Does a master's degree make you any more employable?

 

As the possibility of unemployment looms for many, more than 500,000 each year choose to pursue further study in the form of a postgraduate taught programme such as a master's. The motivation behind this decision is often related to belief that a higher-level qualification will result in a better job. But does the CV addition of an MA, MBA or MSc actually improve employment prospects?

Steff Young, an MA literature student at the University of East Anglia, believes that a master’s degree develops greater abilities than an undergraduate qualification.

“Postgraduate study certainly builds on the skills acquired at undergraduate degree level: time management, self-discipline and working to deadlines,” she said.

Young adds that a master’s has a distinctive way of preparing students for the working world.

“It develops a new form of maturity. You are no longer the student to the teacher. Rather, you are and your peers are fellow researchers working in the field. This creates a whole new dynamic and mode of conversation, and confidence, which would enable you to walk into a workplace as a professional, rather than a graduate or intern.”

But, in practice, can doing a master’s score you a better job? Nathan Parcells, CEO of InternMatch.com, thinks so, but added that getting the job you want is about more than just a qualification.

“Continuing education is clearly important, but the value of a master’s degree depends on what you do with it,” said Parcells. “A master’s degree in digital marketing examines analytics, social media, and search marketing. While you can clearly learn about these subjects out of the classroom, practical knowledge and studying these principals are the foundation for success.”

“But the focus must also be on what you do during your program, such as taking on valuable internships, connecting with executives, and sharpening your skills,” he added.

Nina Holland, an international relations student at the University of Warwick, said: “I chose to do an MA because I wanted to deepen my knowledge and acquire a specialism. In a field as diverse and ever-changing as politics, the value for me was in showing my interest and understanding of a particular area within it.”

Often, though, postgraduate study can be about changing direction rather than specialising, and this too can enhance career options.

Kathryn Hughes, director of life writing at the University of East Anglia, highlights the variety of backgrounds her students come from: “On the MA [in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction] we’ve had everyone from surgeons to asparagus farmers, psychoanalysts to bar tenders. Some people have PhDs in Literature and others have just finished a BA in Computer Studies.”

Josh Bowker is studying for an MA in Art History at the University of Edinburgh, after completing an undergraduate degree in Music. He said: “Choosing to do a master’s in a different subject area has definitely opened up employment opportunities that weren't there before.”

Relocating to pursue postgraduate study is another factor that can demonstrate skills and positively impact your access to career openings, Bowker explained: “I moved both university and subject so I have been able to add considerably to my knowledge and challenge my abilities in a different field and in a foreign environment.”

A master’s programme can also be a significant way of networking to secure later employment opportunities. Andy Smith, a graduate from the University of Manchester’s MBA programme, said: “My decision to pursue postgraduate study was about the amazing career prospects Manchester Business School offered. It gave me the chance to develop a network of contacts and get my name out there in the right circles.”

Being proactive is incredibly important in achieving the outcomes desired from a postgraduate course. Dedicating a year to a subject is advantageous, but it takes more than that alone to improve employability.

“It’s not so much about the piece of paper, but what you do with it,” Parcells advised. “Use this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the space, network with insiders, and gain additional knowledge through internships. Build upon your master’s degree.”

The pursuit of any form of study to enhance future career prospects is a gamble, but by engaging with the available opportunities, it can also be a worthy investment.

Follow Lauren on Twitter here

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes