Why postgraduate study matters

Studying for a postgraduate degree will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.

Introduction from the Vice-Chancellor

"Postgraduate education matters now more than ever. The contribution of postgraduates to the global economy cannot be overstated; they form the high-level skills base and knowledge economy that we need to invest in if we are to safeguard our financial, scientific, and intellectual futures.

The contribution to the individual is even more profound. As well as the economic benefits – people with a postgraduate qualification can expect to earn £5,000 more a year on average (or £200,000 over a 40-year working life*) than someone only holding a Bachelors degree – a postgraduate degree can open a world of other opportunities.

From specific careers that require specialist training – be that in engineering, education, academia, or healthcare – to highly competitive industries and businesses where an extra level of expertise can give you the edge, and, especially, to the joy of learning, discovering, and understanding a subject you feel passionate about to the very deepest level, you will find that a postgraduate qualification will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.

I come from a working class background, and was told that ‘people like you don’t go to university.’ But I was lucky enough to have a teacher who gave me the confidence to succeed, and I was the first person in my family to go to university. That experience, for me, has fired a life-long focus on access to education. University is about achieving potential, not simply a reward for where you were born in life. We need to invest, both intellectually and financially, in the people who are generating new knowledge and teaching future generations, and the key way to do that is through postgraduate education."

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

* According to research undertaken by the Sutton Trust, 2013.

Why do a postgraduate degree?

There are as many reasons for doing a postgraduate degree as there are people studying and researching for them, but these seem to be the most common motivations.

Earn more

People with a postgraduate qualification can expect to earn £5,000 more a year on average, or £200,000 over a 40-year working life, according to research undertaken by the Sutton Trust in 2013, compared to people who only have a Bachelor's degree.

The longitudinal DLHE survey also shows median salaries of around £30,000 for postgraduates compared to £24,000 for those with only an undergraduate degree*.

Stand out in the jobs market

A postgraduate qualification can make you stand out in the post-economic crisis jobs market, especially in highly competitive industries and businesses where an extra level of expertise can give you the edge. Postgraduates are more likely to be employed within six months of graduating than undergraduates.

Enter a specific career

Some specific careers require an additional level of specialist training and expertise over and above an undergraduate degree; for instance engineering, education, healthcare and psychology, conservation, human resources, translation, and development. We offer a number of programmes tailored specifically to giving you entrance to these vocations.

Pathway to academia

If you want to have an academic career as a researcher or lecturer, you'll need to continue studying, and almost certainly to PhD level. A Masters degree is a pre-requisite for many PhD degrees, particularly in the social science and humanities.

Continue studying the subject you love

But perhaps the best reason to do a postgraduate degree is one that doesn’t get talked about that often in tough economic times, and that’s the fact that a Masters or a PhD can help you explore a subject you love in a level of detail and intellectual involvement that you simply can’t get from anything else. A postgraduate degree is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in your interest and come out with a well-respected qualification at the end.

* Postgraduate Education in England and Northern Ireland, Overview Report 2013, HEFCE