Continue learning – further study

Julie McLellan
Friday 19 November 2021

Postgraduate study is a popular next career step for many St Andrews undergraduates and at this time of year it’s often the focus of careers advice appointments for final year students.

Working as a Careers Adviser, a question I often ask students interested in postgraduate study is ‘why do you want to complete a postgraduate degree?’.

Why are you interested in postgraduate study?

Sometimes it’s because it’s necessary for the career path they intend to embark upon. For example, a PhD is a necessary requirement for pursuing a career in academia. Other potential reasons include a passion for the subject or a desire to enhance their skill set.

Occasionally a student will tell me the reason they wish to pursue postgraduate study is because they are not sure what to do next or it’s been suggested to them by someone else, such as an undergraduate dissertation supervisor. If you are an undergraduate student reading this blog post and fall into this category, it can be helpful to ask yourself a couple of additional questions:

  • What sector or job role am I aiming to work in and how will my postgraduate degree help me get there?
  • What skills and experience will a postgraduate degree give me beyond what I already have gained from my undergraduate studies?

To answer these questions, it’s often necessary to do some research. Sometimes this will involve analysing job adverts and carefully considering the essential and desirable criteria, to assess whether a postgraduate qualification is a common requirement for the role(s) you are interested in.

It may also be helpful to talk to those already working in the sector(s) you are considering to find out how valuable they consider a postgraduate qualification compared to work experience. You could also consider reaching out to those already studying on the courses you are drawn to and finding out what they value most about the curriculum. Networking will not only help you determine the way ahead, but can also be useful in evidencing your motivation, and be something you can refer to within a personal statement or at interview.

How the Careers Centre can support you

Whether or not you embark on postgraduate study, there are various ways in which the Careers Centre can support you in moving forward. The Careers Centre website includes a webpage on postgraduate study which outlines important information such as entry requirements and funding sources. There is also guidance on preparing a personal statement. Or, if you research your options and aren’t sure where to go next, then a careers guidance appointment could be an effective way of supporting you in planning your next career steps.

Overall, undertaking postgraduate study will involve a significant investment of your resources. Taking time to reflect on where it will take you will help ensure that whatever decision you make is the right one for you. Good luck!





Related topics

Share this story

Leave a reply

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.