Does postgraduate study really improve job prospects?

February 27, 2015
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Many students end their university years with a bachelor degree, breathing a sigh of relief after the graduation ceremony and preparing themselves for a career in that field of study. But given the fiercely competitive job market, is a bachelor degree really enough when postgraduate studies remain a viable option?

Many disregard a path often seen as expensive, strenuous and not vital to career progression, so do job opportunities enhance with master degrees and longer essays?

To help answer these questions Hijacked interviewed two current postgraduate students. Katrina Nestoriwskyj is a 24-year-old student at Monash University, studying a Master of Teaching (Secondary). Zoe Hattaway is 26 and studies a Master of Finance at RMIT.

HJCKD: What were the reasons for entering into postgraduate study?

Katrina craves new information, enjoying school from a young age and eager to continue after the completion of her bachelor degree.

“I need an education degree so I can pursue my dream of becoming a music teacher, and without the extra qualification jobs are limited,” she says.

Zoe wants a degree that is internationally recognised overseas and one that will open opportunities abroad, not satisfied with what has been achieved so far.

“I believe in today’s highly educated society that an undergraduate degree, although useful, does not hold the value it once did.”

HJCKD: In your experience, what are the benefits of further study?

Katrina cites the online component, as previous subjects were practical based and required attendance on campus. Stress levels are also reduced as prior knowledge allows for enjoyment and focus. Staff support is much more personal and inclusive, while study loads and standards are noticeably higher.

“Most of the postgraduate units can be performed online, and there are online forums where students, lecturers and tutors can interact.”

Essays in her bachelor degree were generally 2000 words; at postgraduate level they’ve doubled, demonstrating depth.

Zoe’s biggest benefit thus far has been the extra detail in studying aspects of finance. As she currently has a job in the industry, the work experience links with what is being taught in the degree.

“Oftentimes it is unplanned yet welcomed that I can align my studies with a vocational task I am currently undertaking.”

Zoe also believes more dedication is required, building on a foundation of knowledge, but students are treated like adults as lecturers are more of a knowledgeable peer than a teacher.

I believe in today’s highly educated society that an undergraduate degree, although useful, does not hold the value it once did.

HJCKD: Do you believe job prospects increase dramatically with a postgraduate degree?

Katrina believes so, as the person with the higher qualification will get higher preference from employers. She already works with children, so her degree ties in with her job despite the secondary aspect.

“Teaching is my passion, which is why I continued after my bachelor degree.”

Zoe doesn’t agree to this extent, but her studies link in closely with her role and hopefully future roles at the firm.

“If an individual is willing to further their knowledge while still maintaining a high quality at work, it speaks volumes to your current and future employer.”

HJCKD: What impact do you believe fees have on the decision to continue studying?

Katrina hasn’t been deterred by fees as HECS allows the payment to be made when you reach the income threshold. But the future may not be so simple.

“I think the rise in fees may put students off as it has been highlighted greatly in recent media.”

Zoe feels lucky that she commenced her course prior to the 2014 budget. She would have thought much longer and harder if not, as you must be able to estimate a positive return on such an investment.

“That being said, if you are passionate about a field and want to expand your knowledge then I say go for it, don’t let money stand in the way of something you love.”

Both postgraduate students recommend further study if the field is enjoyed; not only does it enhance qualifications, but it also increases the value of life lessons along the way.

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton is studying a Graduate Certificate of Communication having completed a Bachelor of Communication last year, majoring in journalism and creative writing. He enjoys writing freelance and travelling abroad.

Image: Flazingo Photos, Flickr Creative Commons license