How to Choose a Master’s Degree in the UK

If you’re on the fence about pursuing a master’s, unsure of where you should study, or undecided on which master’s course is best for you, keep reading. According to Erudera College News, the UK is the second most popular study abroad destination for international students, and its educational institutions are internationally recognized and renowned. There are many factors to consider when choosing a master’s course, which is why it’s important to take your interests, educational background, and future career prospects into account when choosing where to study.

A photo of the University of South Wales.

Courtesy of the University of South Wales.

Educational Background

Generally speaking, your undergraduate subjects don’t have to be in the same field as what you study in graduate school. As an individual’s career and academic interests tend to change over time, it’s not unusual for students to look at graduate studies as an opportunity to make a career switch. 

However, taking what you’ve learned in your undergraduate program and applying it to your future master’s course can save you both time and money. For example, if you’ve received your undergraduate degree in graphic communication, you’ll be in a good position to apply some or all of what you’ve learned to a Graphic Communication Master of Arts like the one offered at the University of South Wales.  

If there’s minimal relation between the undergraduate and postgraduate courses you’re interested in, the institution might require that you complete prerequisite courses or have some work experience in the field. Students who switch their field of study will need to provide the university with a letter explaining why. Similarly, if you have a gap of one or more years between your undergraduate and master’s degrees, be prepared to provide the university with your work experience documented on a resume as well as an explanation for the gap.

A photo of the University of Liverpool.

Courtesy of the University of Liverpool.

Interest (The Field of Work)

Understanding your career aspirations and interests is vital when selecting a master’s course. It’s natural for students to change their minds when choosing a career they want to pursue, which may lead them to change their area of study. Suppose you’ve completed an undergraduate program in computer science, but then realize that you have a growing interest in business analytics and big data. In that case, you shouldn’t let your previous educational background hold you back from pursuing a Master of Science in Business Analytics and Big Data at one of the UK’s renowned academic institutions, such as the University of Liverpool. Being interested in the field of work you enter is paramount, and your choice of master’s course should reflect your passions.

Future Career Prospects

When deciding whether a master’s degree is right for you, you should consider if the course will help you reach your career goals. You’ll want to research the area you’re interested in and network with those working in the field to help you answer this question. 

Receiving the industry scoop can help to guide your selection of a master’s course. ​​For example, you might have an undergraduate pharmaceutical background but are interested in a product and research role in the pharmaceutical industry. Speaking to an industry professional might make you realize that you want to choose a Master of Science in Public Health like the one offered at the University of the West of England, Bristol rather than a pharmacy master’s degree. 

Once graduated, eligible international students can apply to the UK’s new Graduate Immigration Route for a two- or three-year work visa. Students will be required to submit an application and pay the visa fee and Immigration Health Surcharge to be considered for the route. If approved, graduates will be able to stay and gain invaluable UK work experience. 

Work Opportunities

Many academic institutions in the UK offer opportunities for students to gain industry experience. London South Bank University’s  Master of Science in International Tourism and Hospitality Management allows students to explore a career path, network with professionals in their field, and develop and refine their skills through a work placement.

When selecting a master’s course in the UK, ensure you consider the difference between an internship and a work placement. An internship ranges from a week to 12 months, and by law, you would be paid at least the national minimum wage, with the potential for the organization to bring you on full-time.

Short-term work placements are typically completed during term time and are usually between one and three months, while others are one day per week over a longer duration. A “year-in-industry” work placement is a year in length and occurs during a student’s second and final year. Although short-term work placements are generally unpaid, students participating in a “year-in-industry” placement will receive compensation.

Whether through a work placement or an internship, pursuing a master’s degree in the UK will prepare you for a career in your chosen field. 

Course Duration

Many master’s courses in the UK are one year in duration, making it a desirable study abroad destination for international students looking to jump into their careers quickly after graduation. Compared to the average two-year course duration in Canada, the US, and Australia, the UK is a great option to fast-track your studies. Another benefit to shorter master’s courses is that they are typically more affordable for students, as they usually pay less in living expenses and tuition.

When choosing a master’s course, it’s crucial that you consider the course duration and how it fits into your learning style, budget, and career plans. One-year courses are usually fast-paced and allow you to enter the job market promptly. In comparison, two-year courses will typically offer more practical experience to give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.

The UK is currently open to international students, and most schools are accepting applications for January, May, and September 2022 intakes. Due to COVID-19, there’s been an influx of applications from students wanting to study abroad, and many universities have already hit capacity for January, so apply as soon as possible to secure your spot.

Ready to start your study abroad journey in the United Kingdom? Explore more options on ApplyBoard!