This tine of year is a prime time for students to think about embarking on a course of further study, most often at masters level but also at PhD level.
So with many courses internationally being taught in English - and not just in English-speaking countries - you might want to consider spreading your wings and going elsewhere for your higher degree.
As well as considering the normal things when thinking about further study - what subject, what course, what institution - there are some other things that are particularly important when thinking about studying abroad.
Firstly, the timescales for applying may be different from here and are almost certainly longer - the Fulbright Commission who advise on studying in the US have a lot of information about timelines and recommend you start in your penultimate year ideally.
You may need to sit a test - have a look at our web pages on studying abroad to get more information about the sorts of tests and how to prepare for them.
Funding may also be an issue and is one of the reasons that you may need to start early. But of course, one of the attractions of studying especially in Europe is that education fees are substantially less than here. Do check though, the duration of the course - a UK masters course will be normally 1 year but the standard in mainland Europe is 2 years.
Do also pay attention to any information you get about study styles and cohort sizes - lower fees sometimes mean larger classes and more lectures, rather than the small group seminars which are a common feature of masters courses in the UK.
For more detailed information about studying internationally, specific to individual countries, have a look at the AGCAS country profiles for studying abroad. Considerations here include how much of the host nation's language you speak, what the city you'd be based in is like, and what the common customs are that you should be aware of. You could always take advantage of our Foreign Languages Centre to brush up your languages before you start!
Applications may vary considerably - some institutions require only a CV and transcript, others want a personal statement which can be very detailed. So if you would like advice on how to put one together, or some feedback on the application you are preparing, please do come in and see us.
An article appeared in the THES last Thursday on this topic. Victoria Halman investigated how employers view the growing trend for graduates to take a second qualification, usually a Masters, to help them land a first job. It is a well researched article which is worth a read and which shows the pros and cons. The key is to find out how employers in your chosen career area would view such additional study. If you want to discuss your further study plans with someone impartial then you can arrange to talk to a Careers Adviser.
Our website also carries advice and information if you are considering a postgraduate course.
According to HEFCE, in 2011-12 there were 501,330 postgraduate students studying in institutions in England and Northern Ireland, a 50% growth in the market. These last few weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of students coming in with personal statements applying for further study. However deciding whether postgraduate study is right for you can be a bit of a minefield.
It is worth stepping back and reflecting on why you want to pursue a postgraduate qualification. Are you doing it for the love of the subject or putting off deciding on a career path? Do you love being in an academic setting or are you scared to enter the jobs market? Do you want to study at home or abroad? What do you want to do after your postgraduate study? The list of questions goes on and on. However it is important to ask yourself these questions and to spend time reflecting and researching the answers.
Some research pointers…
- Visit the University: much like the research you did when applying for your undergraduate degree, do consider visiting the university you are applying to so you can get a feel for the environment. Talk to the course tutors, administrators and current students. You may in particular want to ask them about the careers their students have gone into.
- Funding your study: explore the funding options available – are there scholarships or departmental grants that you can apply for? Is part time study an option or do you need to apply for a career development loan? Would an employer cover the costs of the qualification if it is recommended for the role?
- Do you need to? Don’t assume that a postgraduate qualification will guarantee entry into your chosen career. Do your research carefully and make sure you get the employers perspective.
- Added value: are there opportunities to gain work experience or go on a placement whilst studying for your postgraduate course? Can you gain professional accreditation?
So, what now?
If postgrad study is something you are seriously considering then I would have a look at the resources on the careers service website. Why not make an appointment to see a careers adviser for a chat too? We can help you navigate this minefield and give an honest assessment based on your personal circumstances.
This e-book from the website jobs.ac.uk has been developed to help all those who are considering undertaking a PhD. The focus is on using career decision-making approaches to assess and prepare for this rather than on the choice of research topic.
Should I do a PhD? includes interactive sections to help track your progress and further resources for additional information. It covers the following topics:
• why you want to undertake a PhD;
• opportunity awareness;
• making an informed decision;
• discovering your career decision-making style;
• pressures and expectations;
• preparing for your PhD.
Download here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/media/pdf/careers/resources/should-i-do-a-phd.pdf.
The Careers Service also has resources on it's website such as How to apply for a PhD .
PostgraduateStudentships is running two PhD funding fairs in December 2014. Please note you need to APPLY to attend and the deadline to apply is 6pm on Tuesday 2 December. There are two fairs taking place: London – 4 December and Leeds – 10 December. The fairs bring together more than 25 UK universities with specific PhD funding to offer. Students who have achieved or are expected to achieve either a 1st or a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree or a merit or distinction in their masters degree can apply to attend. The Fair is for you if:
- You are considering doing a PhD and looking for funding.
- You want to talk to and network with some of the best UK Universities that are looking for high quality PhD students
- You'd like to find out more about studying for a PhD, get some advice and talk to PhD students to understand what it's really like
For more information and to apply, visit the PostgraduateStudentships website.
Please note that PhD funding may be subject to residency requirements or other restrictions.