To MSc or not MSc? That is the question

Or equally “To MA or not to MA?” though MSc just kind of sounded better. And it’s an appropriate question on this day of The Bard’s birthday and at this time of the academic year. Because, alongside completing dissertations and final year projects and beginning that crucial exam cramming, the question of whether to then apply for a Masters course to extend your time at university may be one on your mind.

The Guardian also thought it timely enough to feature this recent article debating whether it’s really going to enhance your job prospects. Given its cost and the extra year (2 years for part time Masters) it means inside academia and not outside in the working world gaining work experience it’s a question worth pondering! Particularly look out for the wise words of Charlie Ball of HECSU and Stephen Isherwood of the Association of Graduate Recruiters – wise owls indeed.

And if in doubt, ask the very employers you might then be submitting your applications to 12 months from now. If it makes you no more attractive to them than you are at this very minute then you may want to think again.

David Gilchrist


  1. In the past traditionally you would consider doing a Masters because either:
    1. You enjoyed studying and wanted to continue improving your knowledge to an indepth level opting for depth rather than the breadth that a degree offers.
    2. You wanted to improve your job prospects.
    To be honest the second reason is commonly adopted by many City University London students, since the Uni’s focus is on business and the professions plus the rise in competition for graduate opportunities both nationally and internationally has made this a popular option for those that can afford the fees.

    If you are considering a Masters based on the second reason, perhaps consider the real added value of doing the Masters. Ask yourself questions such as:
    1. Is the Master a common requirement sought in the role and sector I aspire to?
    2. Is it professionally recognised by employers?
    3. Does it have acreditation with the professionally recognised body woven into it. This may be desirable.
    4. Return on investment. Will my income go up significantly with the Masters? And if so will I be able to recoup costs?
    5. Could I organise doing the Masters part-time when in work with the employer sharing or covering costs?

    Points 4 and 5 also depend on your financial situation. This may not be an issue if you have funds. If you decide to take a loan with a bank you may need to prove not just to yourself but to them that a masters is a worth while investment with a return.

  2. PS On the Masters. Also bear in mind that Unis may offer scholarships or support around fees. So make sure you look into this if you need to keep an eye on cost. Its worth thinking about the part-time option.

    Final PS On the Masters. Also consider the reputation of the institution you pick and what it may mean to opportunity providers such as employers.

    Just some thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *