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Why study a postgraduate degree?

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Published: 13 September 2018

If you’ve just graduated from an undergraduate degree and are unsure of your next steps, or have been out of education for a while and are looking for a way to advance or change your career, a postgraduate degree might be just what you’re looking for. A postgraduate degree, (or masters degree) can unlock greater earning potential, further your knowledge of a subject and set you apart from other candidates when applying for jobs. Here we’ll talk you through some of the main reasons why studying a postgraduate degree might be right for you.

mature student in lecture


Expand your knowledge

Studying a postgraduate degree takes your understanding of a subject to the next level. You’ll likely conduct much more detailed research than at undergraduate level, into a more specialised area of your subject, and will be expected to undertake a higher level of independent study. Postgraduate degrees stretch your creativity and maximise your sense of personal fulfilment.

In many of our postgraduate degrees here at Sunderland, you’ll spend the latter parts of your course working on a final project that will be closely aligned to the kind of work you’ll be doing in a related career. For example, in MA Journalism, you can produce your own newspaper or series of in-depth articles, with support from our professional journalists. This sets you up perfectly to continue what you learn into your career once you graduate.


Take the next step

Some jobs will require them, others view them as a bonus, but all employers will recognise the skills that come with studying a postgraduate degree. If you’re just starting out in your career, a postgraduate degree might mean you can start higher up the ladder, or if you’re eager to progress in a current role, it might give you the extra skills and knowledge needed to move up.

The commitment to furthering your understanding of a subject and the additional level of difficulty that comes with studying at postgraduate level will do you no harm when interviewing for higher roles; a postgraduate degree not only broadens your career opportunities but increases your earning power. ‘Graduate Labour Market Statistics 2017’ from the Department of Education show that postgraduates earn, on average, £6,000 a year more than their undergraduate counterparts.


smiling postgraduate students


Change careers

If you’ve hit a dead end in terms of progression in your current career, have found that your existing job isn’t quite as fulfilling as you thought, or just fancy doing something completely different, a postgraduate degree is an opportunity to gain skills in a completely new area.

Many postgraduate degrees don’t require previous study of the subject, and present a chance to change career entirely. Completing a postgraduate degree in your new subject gives you demonstrable knowledge and proof that you are not only educated in the subject, but that you’ve committed time and energy into changing your career and gaining a qualification.

Get funding 

A postgraduate degree isn’t the huge financial commitment it once was. Postgraduate students can apply for a non-means-tested Postgraduate Master's Loan of up to £10,609, and you’ll only repay 6% of what you earn over £21,000. This means that you don’t pay anything if you never earn more than that, and you don’t have to repay the full amount if your repayments are less than what you borrowed. You can find more information about postgraduate fees and loans in our Your Finances section.

On top of that, many of our postgraduate Education courses here at Sunderland are eligible for government funding, with tax-free bursaries of up to £26,000 for trainee Science teachers for example. More information on bursaries and funding is available on getintoteaching.education.gov.uk.

smiling student


For more information on postgraduate courses here at Sunderland, browse our subject areas and courses or get in touch with our Student Helpline on 0191 515 3000.