Think Postgrad: Choosing your course - Questions about your study options

Embarking on postgraduate study is a big investment, of both time and money, and there is a lot to consider. Here are some of the questions we think you might like to ask yourself – and the Universities you are considering:


Where should I study?

You might think this question should come last once you’ve chosen your course, but for some people it may be where you need to start.
Are you prepared to move in order to study? Within the same country? Would you consider studying in a different country? If you can move, do you want to?

Why do I really want to do a postgraduate course?

For most people, the answer to this relates in some way to employment, either to enhance job prospects, enable a change of career, provide specialist knowledge or simply to stand out from the crowd. There are still a lucky few who can afford to study simply for the love of the subject. If none of the above apply to you, could it be that you just want to put off trying to get a job, or you can’t think what else to do? We’d recommend a visit to your careers office if that’s the case.

Is now the right time?

The great thing is you can study at postgraduate level whenever seems right to you –immediately after graduation, after a couple of years in work if you decide you need specialist knowledge, any time if you want a career change, or after a number of years if you want to advance in your career. Increasingly, Universities understand that postgraduate courses need to fit in around your life, rather than you fitting in around the course. If you are returning to study after some years, useful extra questions to ask include how much specific support the University offers for people in your situation, and about the range of students on the course, so you don’t feel isolated.

How do I want to study?

You may only be able to do a particular course if it is full or part-time – it’s useful to consider if you would be prepared to go with a different mode of study even if it’s not your first choice, in order to study the course you want. Increasingly there are lots of distance learning options available, but you need to consider if that is right for you – do you want the conversation and connection with other students and staff, or are you happy to study at a distance?

How much are you prepared/can you afford to pay?

If you are able to see postgraduate study as an investment in your future, it may make it less painful, although maybe not less expensive! Do you have your own money to put in, or do you need funding? Remember you will need living expenses as well as fees. It’s never too early to start looking for funding, either money that comes with the course you want to do, OR, from charities or other organisations. Would you consider working to help finance your studies, and is it better to study part-time and work, or full-time and possibly go into debt?

Do you need Funding for your studies?

If you are looking for funding, check out our Masters Funding pages – browse to your subject area to find courses that come with funding, and other funders that fund courses in your subject area. If you already know where you want to study, you can filter the results to see only the funding from charities.
If you are looking for PhD Funding, have a look at our PhD Funding pages. You can also apply to attend our annual PhD Funding Fair. Meet leading UK Universities with funding on offer, chat to current PhD students, attend talks on how to apply, and find out what it’s really like to be a PhD student.



 
What are your priorities?

Once you’ve thought about the factors above it may be useful to make a list of the priorities you will need to keep in mind when choosing and comparing courses. Some things will be more important than others and your list may change as you discover what the possibilities are. It may not be practical to expect all your requirements to be met in one masters course or PhD, but a list of priorities will help focus your search.


 

 


Next Steps
Looking for a Masters? Search and compare Masters courses now on MastersCompare
Looking for PhD Funding? Meet leading UK Universities with funding on offer at our annual PhD Funding Fair in December.
Receive Email Updates of the latest PhD and Masters opportunities and funding as they are added to PostgraduateStudentships and MastersCompare.
Tell us about your search for postgraduate study or ask us a question on our Think Postgrad Facebook page.