If you do your Master's right after your Bachelor's - you're doing it wrong Watch

GenialGermanGent
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It seems a lot of students start a Master's program right after they finish their Bachelor's. This is not how both degrees were designed, and ultimately you are not helping your personal development and your career by this seemingly time-efficient and straight-forward move.

This is why you should work for a few years before beginning your Master's degree:

  • Real-world work experience will give you the chance to apply what you have learned in your Bachelor's degree and to identify any gaps in your knowledge which you want to fill in your postgraduate degree.
  • You will get a lot more out of a Master's degree having worked previously, as you can put everything you'll learn into perspective, relate it to real-world problems, and thereby achieve a much more useful and rewarding learning
    experience
  • Doing your Master's after having worked for a few years provides the great opportunity to 'fine-tune' your qualifications. Working for some time in your chosen field might make you realise that it is not right for you. You will also have gotten in contact with other professionals and learned about their jobs which you might find appealing. Complementing your specialised Bachelor's degree with a generalist Master's (or vice versa) then allows you to give your career a new direction and work in the field you really want to be in - something you could have never done without the work experience.
  • Academic standards are often higher on postgraduate degrees, requiring self-discipline and personal maturity from the student. Having worked (and being a few years older), you will be a much more professional, efficient, and - ultimately - successful postgraduate student.
  • Working for a few years will allow you to pay back some student loans or save up for your Master's. You will have a lower loan balance and pay less interest. Factoring in the improved career progression after working and completing your Master's, there is a strong financial case for this model.


The only reasons which speak for skipping the break relate to peoples' ignorance and laziness:

  • Many students do not want to go back to university once they have found a job after graduating. While this is understandable initially, there are very good reasons to pursue further education after 2-3 years of having worked (see above). People also seem to disregard that they will be in a very strong position for finding a better job once they completed their Master's AND having work experience under their belt, which will ultimately make for better career progression.
  • Some students bring forward the point that they are 'in the flow' after their Bachelor's and that they wouldn't mind going straight into a Master's, as it's only one/two additional years. I would like to counter this with the fact that it is quite healthy academically and personally to take a little break from academia and come back a few years later. Let me tell you from experience: you will be very glad to go back to the student life with relatively little pressure and lots of leisure time. Also, you will actually be hungry to learn and study again and really enjoy the experience.
  • The 'excuse' to go straight to a Master's because one 'cannot get a job without a Master's' does not really count. If you did well on your Bachelor's, did some internships, have extracurricular activities and achievements on your CV and manage to sell yourself decently in interviews, you should have no problems finding a job. And if it doesn't work out in the UK, think about going abroad. Be flexible!


So, kids: Doing your Master's right after your Bachelor's is stupid. Don't do it. Be smart.
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Nathanielle
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Ahem, especially going abroad will force most undergraduates to think about doing a Master. In e.g. Germany a Chemistry bachlor might end up as lab assistant, a job you could do after an apprenticeship. So don't generalize, but state about what subjects you are talking. You can't compare business studies and engineering concerning the opportunities after a Bachelor degree. Bachelors have also often other careers paths as Masters, so the idea of just interrupt you studies longer than one year/internship don't work for certain profession, as you need a lot of luck to get in and getting out with family isn't a smart move in most cases.

Just to contradict some of your points and prevent naive undergraduates to take that as generalization.
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Nathanielle)
Just to contradict some of your points and prevent naive undergraduates to take that as generalization.
Yeah, just that you don't make a lot of sense...

I am talking about all fields of study. Working before doing your Master's always helps.

Even if that Chemistry Bachelor does work as a lab assistant for a few years, she will be better off after her Master's than if she had went straight to it.

Obviously I am talking about people who want to do a Master's eventually, so it's pointless to speak about different career paths. A Master's graduate, who worked before doing his postgrad degree, will have the same or a better career path.

As to the 'luck' you need: as I said, you will be higher qualified afterwards, so you'll actually have it easier to find a job again. Often you can even work our a contract with your employer that you can return to your job once you have your Master's - or a better one in the same company. And students who already have family is surely rather the exception than the rule.
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Politics Student
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Ok I will take the bait...

(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
It seems a lot of students start a Master's program right after they finish their Bachelor's. This is not how both degrees were designed, and ultimately you are not helping your personal development and your career by this seemingly time-efficient and straight-forward move.
I have no idea what you are going on about here? Career? I cannot even get a shelf stacking job after my degree why would I wait to do an MSc?

This is why you should work for a few years before beginning your Master's degree:
Hi this is a message from the current economic climate just to remind you that youth unemployment is at 21.5%. Good luck finding any type of job...

[LIST][*]Real-world work experience will give you the chance to apply what you have learned in your Bachelor's degree and to identify any gaps in your knowledge which you want to fill in your postgraduate degree.
Again I have to ask what the hell are you talking about? Real world experience? Gosh I just want to write my MSc dissertation on the politics of shelf stacking... :rolleyes:

I left my degree with full knowledge on what I wanted to study at MSc and some idea of the direction I wanted to go onto PhD research.

How is a couple of years admin work or shelf stacking going to help me realise that when I was fully aware of my research interests while studying my degree?

[*]You will get a lot more out of a Master's degree having worked previously, as you can put everything you'll learn into perspective, relate it to real-world problems, and thereby achieve a much more useful and rewarding learning
experience
The real world problems of shelf stacking! WOO!

O wait I still have no idea what you are talking about. I don't know about you but if you have a research interest then you normally keep up to date that research area and current affairs surrounding it.

Again I ask why wait?

[*]Doing your Master's after having worked for a few years provides the great opportunity to 'fine-tune' your qualifications. Working for some time in your chosen field might make you realise that it is not right for you. You will also have gotten in contact with other professionals and learned about their jobs which you might find appealing. Complementing your specialised Bachelor's degree with a generalist Master's (or vice versa) then allows you to give your career a new direction and work in the field you really want to be in - something you could have never done without the work experience.
Work in my chosen field? What is this fantasy land that you live in? Getting a job (any job) is difficult at the moment and finding one in my chosen area is extremely difficult (if possible depending on location).

So only do a masters if it directly links to your career? :confused:

Why?

[*]Academic standards are often higher on postgraduate degrees, requiring self-discipline and personal maturity from the student. Having worked (and being a few years older), you will be a much more professional, efficient, and - ultimately - successful postgraduate student.
I'm sorry but that is just pure bull****. Academic standards are higher, but taking time out of study will not improve them. You improve with regular practice and if you take a few years out then you are more likely to be rusty with your academic standards.

How does waiting help at all?

All this seems based upon getting some dream job in a career path that you want.

[*]Working for a few years will allow you to pay back some student loans or save up for your Master's. You will have a lower loan balance and pay less interest. Factoring in the improved career progression after working and completing your Master's, there is a strong financial case for this model.
Firstly, the student loan really does not matter. I honestly don't care if I never pay it off.

Secondly, those who cannot afford the masters will have to wait.

Thirdly, what improved career progress? Just getting entry positions in the chosen career area can be extremely difficult.



The only reasons which speak for skipping the break relate to peoples' ignorance and laziness:
So those who wish to continue studying are ignorant and lazy now? I mean you have given some awful advice so far but this comment is just down right stupid.

[*]Many students do not want to go back to university once they have found a job after graduating. While this is understandable initially, there are very good reasons to pursue further education after 2-3 years of having worked (see above). People also seem to disregard that they will be in a very strong position for finding a better job once they completed their Master's AND having work experience under their belt, which will ultimately make for better career progression.
Yes completing a masters degree opens more doors. I however, fail to see the need to take a few years out to work when you can easily work after the degree. So how does it make for greater career progression when you can easily get the work experience before or after?
[*]Some students bring forward the point that they are 'in the flow' after their Bachelor's and that they wouldn't mind going straight into a Master's, as it's only one/two additional years. I would like to counter this with the fact that it is quite healthy academically and personally to take a little break from academia and come back a few years later. Let me tell you from experience: you will be very glad to go back to the student life with relatively little pressure and lots of leisure time. Also, you will actually be hungry to learn and study again and really enjoy the experience.
If you know what you want to continue onto there is no point taking an enforced break.

You have not completed an MA/MSc have you? 'lots of leisure time' and 'little pressure'

You have absolutely no idea what you are taking about if you are going to make such daft comments.

[*]The 'excuse' to go straight to a Master's because one 'cannot get a job without a Master's' does not really count. If you did well on your Bachelor's, did some internships, have extracurricular activities and achievements on your CV and manage to sell yourself decently in interviews, you should have no problems finding a job. And if it doesn't work out in the UK, think about going abroad. Be flexible!
The masters opens doors and helps with applying for admin/office roles.

Finding a job in the currently economic climate is very difficult and an awful experience to go through.

You are so out of touch. Yeah we can all just move abroad right? We should all be able to easily get jobs in our chosen field right?


So, kids: Doing your Master's right after your Bachelor's is stupid. Don't do it. Be smart.
This is some of the worst advice I have ever seen on this forum.
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Nathanielle
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(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
Even if that Chemistry Bachelor does work as a lab assistant for a few years, she will be better off after her Master's than if she had went straight to it.
No, that Bachelor would have simply wasted time and would have lost money, as the salry of a lab assistant is lower than the one of a -usually Chemist with a PHD-which the lab assistant is working for. It is really difficult for that Lab assistant to get the same work as the PHD to try out, which topic he likes most.

(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
Obviously I am talking about people who want to do a Master's eventually, so it's pointless to speak about different career paths. A Master's graduate, who worked before doing his postgrad degree, will have the same or a better career path.
No, it isn't, because when you want to do something, which requires a strong e.g. mathematical ability in connection with knowlegde, you won't get into that field. Companies don't want to train a Bachelor, as a Master already need to be trained. So for some degreees, leaving with Bachelor already determines, that you won't do some stuff and thus also can't get experience in that stuff.

(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
And students who already have family is surely rather the exception than the rule.
Hm, you need some time to settle down in your field and especially women can't wait years, after your Master you also need time, so, NO, when you want family and aren't single, getting children is nothing you should wait too long. Mature students getting back for Masters after some years of getting resonable experience are thus probably not the rule, and when, then I actually really have a point, because then you could also say: Obviously the ones with family don't get back for doing a Master.
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Klix88
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(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
It seems a lot of students start a you will be very glad to go back to the student life with relatively little pressure and lots of leisure time.
If that was your experience of a Masters, I can assure you that you were the one doing it wrong. Sounds like you were pretty lazy.

Not only have I done a BA and MA one after the other, I'm now about to go straight into an MPhil and hopefully a PhD after that. I had no previous knowledge of my field before 2008 but I'm already published in it. Sue me.
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poohat
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Its good you put effort into your post but I disagree.

1) its incorrect to say that Masters courses were designed to be taken several years after undergraduate. Until recently the best option was to do a combined 4 year combined undergraduate+masters course, such as an MSci. However the recent changes in tuition fees make this slightly less appealing since the final MSci year now costs the same as a MSc, which makes it sensible to look around, assuming you can afford to pay upfront.

2) Getting a good private sector job or a PhD offer is strongly influenced by the quality of university you attended. If you have good undergraduate grades then it often makes sense to try and go somewhere more prestigious for your masters. Someone who (eg) has a first from any reasonable university has a decent shot at getting into somewhere like Oxbridge/LSE/Imperial/etc for their masters, and this often makes more sense than working first (under the assumption you are less likely to be accepted to top grad schemes/PhDs/etc).

3) If you want to do a PhD then working first and having a few years of private sector experience will not typically help your application. There may be advantages from working since it makes your CV slightly stronger if you want to go into a private sector job after your PhD, but from the academia side of things it adds very little.

4) You seem to be under the assumption that a Masters is a purely vocational qualification, since you repeatedly talk about how you should tailor it around gaining career skills. This is not the case; the content of most Masters programs are not directly relevant to most industry jobs, and people often study for Masters degrees because they enjoy the subject and want to learn more.
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Starfruit
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I get the impression here that you're trying to share your personal experience and recommend it to others. Fair enough, but you phrased it very aggressively, so people won't necessarily accept your point of view as readily as they might have done had you argued more along the lines of 'look at this great experience of mine! I'd recommend it to anyone!' You seemed to be defensive before you'd had any criticism... that's really off-putting, for me at least.
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Craghyrax
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:yawn:
Troll thread.
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Ghost6
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I don't buy the maturity argument. Many people attend graduate school straight out of undergraduate and do very, very well without the "real world" experience you describe. Your advice is only valid for degrees such as MBA's, LLM's and the like, which often require professional experience. Otherwise you can just do away with the master's altogether.
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Starfruit)
...you phrased it very aggressively, so people won't necessarily accept your point of view...
That's the fun part about posting on TSR, no?

I had the conviction that this is the right way to do it long before I started my Bachelor's and I followed through on it. It's not a concept I came across by accident and now want to share as 'a good experience I made'.
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Ghost6)
I don't buy the maturity argument. Many people attend graduate school straight out of undergraduate and do very, very well without the "real world" experience you describe.
Point taken. But imagine how well they could do WITH that valuable, practical real-world experience. That's right, even better. British students are way too young when they graduate from their Bachelor's anyway, so they're well-advised to work for a little before going back to school.
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Drewski
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So all those universities that offer Masters courses straight off the bat got it wrong. I'm sure they'll be thrilled you pointed it out.



As for 'management consultant'... I'm sure you're good at your job, but all I ever see of management consultants are people coming in with ideas, ballsing everything up, and waiting for someone with a job history in the armed forces to do it right.
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flying plum
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All the jobs I had required a masters degree...so was pretty lucky I did one straight after. Not that I researched the job requirements of my desired field or anything....
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Politics Student)
Ok I will take the bait...
Strike!

(Original post by Politics Student)
I have no idea what you are going on about here? Career? I cannot even get a shelf stacking job after my degree why would I wait to do an MSc?
It seems you made a terrible degree choice then. Apart from this regrettable circumstance, you should be able to get a decent job somewhere in the developed world if you fulfil the criteria I outlined.

(Original post by Politics Student)
Hi this is a message from the current economic climate just to remind you that youth unemployment is at 21.5%. Good luck finding any type of job...
Not everywhere. My country is doing just fine. Shame you didn't learn a second language in school.

(Original post by Politics Student)
Again I have to ask what the hell are you talking about? Real world experience? Gosh I just want to write my MSc dissertation on the politics of shelf stacking... :rolleyes:

I left my degree with full knowledge on what I wanted to study at MSc and some idea of the direction I wanted to go onto PhD research.

How is a couple of years admin work or shelf stacking going to help me realise that when I was fully aware of my research interests while studying my degree?
Once you get older, you realise what you really want to do. I cannot take a 19 or 20 year old seriously when he says he is set on his 'research interests'. Provided you do get a decent job in your field (which should be possible, as I explained), you WILL be able to make a more informed and long term-oriented choice of postgraduate degree.

You keep going on about shelf-stacking - if that really is the best job you can get, I don't really have much more to say to you. I cannot relate to that.


(Original post by Politics Student)
I'm sorry but that is just pure bull****. Academic standards are higher, but taking time out of study will not improve them. You improve with regular practice and if you take a few years out then you are more likely to be rusty with your academic standards.
Nonsense. Academic work is not like a manual skill, which you need to practise over and over to master it. The 'rules of the trade' are easy to learn, but what is really difficult, is thinking outside of the box and really get to the bottom of things. And this gets easier with age, experience, and intellectual stimulation (which you will have in a challenging job).

(Original post by Politics Student)
Firstly, the student loan really does not matter. I honestly don't care if I never pay it off.
That's a terrible attitude.

(Original post by Politics Student)
Secondly, those who cannot afford the masters will have to wait.
I am sure LOTS of people who do their Master's right after their Bachelor's cannot afford it - but they do it because they don't know better or are scared to face the potentially tough challenge to find a job.


(Original post by Politics Student)
Thirdly, what improved career progress? Just getting entry positions in the chosen career area can be extremely difficult.
Jeez, I already explained this. And no, if you're good, you will find a job - both with only a Bachelor's and a Bachelor's, work-experience, and a Master's.

(Original post by Politics Student)
So those who wish to continue studying are ignorant and lazy now? I mean you have given some awful advice so far but this comment is just down right stupid.
Nope, I am all for further education. Just with a little break in between. Not that hard to understand, is it?

(Original post by Politics Student)
Yes completing a masters degree opens more doors. I however, fail to see the need to take a few years out to work when you can easily work after the degree. So how does it make for greater career progression when you can easily get the work experience before or after?
Ugh, just read my initial post again. Because you will get MUCH more out of your Master's if you have worked beforehand. So, in sum, you are better qualified.

(Original post by Politics Student)
If you know what you want to continue onto there is no point taking an enforced break.
Yes there is. Because you cannot really make informed decisions at 19/20 and without any real-world work experience.

(Original post by Politics Student)
You have not completed an MA/MSc have you? 'lots of leisure time' and 'little pressure'
Sure I have. With distinction. Top of my year. Mind I said 'comparatively' little pressure and plenty of leisure time - if you think uni is tough, just wait until you have worked in a highly competitive job.

(Original post by Politics Student)
You are so out of touch. Yeah we can all just move abroad right? We should all be able to easily get jobs in our chosen field right?
No, but maybe I just tried harder and therefore succeeded.
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Hylean
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What if our chosen field is academia? Then waiting around isn't going to help anyone and it's not like you can get a job in it without having done a PhD for the most part. :p:

Otherwise, I can see there being an argument for this with very specific fields, but for the most part, I'd be inclined to disagree. Working in a bar, and getting reasonably high up the ladder, for a year did not really prepare me for a masters in Folkloristics.
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Drewski)
So all those universities that offer Masters courses straight off the bat got it wrong. I'm sure they'll be thrilled you pointed it out.
Universities in the UK and the US are money making machines. They'll offer everything to all audiences to get the tuition fees. However, I have yet to hear of a Master's degree which is explicitly designed to be done right after a Bachelor's (combined and specialist degrees aside). I'd say most universities just want to keep their options open and don't mention the topic. At the university I did my Master's though, all professors were extremely pleased to have students with work experience on the course.

(Original post by Drewski)
As for 'management consultant'... I'm sure you're good at your job, but all I ever see of management consultants are people coming in with ideas, ballsing everything up, and waiting for someone with a job history in the armed forces to do it right.
Haha, nice one.
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GenialGermanGent
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(Original post by Hylean)
What if our chosen field is academia? Then waiting around isn't going to help anyone and it's not like you can get a job in it without having done a PhD for the most part. :p:
Touché. However, one could argue that working as a research or teaching assistant between degrees might be considered valuable.

(Original post by Hylean)
Working in a bar, and getting reasonably high up the ladder, for a year did not really prepare me for a masters in Folkloristics.
You took up the wrong job then, I am sorry to say. By 'working for two or three years between degrees' I did not mean taking up jobs who pay the bills and make the time go by faster; I meant real jobs in your chosen field who give you practical experience and insight.
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Hylean
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(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
Touché. However, one could argue that working as a research or teaching assistant between degrees might be considered valuable.
Perhaps for certain fields, but not every university or department can afford to shell out for research assistants or teaching assistants.


(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
You took up the wrong job then, I am sorry to say. By 'working for two or three years between degrees' I did not mean taking up jobs who pay the bills and make the time go by faster; I meant real jobs in your chosen field who give you practical experience and insight.
True, but then there's not always a relevant job available and I had bills to pay. :dontknow: And in the end, those relevant jobs are more likely to be taken by people with masters in said field than by someone without.

Like I said, there is a logic for certain disciplines, jobs, etc. for your way, but it's not always the best.
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Drewski
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(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
Haha, nice one.
Laugh all you want, it's the truth. Admittedly, it's more likely to be the truth of people with purely the academic side of the consultancy under their belt...

(Original post by TitanicTeutonicPhil)
Touché. However, one could argue that working as a research or teaching assistant between degrees might be considered valuable.
You took up the wrong job then, I am sorry to say. By 'working for two or three years between degrees' I did not mean taking up jobs who pay the bills and make the time go by faster; I meant real jobs in your chosen field who give you practical experience and insight.
It's all well and good saying that, a solid theory that definitely makes sense, but finding and getting those jobs is by no means easy and most won't manage it - the number of openings simply don't exist. What then?
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