How To Choose A Good Postgraduate Course And Study

How To Choose A Good Postgraduate Course And Study

It’s a new year and resolutions are usually made at this time of the year.

At least Jane has made hers. It’s hard to say for everyone out there what they expect to achieve this year. Jane anyway, has resolved to obtain a Master’s degree after her bachelor’s and one-year work experience and needs direction on picking the right degree.
Let us first examine Jane’s reasons for wanting to obtain a Master’s degree

  • To seek an academic challenge
  • Will increase in knowledge, professional expertise, and skills
  • To develop research skills (MRes courses or an eventual PhD)
  • Will gain a qualification that will progress her desired career
  • To increase the chances of employment in a chosen field
  • To experience life at a university abroad in a different country

Types of Programmes

To further break down the choices available to you (Jane), one of the first things you’ll notice about master’s programmes (and their scholarships) on After School Africa is the varying titles they have. You may have seen an ‘MBA” or a ‘taught master’ or a ‘research master’ used to describe a Master’s study program. What are they?

Taught programmes (M.A, M.Sc, LL.M etc)

Most Master’s degrees are taught programmes. The most commonly taught Master’s programs are the MA (‘Master of Arts’) and the MSc (‘Master of Science’). As their names show, they are similar to undergraduate BA and BSc. 

They usually involve completing a series of timetabled units across two semesters before undertaking an extended individual research project or dissertation.
Specific subjects (particularly those in vocational fields such as Law, Architecture, or Education) sometimes use their own titles and abbreviations (such as LL.M, M.Arch, or M.Ed).

Research programs (MPhil, MRes)

Other Masters’s degrees focus much more on a student’s ability to undertake independent research tasks. The most common are the MRes (‘Master of Research’) and the MPhil (‘Master of Philosophy’).


The MBA (or ‘Master of Business Administration) on the other hand, is a qualification designed for business professionals who are seeking to advance their careers. MBA courses are usually only considered by students with very specific goals and generally require a number of years of professional experience. For this reason, they don’t tend to follow straight from undergraduate study.
There are thousands of courses that fall under the classification of the master’s degrees above. Understandably, they seem to be very similar with almost identical titles. So how do you choose?

1. Do you have a natural affinity for a particular course?

To pursue any further study, you should have a natural aptitude for the subject. Ideally, you should also be quite sure you want to work in a related field after the course. Pursuing a second degree for a talent you possess greatly stands you out.

Granted, a postgraduate qualification doesn’t give you the ultimate access to given expertise – there will still be a lot of competition after you’ve finished, hence a lot of learning. However, the postgraduate student has more specialist knowledge, thus differentiating him/her from a large pool of competitors.

2. Do you possess the necessary prerequisites?

If you managed to gain a Bachelor’s degree at your university, it does not mean that you will be automatically accepted to their Master’s program. Be aware of the prerequisites. Most institutions take into consideration the grade of your first degree, so be sure to put a lot of work and time into it.

Some majors require entrance essays, others interviews, and there may even be a list of topics that you can be questioned on. Be sure to get enough information before applying for a course simply because it somehow relates to your first degree because it would be unimaginable to fail at a course related to your first degree.

3. Will it qualify you for a desired job or career?

If you are going to study in order to become a qualified professional, then check that the course is recognized by the relevant professional body or that it’s one an organization recognizes. If it is not recognized, then this is not a qualification for you.

It is advisable to choose a Master’s that adds to the list of your talents and abilities and shows your dedication to your chosen path. Some programmes require their students to do an internship, which can also look good on a CV, not to mention the chance it may provide for forming valuable professional networks.

4. What happened to previous students?

Do not choose a course for its fancy name. Many students often get carried away with the Rosey description of a course that they often wonder halfway into the program why they are studying that course.

If you are unsure about what a course is about, it may help to find out what happened to people who have completed the course. Just because a course is called ‘Forensic Science’, for example, does not necessarily mean that the majority of its graduates actually make a career in those areas. The admissions tutor may paint a rosy picture, telling you how their best graduates got into fantastic jobs.

5. Do you have adequate finances to fund your studies?

Students who are still dependent on the family purse may find it hard to pick the most suitable course. However, should these students change universities or even faculties, there is still the possibility of finding a fitting course. Your destiny to succeed does not lie in the hand of one university.

Be sure to check beforehand the cost of living in the university dormitories and any other costs that may arise. Books and accommodation are not always cheap, especially combined with the costs of food and transportation. Be aware of your limitations and look for information on scholarships and other aids for students.
To complement the information above, you can also seek advice from the following:

  • Academics – talk to your own tutors and other relevant academics and use their knowledge and networks;
  • Your career adviser – a careers adviser has no vested interest and will discuss the pros and cons of particular courses impartially and perhaps suggest other options;
  • Employers and professionals – talk to employers at fairs and presentations, and use the contacts of your networks to extract information before going in for a course that may change the direction of your life forever.

Top 10 Highest Paying Masters Degrees

Are you interested in the highest-paying jobs? According to research, bachelor’s degree holders earn more than high school graduates.

Get your master’s degree. Your starting salary and earning potential will increase. Your earning potential may be limited if you only have a bachelor’s degree.

The following is a list of the top-paying master’s degrees. The list includes master’s degrees in business administration (MBA). Master of Science and Master of Arts programs are also available. These programs last approximately two years.

Specific financial aid information can be found by checking programs.

Are you still debating what to study for your advanced degree? This list of the highest-paying master’s degrees can assist you. Here are some of the top master’s degrees for earning a high salary. Find a career that suits you.


Petroleum Engineering – Mid-career: $187,600
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists – Mid-career: $162,800
Strategy – Starting Salary: $114,040
Entrepreneurship – Mid-career: $138,300
Marketing Management – Mid-career: $135,300
Economics (MBA) – Mid-career: $131,800
Computer Science – Mid-career: $129,900
Marketing and International Business – Mid-career: $128,200
Finance – Mid-career: $126,800
Electrical Engineering – Mid-career: $124,700

The salaries listed are the national averages. These are all excellent fields. An engineer may begin with a salary of less than $100,000. A seasoned, well-known expert in the field can command six figures. There are several variations. Salary levels for the same job in different locations or organizations will vary.


You can also visit our career tips category, in other to see more inspiring topics and learn more. And equally, visit the official homepage of Moden News.

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