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Consider your Motivations for Further Study | The Careers Service Consider your Motivations for Further Study – Oxford University Careers Service
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Why do further study?

There a many reasons why someone would choose to undertake further study. They are likely to be a mix of some of the following:

  • To satisfy intellectual curiosity, fuel a passion for your subject.
  • To gain expertise in a specific area, or to build evidence of experience of a sector.
  • To improve your career prospects, more on this below.
  • To gain entry to a career for which a higher degree is a (virtually) essential precursor.
  • To change direction into another discipline.
  • To enhance your skills generally.
  • To boost a weak academic record.
  • To buy some time while you make career decisions, or while the labour market refreshes.
  • To maintain a student lifestyle…

It’s worth taking some time to think beyond your basic motivation. We highlight some of the other issues you might consider below.

Will it improve your career prospects?

For some professions postgraduate qualifications are essential. For example, in the UK you are likely to need them for research and teaching posts in universities, health specialisms and legal careers.

Often a postgraduate course is just one possible route to gaining experience and entry to a sector. This is, for example, the case in journalism, museum work, environmental work, and international development.

In the UK, employers often do not demand a higher degree, and in some cases a postgraduate could be recruited to do the same job as a first-degree graduate. In many business areas employers will take you on regardless of your subject, and train you themselves or put you through the necessary professional training.

Further study will not automatically get you a better job, but it can improve your chances if the employer requires the specialism you have developed. The transferable skills gained from doing postgraduate study, carefully targeted and effectively marketed in an application, can greatly enhance job applications, but may not earn you a better starting salary.

For international careers thorough research is even more important. Different countries often have their own professional qualifications, and even within the European Union there may not be harmony. Sector-specific postgraduate qualifications gained in a particular location may only be valid for jobs in the same country. As such, it may be important to consider whether you’re likely to wish to move between countries before you begin.

Research the area you want to go into, and discuss your ideas with a Careers Adviser before embarking on a course which may not be necessary for your future career. More on this below.

How to research for yourself

Thorough research of an occupation is necessary before deciding to undertake any related study.

External Resources
This information was last updated on 10 August 2017.
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