To Master or not to Master?


Education. This is the “business” we’re currently in. Each of us chose a path for our next step in education at least a year ago. And since this is most likely the final step of the journey, it’s very important to make the most of it. For most students, your university degree lasts 3 years. However, some of you may choose to continue your education with further study of a Masters or PhD. Question is: Is it worth doing?

Being a 3rd year Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineering student at the University of Leeds, I have asked myself this very question. Should I continue my studies and do a Masters year as well? Is it worth my time and effort? Will it improve my chances of landing a great job? Will I learn anything? These are all questions that probably most students in my position are asking or have asked themselves.

The general consensus among students is that further study (Masters or PhD) does add value to your educational experience. However, as with everything, this is a choice that each and every one of us has to make according to the circumstances in our lives. In order to find the answer, we need to look at what this entails.

First of all, another year means more money spent on tuition fees, accommodation and the accompanying costs that a year at university brings. For EU students such as myself, the only costs covered (at least until I have to pay them back) are the tuition fees. Therefore, everything else has to come from personal sources. And bear in mind that these costs are not small, and increasing with each year. And if you’re unlucky to have to pay your tuition fees too, especially with the new sky-scraping ones, then you’re in for a “treat”. So the question you have to ask yourself is: Can I afford all the extra costs? Will this qualification provide me with a better job which will allow me to pay off the debt incurred?

Another aspect to consider is the industry/sector you’re in. Is further study going to make a difference? There are sections of the economy where further study is not needed in order to secure a good job. However, there are also sectors where a Masters degree is almost compulsory to get into the sector.  So in order to figure out if you should take this extra step, you need to do your research. Read articles, talk to people in the industry, graduates of the university, family, friends. Since it will most likely affect the rest of your life, listen to everyone and then make an informed decision on what to do.

Finally, we have the personal aspect. Half of university life is about professional development – learning about your desired trade and gaining the knowledge and skills to work in the industry of your choice, along with improving your chances of getting a good job. But the other half of university life is about your personal development. This half is about  gaining new personal skills and life experience, developing new hobbies, making friends and having fun. The personal half is just as important as the professional one.  Will this extra year contribute to your personal development as well?

So, to answer the initial question: Is it worth doing? Well, what do YOU think? Analyse all the aspects described above and see how they apply to you. Perhaps then you will have a better idea of what to do. However, if you’re stuck, do not despair. There’s always someone around to lend a helping hand: parents, friends, colleagues, lecturers, tutors, Careers Centre staff. You just have to ask.

See our website for more information on further study options. To talk your options through with an adviser, come to our drop in, Monday to Friday 9-4pm.

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Filed under Postgraduate study

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