Whether you are looking to pursue a graduate degree straight after university or a couple of years after being in the workforce, pursuing a masters or MBA can be a daunting decision.
It is first important to determine your Why? Why are you doing this, for whom and to what end. Being clear about your short-term and long-term goals will help you to determine if a graduate degree will further those goals and this is what you truly want for yourself. Conversely, it is not a good idea to pursue a masters just if you are unsure or uncertain about your goals, or you are using this as a stop-gap measure. It is sometimes advisable for graduates to work for a couple of years before embarking on a graduate degree. This allows you to obtain a more accurate sense of what you are passionate and interested about, any skill-sets that you lack and to be able to envision your long-term career goals more accurately.
Questions that you can think about include:
· Where do I see myself in 10 years?
· How can a graduate degree help me achieve my goals?
· What are my weaknesses or gaps in my skill set?
· How can I get to my boss’ position one day?
· Are there alternatives to boost my qualifications without pursuing a graduate degree?
Once you have ascertained that a graduate degree is what you want, there are many options as to where and what degree that you can pursue. Think about your goals and what you hope to achieve. If you would like more international exposure, perhaps going overseas is a good idea. If you like to gain more technical skills, doing research on the exact course outline and contents is a good step to take. If you would to use the degree to transition or expand your career path, the brand name of the school and strong alumni network would be another important factor.
Opportunity cost is a key factor in decision-making. The time and cost spent on pursuing a masters degree means that it is not an easy decision to make. However, these days, there are many options such as distance-learning, part-time degrees and executive MBAs if you are worried about time. Many schools and companies also offer scholarship opportunities if you are worried about cost.
It is advisable to start your preparation early. Most applications open 1 year before the next intake so you should be aware of your time frames. Other important preparatory steps getting your finances in order, getting any qualifications and pre-requisites down (e.g. examinations), and preparing your resume and personal statement (get started here). In addition, most schools require at least 2 reference letters. It is always wise to stay in contact with your mentors and to ask them in advance for these letters as these references are often important influencing factors for admission offices.
We hope that this guide helps you in your application process. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further queries.
Download a PDF Checklist below: