courses are full-time, although part-time options are available in some subjects, as well as programmes that blend online learning with face-to-face teaching.

Masters’ programmes come in two forms: taught and research.

A taught Master’s is normally 12 months in length, and – depending on the subject – could include lectures, seminars, group projects, lab-based sessions, technical skills development and practical experiments.

A research Master’s can take one to two years to complete and will have a greater focus on an independent research project, with less emphasis on taught elements.

Overall, although you’re likely to have fewer lectures and seminars than your undergraduate programme, during a Master’s degree the expectation is on you to do more in-depth reading and analysis, so your learning will be more intense and faster paced.


What are the benefits?

If you’re passionate about your subject a Master’s degree is your chance to explore your chosen field in greater depth. 

You’ll be surrounded by leaders in your field, and work more closely with academic staff who’ll inspire you to think differently. You’ll gain the confidence to apply your own ideas to your studies and will connect with like-minded people in a professional context, learning how to collaborate and discuss your work. You’ll also develop specialist skills as well as valuable transferable skills, such as report writing, time management and problem solving.

Masters’ degrees are well regarded by employers – they show your ability to commit to an intense period of work and study and, in a crowded and competitive jobs market, they can set you apart.

They can also be a first step towards a PhD or even open the door to a different career – lots of Masters’ programmes allow you to switch your subject of interest from your undergraduate degree, so you aren’t limited to continuing your studies in the same area.

Some industries actually require postgraduate qualifications, so if you’re clear on your career goals, it’s worth checking if you need a Master’s level qualification.


Types of Masters’ programmes

Although there are lots of different Masters’ programmes available, they’re all of equal value. The most common offered at Newcastle are shown below, but this list isn’t exhaustive.

  • Master of Arts (MA): this is usually awarded in arts, humanities and social sciences subjects
  • Master of Science (MSc): this is usually awarded in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): this is an advanced postgraduate business qualification that requires students to have at least three years’ continuous professional work experience
  • Master of Research (MRes): this is a research focused degree with taught modules
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil): this is a pure research degree and students may need to hold another Master’s degree
  • Master of Letters (MLitt): this is usually awarded in literature, law, history or related arts and humanities subjects


Funding your studies

The cost of a Master’s degree can vary quite significantly depending on the programme.

When looking for possible funding, it can be difficult to know where to start, as there are many different sources available for both UK and international/EU students. Options range from the Postgraduate Master’s Loan scheme, which offers eligible UK students help with course fees and living costs, to bursaries, scholarships and awards. 

You can search for available funding sources using our database. Simply enter some basic details about where you’re from and what subject you’re hoping to study and the search will return the relevant funding sources.

Our dedicated postgraduate funding website is regularly updated, so you’ll always have access to the latest information.


Your earning potential

As well as boosting your career progression, a Master’s degree should also improve your earning potential.

According to the latest Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2021, within the working age population (16-64 years), the median salary for postgraduates was £42,000 – that's £6,000 more than undergraduates.

The survey also showed that, with a postgraduate degree you’re more likely to get a highly-skilled job – 77.4% of all working-age postgraduates were in highly-skilled employment, compared to 65.2% of all working-age undergraduates.


Is it right for me?

If you’re still weighing up the pros and cons of studying a Master’s degree, ask yourself these 5 key questions:

  • Am I passionate about my chosen subject?
  • Will a Master’s degree help me develop the skills I need for my future career?
  • Will it improve my career prospects?
  • Is a Master’s degree valued by the sector I want to work in?
  • Do I need a Master’s degree to qualify as a professional?

And if the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the above, then it’s time to apply.

We hope you have found this blog useful. To find out more, why not read our blog on making the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

Discover Postgraduate Study at Newcastle