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Things to consider when choosing a masters degree

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Are you thinking about postgraduate study, but not sure where to begin? It’s important to do your research before applying to university, to work out which course you want to study and where you want to study it.

To help you get started, here are some things to consider when choosing a masters degree:

A female student is standing in the library holding a book and smiling to something off camera

1. Will this course enhance my career?

Postgraduate study is a great way to climb the career ladder. Holding a masters degree can help you progress more quickly and gain more senior roles as you become more knowledgeable in your chosen field. It can also lead to higher salaries – according to Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2019 from the Department for Education, postgraduates earn on average £8,000 a year more than undergraduates.

Postgraduate study is also an excellent way to embark on a new career: choose from a range of conversion courses and study a masters degree in a completely new subject.

2. What opportunities are available?

As well as an excellent qualification that can help develop your career, what else can postgraduate study offer you? At Sunderland, we offer opportunities that can add to your student experience, such as work experience, volunteering and the chance to gain extra qualifications alongside your degree.

If you study MA Visual Practice, you’ll be encouraged to gain creative industry experience, such as working on live commissions, entering competitions and exhibiting work in public exhibitions.

MSc Leadership in Criminal Justice and Policing offers you a unique opportunity to volunteer as an appropriate adult during your studies, through the Local Appropriate Adult scheme, founded and ran by our Criminology academic team in collaboration with the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northumbria Police. Through this, you could achieve an additional professional qualification – a Level 2 QCF accredited gateway qualification, in working as an appropriate adult for vulnerable adults and juveniles.

And our Applied MSc courses, such as MSc Applied Project Management or MSc Applied Cybersecurity enable you to undertake a placement (subject to availability) and put your new skills into practice.

Interested in running your own business or freelance practice? The Digital Incubator and the Enterprise Place can help get you started.

3. What finanicial support is available?

Postgraduate students are usually entitled to a government-backed postgraduate loan from the Student Loans Company. This helps to pay your course tuition fees and provide any additional support you may need, such as textbooks or travel to a placement. To find out what you could be entitled to, see the government’s website: www.gov.uk/funding-for-postgraduate-study 

It’s also worth researching any scholarships or bursaries that might be on offer. Here at the University of Sunderland, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries, including the Skills Boost North East Discount, which is a fee waiver of 20% on the full cost of course fees for all postgraduate taught Masters programmes of study (subject to terms and conditions). We also offer an Alumni Loyalty Scheme; if you’re a University of Sunderland graduate enrolling onto one of our full-time or part-time postgraduate courses, you’ll receive 20% off your course tuition fee.

Some of our scholarships require you to apply, so make sure you’re aware of any application deadlines. Contact our scholarships team for more information about our scholarships and bursaries: scholarships@sunderland.ac.uk / 0191 515 2865.

4. Can I manage the work/life balance?

Combining your studies with family or work commitments can be a bit of a juggle, so choosing a course that works around your lifestyle is an important consideration. Is there a part-time option available? Can you study online? Perhaps the course you’re interested in is taught through a hybrid method of learning – partly on campus and partly online. If you’re interested in studying at Sunderland, you’re in luck – we offer a range of flexible learning opportunities, including part-time study and independent distance learning (IDL). For more information about flexible learning at Sunderland, check out our next steps page.

Further information

Join us at our next Online Postgraduate Open Day to learn more about our postgraduate degrees and student life at Sunderland.

Published: 19 May 2021