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2:32pm 14 Feb 2023

Master's Degrees - What are they? Should I do one? How do I search and apply?

What is a Master’s degree? 

  • A Master’s is an academic degree given to individuals who have demonstrated a mastery or high-order overview of a field of study or area of professional practice.
  • Usually done after an undergraduate degree, taking one year full time to complete (with some exceptions).
  • Can take the form of a Master’s of Science (MSc), Research (MRes), Arts/Humanities (MA), Business Administration (MBA), plus many other varieties.

How is it different to my undergraduate degree?

  • Higher level of ability required due to the step-up in intensity from undergraduate study
  • A student is expected to work all year round (usually September to August) as it is 180 credits rather than 120.
  • Class sizes are often smaller, allowing for more tailored teaching and in-depth discussion.

Should I do a Master’s? 

Choosing whether or not to do a Master’s degree is a very personal decision and at the end of the day, the decision has to be yours. We in the Careers+ team want to make sure you have done enough research to make an informed decision, so with that in mind you should ask yourself three questions:

Can I afford it?

  • Take into account the tuition fees, living costs, books and study materials and travel costs.
  • Find out if you are eligible for a tuition fee loan from the Student Finance England or a reputable third party.
  • If you are a final year undergraduate or a recent BCU graduate planning on studying for a Master’s degree, you could be eligible for a 20% fee discount to support your studies. Please visit the main BCU website for further details.
  • Visit the BCU webpages for further information on sources of funding and support.

Do I have the motivation?

  • Studying a Master’s degree is a big commitment and you need to be sure that you will give it 100%.
  • If you’re feeling a little burned out from your undergraduate degree, you could choose to take a year out to work or travel so that you come back feeling refreshed, (but ask yourself if you will definitely come back)?
  • If you don’t think a full time schedule will work for you for whatever reason, you could do a part time Master’s and give yourself more time for study or to work part time.

Which subject do I choose?

  • There are a lot of different Master’s degrees out there to choose from so make sure you will enjoy what you study.
  • Consider what career path you will hope to take after the Master’s degree; will this course help you reach this goal?
  • Look at the breakdown of modules to make sure you will find the subjects interesting. You could also consider picking a Master’s that gives the option of a work placement.
  • You may choose to continue to study the subject in which you did your undergraduate degree, or you could choose to convert your studies into a new area. For example, you could study Psychology then study Human Resource Management to boost your chances of getting into the HR sector or you could study a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) to convert your subject to teach in a state school or college.
  • Visit Prospects for advice and to search for postgraduate courses in the UK, including research and professional courses.
  • Visit the BCU postgraduate pages to find out more about the 120 courses we offer.

How do I search and apply?

  • Once you know which subject you want to study, you could research which universities are considered good teachers of this subject. Websites include Prospects, Masters Compare and Find a Masters.
  • If you know which local universities you prefer, you could look directly at their websites to see an online prospectus of courses to narrow down.
  • When you’re ready to apply, most universities ask you to apply directly with them through their website (many professional courses have separate sites such as teaching (through UCAS) and Legal Practice /GDL (through CABS).
  • You’ll likely be asked to write a personal statement which tends to be 2 pages of A4, outlining your suitability and motivations for studying the chosen course. For support on writing this, you can meet with a careers consultant, attend one of our workshops on the subject or visit websites such as Studential and Prospects for further information.

How do I get more advice and support?

  • Meet with one of our expert Careers Consultant to discuss further study options by making an appointment.
  • Speak to your lecturers or current postgraduate students to find out more about life as a postgraduate student
  • Check out our events for workshops on considering postgraduate study and how to write a personal statement on our Events page.

Further resources

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