Former LSE Economics and Economic History student Arnab Datta provides his thoughts on postgraduate education.
There is no doubt that studying an undergraduate degree is hard work, so you may think twice before embarking on further study, such as a Master’s degree. Before making this decision, it is important to weigh up the advantages of another qualification with the costs, which may not only be the high tuition fees!
Deciding to study a Master’s degree should not only be motivated by career prospects, but really by your desire to explore the subject in greater depth. Also, it will give you a chance to focus more on independent research and specialise in a particular area during your thesis, for example. Still, one of the driving factors for career minded individuals is about showing employers that they have obtained a more advanced qualification compared to most of their peers and thus stand out in the graduate jobs market. This in turn may mean you can negotiate a higher starting salary when you enter your first job.
Another benefit is networking since you are likely to have closer contact with lecturers and professors than during your undergraduate degree. This means that you can get careers advice specifically geared towards your subject area. An added bonus may be if your lecturers have contacts in industry, with whom you can be put in touch with to get specific advice. Some jobs require a deeper knowledge of a particular subject and so speaking to people will give you a better understanding of the range of careers available. Still, it is not worth the significant costs of further study if you are unsure of which career path to follow and need more time to make a decision.
One of the main drawbacks with further university study are the high tuition fees, as well as the need to fund your living costs for another year or two. You can get financial support, but this will inevitably create a greater financial burden to be repaid after graduation. Therefore, it may be worthwhile exploring other opportunities, such as graduate training schemes. In some cases the company you join will pay the costs of tuition and professional exams and you can work at the same time. This will be challenging and you will have to carefully manage your time, but it is a good way of establishing yourself in certain career sectors, like Finance.
Overall, the decision to continue with your university studies should be made based on your interest in the subject, as well as considering whether there will be enhanced career prospects. If there are specifically tailored graduate training programmes available for a career, then you should go in that direction. In the end, it is important to explore all of the avenues including speaking to professionals and careers advisers to see which option will help you develop most in the long-term.
Visit the LSE Careers website for more information and resources for students considering postgraduate study.