As final year approaches, it is important to start considering what you would like to do after undergrad. In a two-part series, Iona discusses aspects that need considering when deciding whether to do a masters, what masters to do and how to apply.
Deciding what to do after completing undergrad is a decision that comes about much quicker that it feels it should. Although it may seem early in the year to start thinking about masters applications, many applications are open from the start of the academic year, with some application deadlines being in the early months of the year. Hence for individuals in third year considering a masters – now it a good time to start! But what do you actually need to consider?
Is a masters for me?
Masters mean another year of education, deadlines, financial strain often and a postponement of entering ‘the real world’. There are pros and cons to them, as with many big decisions. Masters are a great choice for people who have a specific passion for a subject and would like to study it in more depth than undergrad offers, or for individuals who enjoy research and are not sure what they would like to do. Chances are, if you have chosen to read this article the thought is playing on your mind and it would be worth considering the next few steps of a masters.
Of course at this point you may not know your final grade, but it is worth thinking about what grade looks feasible for you and whether this is above or matches the masters academic requirements.
What masters options are there?
When deciding what masters to do, or if you even want to do a masters it can be worth mind mapping out what areas of your degree you have enjoyed or what subject areas you feel you haven’t had a chance to explore yet. For example, as a psychology student, I know I enjoyed the psychopathology side and as such could look up searches such as ‘psychopathology masters’ to see what options may be out there. There are so many niche masters on subjects you may not even know you were interested in so searching up something as broad as ‘psychology masters’ can be a good way to get some ideas. Just having a browse of the available Warwick Masters can be a great start. These can be found here.
After considering what area you may like to study, it is worth considering the type of masters you would like to do. Masters can be split into two categories on the whole. There are taught masters and research masters. Taught masters, where you will either study for MA or MSc, are more similar to the style of undergrad where you receive lectures, have assignments and often exams or course work the end of the year. On the other hand, research masters, where you study for an MRes are like a larger version of a dissertation where the year is spent doing a research project of your choice. Although you will be offered support and have some contact hours, it will be much more independent work.
After getting some initial ideas of what areas you would like to study, it is worth thinking of what locations are feasible for you to live in. Only unis around your home? Do you want to stay where you are currently? Is going aboard an option? From here it is worth looking up if the unis in the area you are interested in have specific courses you would like to do. If a research masters is for you, then this is a good chance see what supervisors are at each uni and what their areas of study are – do these align with your own? A masters is much shorter than an undergrad, generally only being a year and as such it is worth considering the impact moving and resettling for only a year will have on you – is this something you fancy or would continuing at the same university suit you better?
By this stage you will hopefully have an idea of what you would like to study and at what uni, with some specific courses or research areas in mind. Unlike undergrad, you can apply to as many masters programmes as you like, there is no limit, however it can be expensive to apply. The cost of application is often advertised when you start the application form. In general, masters applications range from £50-£100, with London unis costing more, with these fees being used to process applications. Bearing cost in mind, it is good to decide how many masters you want to apply for. Are they competitive masters to get a place at? Would you be happy to go to all the ones you have applied to? Similar to applying to undergrad it can be good to have a back up choice if possible.
It is also worth checking the course fees. Student loans only offer up to around £11,000 (up to date information can be found on this on the government website) for both tuition and living costs and as such other sources of funding need found. There are a number of scholarships out there which can often be found on university pages (e.g., ‘Warwick uni masters scholarships) and Warwick offer a 10% alumni discount for students who studied at Warwick for undergrad. More information on postgraduate funding and scholarships can be found here.
Otherwise, it may be considering whether it is possible to have a part-time job on your course of whether you have family members who are able to contribute towards the costs. Many masters offer the option to complete the course over two years part time which gives the opportunity to work in order to fund your masters alongside doing it. Deciding to do a masters can be a big decision so it is definitely worth thinking through. I knew a masters was right for me after to speaking to others in the career path I wanted, because I had enjoyed my undergrad so much and because I felt COVID had taken away a lot of my time as a student. The masters was something I was excited for, nervous for but also committed to get as much out of as I could. Looking back now, I am so glad I went ahead to do the masters this year. If you feel this is what you would like to do please see part two for some tips on applying to masters and the joys of applications!
If you would like some other ideas for what to do after university have a look at ‘Reflections from university and moving on’ or have a look at ‘Saying goodbye to another year’ for dealing with leaving university.
What are you thinking of doing after leaving university? What are your thoughts on doing a masters? Let us know by tweeting us @warwicklibrary, messaging us on Instagram @warwicklibrary or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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