Postgraduate Study… What’s It All About?

Posted October 10, 2017, by Jenny Sakr

If you are just finishing your undergraduate degree and are itching to get out into the workforce, another year or two of study may be the last thing you feel like contemplating.

Or, if you’ve already entered the workforce, you may feel deterred from undertaking postgraduate study because of the sacrifices of time, income and lifestyle involved.
Don’t delay your decision anymore, it’s time to lay out all things postgrad study on the table!

First things first, get to know the postgrad qualifications that are available to you… 

  • Graduate Certificate/Diploma:
    There is not a great difference between a postgraduate certificate and a postgraduate diploma; most certificates are just shorter in length. These qualifications develop vocational skills and expand existing knowledge in a particular field gained from an undergraduate degree. A certificate generally requires six months full-time study and a diploma is 12 months full-time. 
  • Masters:
    A masters degree offers a high-order overview of a field of study and usually takes two years of full-time study to complete. They can comprise of coursework, project work and/or research. 
  • PhD:
    A doctoral research degree is the highest level of degree a student can achieve. It allows them to go into detailed investigation to uncover new information, data and theories in a specialised area. The average time to complete a doctoral degree is four years. 

There is a clear association between level of education and employment, as well as salary. With job roles becoming increasingly complex, higher levels of skills and qualifications are needed, especially if job candidates are seeking a competitive edge over those with undergraduate qualifications.

Improving employment and salary prospects is not the only reason to pursue further study. People also undertake postgraduate study to specialise after doing a more generalist undergraduate degree, to gain professional registration, and to increase their depth of knowledge and expertise in their chosen field – so they can go on to do high-level work that is stimulating, challenging, and ultimately more rewarding. 

Postgraduate study is particularly accessible now that many universities offer their courses by distance and online, as well as part-time, so you can study from the convenience of your own home, at your own pace and around your other work and family commitments.

Some employers will support their employees to undertake postgraduate studies by allowing flexibility with working hours and even, in some cases, offering financial aid.

It is also worth investigating postgraduate scholarships from the educational institution where you wish to study.

Undertaking postgrad study is a big commitment. Here are some things you may want to think about: 

Is it Required in Your Field?

Before diving into a postgrad head first, find out if higher qualifications are needed for the type of job you aspire to. It’s important to do your research, talk to people in the field and find out what courses they’ve done.

In some industries, postgraduate qualifications are almost a necessity. For example, a Master of Accounting is required to become a Certified Practising Accountant of Australia (CPA Australia). Postgraduate qualifications are also highly favoured in industries such as engineering, education, health and science, and finance

For business students, postgrad qualifications may not be a prerequisite to getting a job, but you may find they will help you get jobs at a higher level. You might want to consider something like an MBA, which can be really valuable.

How Much Will You Be Up For?

Postgrad study doesn’t come cheap. Consider how you’ll finance your additional studies and whether or not the return on investment will pay off.

The average price of a postgraduate masters degree ranges from $20,000-$37,000 per year and from $14,000-$37,000 per year for a doctoral degree. 

Assess your financial situation, think of this an investment in your future that could open up new opportunities, and remember that you may be eligible for FEE-HELP

Will It Pay Off?

There is a clear association between level of education and employment, as well as salary. With job roles becoming increasingly complex, higher levels of skills and qualifications are needed, especially if job candidates are seeking a competitive edge over those with undergraduate qualifications.

Plus, it's a great opportunity to network! While doing your postgrad studies, you will probably also make some great professional and personal contacts along the way, with like-minded people who are all equally ambitious and passionate about what they do.

Do You Have Work Experience? 

Keep in mind that it's important to maintain a balance between study and practical work experience to maximise your opportunities.

Don’t risk becoming too academically qualified without the relevant commercial acumen and experience. Former Director of Hays Recruitment, Graham Doyle, tells that those who complete their postgraduate studies assuming they’ll be able to easily walk into better and higher paying jobs can be in for a surprise if they have no practical work experience.

“I think for most people a postgrad degree is an investment that they will have to make at some point in their careers. My advice would be to not wait too long to pursue one – from my observations, the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to really focus and benefit from it. I would also suggest that people think very hard about the program they choose – definitely try to get into the very best program you can. A poor-quality program won’t reflect well on you and your investment of time and money is better made with a program that is high-quality and of high repute.” – Former Facebook MD, Stephen Scheeler 

Take your time and thoroughly investigate your options. At the end of the day it will depend on what type of undergraduate studies you have completed, the postgrad courses you’re looking at and, most importantly, what you are hoping to achieve. Some jobs require you to have a postgraduate qualification, while for others, employment experience will be more important.

Still not sure if postgrad study is the way for you? Ask yourself the following questions: will this degree help really me achieve my personal or career goals? Can I afford this investment? Are there alternatives? If you’ve answered ‘no’ to more than one of these propositions, then there’s a good chance that postgrad isn’t for you.

If you’ve answered ‘yes’, however, then hop to it, and start browsing our range of postgrad qualifications now! 


Jenny Sakr
Jenny Sakr

Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.

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