Enrolling in a postgraduate degree program is a big step. Not only do you have to consider the costs of the degree, both in terms of tuition and lost wages if you study full time, but you also have to reckon with yourself honestly to decide whether you can manage the level of commitment required to complete your studies. 

Before making an application, ensure that you have done your research. Is the course the right one for you?  Does it provide a mode of study that suits your needs? Is your decision based on future career stability, or has it been driven by an interest you have had a lifelong passion for? Look closely at the reasoning behind any of your decisions. 

In order to help you weigh your decision to apply for a master’s degree, we’ve compiled a list of the factors you should take into consideration so you can make the best choice for you.

Which college or educational institution?

When deciding on which educational institution to attend, research colleges, visit the towns where they are located, and, if possible, familiarize yourself with the campus or, better still, speak to current students.

Although the application procedure is not quite the same as for an undergraduate program, there are a few basic similarities, such as the provision of referees, a personal statement, and your record of learning.

Applications for master’s degrees are, for the most part, open all year round, so if you want to start in September, you could apply right up to until July of that same calendar year, although this would not be recommended. 

If applying for an online or distance learning course, speak to the relevant institution directly. Merrimack College Graduate admissions provide online master’s courses and have an FAQ page providing all the information you might need.

Modes of study

Consider which mode of study would best fit into your current lifestyle, not to mention, suit your budget. 

Distance Learning – independent learning off-campus using a variety of multimedia resources and with little interaction with a lecturer. 

Online or Blended Learning – varies slightly from distance learning, as you may be required to attend seminars and to be based relatively close to campus. 

Part-time – although quite often cheaper, or costs are at least spread, part-time will, of course, take longer to complete. That said, you could fit this in alongside your current job, which will make affording the course much easier. 

Five questions to ask before embarking on a master’s degree

What are my reasons for doing this? With costs running so high, it is worth questioning your motivation and ability to invest both financially and mentally.

What is the duration of the program? Masters Programs run for anything from six months to two years. The duration of your intended course would depend on school itself.

Does the program marry up with my personal goals or my career plan?     

Am I looking to future-proof my career? Or do I want to follow a lifelong passion?

Once you can answer these questions, and you feel certain in your motivations and choice of subject and school, you have no reason not to apply.


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