The sigh of relief when you submit your dissertation and complete the last exam of your undergraduate degree is a feeling that can be hard to replicate. This is why the idea “should I study a master’s degree?” is a thought that has crossed most students’ minds at least once. Perhaps this has always been a part of your academic plan or maybe the idea may have become more enticing as you neared the end of your undergraduate degree.
If you’ve been a student for three or more years, the thought of suddenly not being one anymore can be really scary, trust me I know. And there is no shame in choosing to study a master’s degree to stay in the safety net of academia for one more year. In fact, it can only improve your chances of employment and give you more time to discover yourself and what you want to become.
Regardless of why you decide to study a master’s degree, there are a number of factors to consider before you embark on the new phase of your student journey.
Should I take an academic break?
The question of whether or not to take an academic break before you study a master’s degree is one which should be considered based on your individual needs. Some students will find it easier to stay in the zone and carry on to study at postgraduate level the following September after graduating. On the other hand, some students will opt to take some time away from studying to rest from potential burnout or simply reward themselves with some time off from working hard. It’s important to know when considering this that there is a third option, and that is to choose a course with a Jan/Feb start as opposed to Sept/Oct start. These courses run throughout the summer break and give you the time to refresh your brain from the lifestyle and mental strain that comes with being a student and offers you the chance to reflect to make sure this is a choice that is really best for you.
Factors to consider when choosing a postgraduate course
Once you’ve decided yes to the question “should I study a master’s degree?”, it’s time to start shopping around for the right fit. The first decision is to decide what subject/field you want to study. UCAS is a great place to search for different courses and see which universities are offering them.
Here are some factors to look at when choosing to study a master’s degree:
Decide whether you want to study full or part time and for how many years. You could even opt to study a semester abroad or take a placement term if your subject is eligible.
Each course will have its own tuition fee cost and this varies from one university to the next. Many universities offer discounts to their alumni to carry on their studies there at postgraduate level and this is often a discount of ⅓ off. Make sure you choose a course which you can afford and remember postgraduate student finance operates differently than undergraduate, more on this later.
Two degrees with the same title at various universities can consist of entirely different modules and content. You’re not just studying for the title at the end of the day, it’s the content that also matters. Take time to review the modules on offer to ensure you’re going to be learning content that is relevant to your future career.
There are multiple location options to consider when you study a master’s degree. But many postgraduate students opt for commuting while living with family to be able to save money on rent or even apply to courses for fully online studying such as with the Open University. This can be a great option if you already have a stable job and even family and moving to a new location is not a viable option.
Deposits you need to save for studying a masters degree
As a graduate who has recently gone through the master’s application stage myself, I was caught off guard by the amount of money I needed to have saved up just to choose a course. This is because my course required a £2,000 tuition fee deposit to firmly accept my offer. So instead of thinking I had 6 months to save up I actually needed to have that money at hand ASAP. Following on from this, when I applied for on campus accommodation I was asked to pay a fee deposit also. This is the case for most tenancy agreements so the message here is to be aware that you will be expected to pay deposits in advance of starting your course so make sure that money is saved and put aside.
Postgraduate Student Finance
Postgraduate students can apply for student finance, but there is only one loan as opposed to both the tuition fee and maintenance loan for undergrads. The current maximum loan postgrad students can apply for is £12,167. The loan will be paid directly to your bank account in instalments, depending on the length of your course and it is up to you to use it how you see fit. If your course fees are less than this then you can use the remaining funding for living expenses, and if your course fees exceed this then you will be required to pay the excess, with no living expenses covered.
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
As a postgraduate student you are able to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you meet the eligibility requirements (see more on that here). A great way to support your learning at postgraduate level is with a Jamworks Pro subscription. You can access this for free as part of your DSA offers as it can be used to support the learning of disabled and neurodivergent students at university through the use of AI generated study tools. The Jamworks DSA Community is a great space for students to access help and support during their DSA application process, you can join here and get started with applying today!
Non-disabled students can also utilise the Jamworks app to improve their study ability and get better grades at university, click here to learn more!
Most universities offer campus accommodation to postgraduate students which can be a great option to choose if you’ve chosen to attend a new uni to study a master’s degree in a place where you don’t know people to house share with. Alternatively there are many groups on Facebook such as Gals Who Rent where many mature students and professionals are seeking housemates.
Working while studying a masters degree
As there is no maintenance loan available to postgraduate students it is worth considering whether or not you will work while you study a master’s degree. Some courses require students to complete placement which can be both paid or unpaid, leaving little time for additional job opportunities. Being able to work while studying is a challenge that doesn’t suit every student, but it is an effective way to cover your rent if you haven’t been able to save up to study a master’s degree and don’t want to wait another year. Make sure to look at your timetable before committing to working hours as your lectures should be your main priority.
As you can see, choosing to study a master’s degree is not a straightforward decision but by considering the steps outlined it is a path that can be greatly beneficial for you and your career. Studying a master’s degree will be a different experience to being an undergraduate student, but this doesn’t mean the learning support available to you will change. As technology modernises and develops each year, now is a better time than ever to expand your study methods and be open to incorporating AI study tools into your revision sessions. A great place to start is with Jamworks which has everything you could possibly need available within the app; lecture recording software, automated transcripts and live captioning, flashcards and revision quizzes, summaries and key points and notably the Jamworks AI Tutor. Whether you choose to embark on a study adventure at a new university or you study a master’s degree by staying local, you’ll always have support available to you whenever and wherever you need it with the Jamworks app.
Get support while you study a master’s degree with the Jamworks app – click here to get started!