If you’re thinking about enrolling in a master’s degree or other post-graduate study, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices. There are a huge number of degree paths to choose from for each discipline, as well as online and on campus options to select between.
With the time, energy and financial commitment involved, it’s important to make your graduate education decision wisely. Read on for some tips you can follow to help you select the best graduate degree for your needs.
Know Your Goals and Your Why
For starters, don’t choose a degree without first knowing your specific goals, your “why.” That is, what outcomes are you looking for after you have completed the study? Are you looking to progress in your career, or is it a requirement to pursue a particular path? Are you more interested in challenging yourself and learning new things, or are you looking to network as a big part of your studies?
Whatever your reasons for enrolling in a graduate program, if you’re clear on them in advance, you will find it easier to select the best degree for your needs. Just make sure that you’re considering what you want to achieve, not what other people may be urging or encouraging you to do. Don’t choose a graduate program because you think it will look good on your resume, either; these courses are intensive and often expensive, so you need to be sure they’ll help you get where you need to go.
Take Your Time to Think, Plan and Research
Don’t rush into a decision about which degree to study. Instead, take your time to think about what you want and to plan for how you might get the work done (e.g. around work or other commitments or based on available finances to pay for credits). You also need to spend time researching your various graduate options in detail.
Investigate the courses you can choose from, and understand what each would involve and how this will fit into your goals. Discover how flexible programs are, what topics you can and can’t learn about or research and how long each degree would take you to complete. Be sure to find out if courses are accredited in the way you need them to be, too.
Furthermore, always look into each university in detail. You should choose a facility that has a good reputation, not only with past students but also with current ones. Don’t just go off what’s written on an institution’s website; also read student reviews and testimonials; check out independent websites, forums and other platforms; and if possible speak to people currently completing the course you’re interested in. Find out how students have done in their careers after finishing their studies and if they believe the course was a good stepping stone for them or not.
As you research, you’ll probably notice there’s quite a difference between degrees and campuses. For example, a master’s in mental health at one university might be worlds away from what’s offered at another, in many different ways. Some universities and specific degrees are highly-regarded nationally and internationally, which may be important to you, while some may also be renowned for the amount of practical placements they make or for the high-tech tools available to students on site.
Meet Some of the Professors and/or Supervisors
A key part of your research should involve looking into the professors and/or supervisors you would be working with if you choose a particular program. It’s always wise to meet some of these people, so you can get an idea if they are as experienced and knowledgeable as you would hope.
Be on the lookout for teachers who have practical experience in the field, a positive reputation both in the industry and with graduates, a good teaching method and manner that suits your learning style and more. You will often end up working closely with staff during a graduate degree program, so you need to be sure that the relationships will be successful.
Consider the Best Mode of Study for You
It’s also necessary, when choosing a post-graduate degree, to decide which mode of study will be best for you. These days, there are lots of online options available in addition to on-campus ones, so you don’t necessarily have to attend a campus each week to get your qualifications. In fact, for many people, online studies presents excellent benefits.
If you study online, you can continue working full-time and fit your course around other commitments. Plus, you can save time when it comes to travel. Online study is also helpful if you want to be able to work more at your own pace. Alternatively, some people prefer on-campus study because of the social opportunities it presents or because they like to see their professors face to face or make use of on-site facilities.
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