Four things I wish I knew about studying a Master’s

Molly Judgeon 31 March 2021
graduation

What does studying a Master's really look like, and how is it different to an undergrad degree? Keep reading to find out.

If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you’re considering doing a Master’s, or you’ve already applied. A postgraduate degree is a big commitment, both financially and academically, so you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions before you make your final decision. Here’s everything you should know about a Master’s to decide whether it’s worth it for you.

I’m a student studying a Master’s in Gender and Development. While this has been the hardest year academically (not made easier by the lockdown), it has also been the most rewarding for me. Here’s everything you should know before applying for your most challenging year in education yet. 

1. It’s expensive

Master’s courses cost anywhere between £8-10,000 per annum. Funding your postgrad is more challenging than funding your undergrad degree for two main reasons:

Firstly, government student loans are smaller; instead of lending one loan for tuition and another for maintenance, Student Finance lends you just one loan of around £11,000 (from August 2020), which just covers tuition. You won’t receive enough funding to cover living costs as well so you’ll need to rely on savings, a job or a cheap living situation, such as living at home. You might want to consider taking a year out between your undergrad and Master’s to save up for it (let’s hope the Master’s increases my salary and job prospects!).

Secondly, Master’s degrees are more time-consuming than undergrads, leaving less time and energy for a part-time job. Look for a job that has flexible working hours and doesn’t involve staring at a screen - you’ll spend a lot of time doing that during your studies.

2. Taking a year out is worth it

If you’re planning on diving straight into your Master’s, think again. Your final year of undergraduate study is hard work, but your postgrad will be even tougher. Take a year out and cherish the much-needed break from academia, ready to start your Master’s fresh and excited.

3. It’s not like Freshers

As I said, it isn’t going to be a walk in the park. You can’t get away with skipping the required reading and you will fall far behind if you regularly miss seminars due to hangovers. Consider your reasons for undertaking this academic challenge - if you’re doing it just to avoid working life, then you need to think again about whether it’s right for you. 

4. The alumni rock 

I’ve met so many diverse and interesting people on my course. You’ll find that postgrad students are more varied than the cohort of students you typically meet during your undergrad, but what unites you is your passion for the field. It’s also a great way to make connections to boost your job prospects when you graduate, so make sure to add them on LinkedIn.  

Our key takeaways about doing a Master’s:

  • It’s expensive
  • It’s nothing like Freshers 
  • Don’t choose to do a Master’s out of fear 
  • It’s worth it if you’re passionate and committed 
  • You’ll make great connections 

If that hasn’t scared you off, then congratulations! Now, check out our guide to financially planning your Master’s. And, if you want to start earning a little extra cash, join our Student Panel to receive Amazon vouchers for your thoughts - we’re always interested in hearing students’ perspectives. 

Molly Judgeon 31 March 2021