Multiple Master's degrees? - any ideas/thoughts appreciated

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star9005
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Hi all,
I'm a 3rd year undergraduate geography student at Edinburgh University, which means I have one more year left to figure out what to do after graduating. I was thinking of a gap year, so I could satisfy my enthusiasm for traveling and hopefully get some time to find out what I want to do exactly. However, my question is not whether to go for the gap year or jump straight into a Master's (there are a lot of resources on that topic).

What I haven't really found too much info about, is whether multiple postgrad degrees are something to consider or just forget about straight away. Why I'm asking this: I have a lot of ideas in my mind, namely: geography, languages (Celtic, modern Scandinavian, Old Norse, Chinese), heritage conservation/management, nationalism studies, to name a few. At least it is pretty clear that I'm a humanities person.

I have spoken to a few careers consultants at my uni, and what I've heard so far is:
- imagine where you want to be in 5 years, and adjust your postgrad degree plans accordingly
- if you just do a postgrad degree without plans for the future, you'll be in the same position as after finishing your undergrad

While I totally understand these thoughts, I was wondering: if I could achieve to secure funding for at least one postgrad degree, then would doing a second Master's be a "bad" thing if I'm just interested in more subjects? :confused:

I know there's no straightforward answer to my question, but if there are people who already went through this and can offer me some wisdom, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
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dragonkeeper999
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I'm no expert on this (just another undergrad considering something similar), but would say:

1. Doing more qualifications is rarely a negative thing - although it may cost you more money/ time.
2. It keeps open the option to go into a different career afterwards - for example you may thing you want to go into Geography, but then do a Law course to become a lawyer. In some cases (e.g. Medicine, Law) additional qualifications are required to go into the career - so if you did a different masters first you would HAVE to do a second postgraduate degree.
3. Bear in mind that getting funding for the second course may be much more challenging - look at the small print for some of the courses/ sources of funding you are considering to check.

I guess your concern is that doing two masters would suggest on your CV that you are undecisive or perhaps uncommitted to a particular career - however, I'm sure you could explain your situation should this come up at all at interview, and interviewers are human beings who understand that not everyone has their whole career planned out in their early 20s. I doubt it would really go against you - in fact, you could draw upon your more diverse knowledge to help you in your job, which can only be a good thing.

However, it's definitely worth considering the cost/ time implications - would you be better off going into a job after the first masters and working your way into the career you want? Particularly if the second masters you are considering is fairly related to the first? Are there alternative ways of learning those skills - e.g. doing an evening language class rather than a masters, which might be cheaper/ possible to balance around a job?

Perhaps you are mainly interested in this possibility not just because you are undecided about your career, but because you are someone who enjoys learning and being a student? In which case, additional studies would suit you - and you could consider doing them abroad for example to broaden your experience/ make you more employable. It is perhaps worth thinking about your main motivations for considering this route and whether it makes sense for your finances/ career/ enjoyment/ future plans.

Basically, I'm just as undecided as you so would be interested to see other's thoughts/ experiences on this...
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k3ro
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It's a tricky situation. You might want to research what kind of career you'd like to have once you're finished with uni, so you can begin working towards it. Master's degrees are expensive (especially at places that will charge you a higher rate for being an ELQ student) and, like the person above said, employers might see you as 'indecisive'. Even if you have funding for tuition fees, there's still the living/travelling/etc costs to consider.

I did an undergraduate master's degree. I graduate in July, but I'm going on to do a second master's in september. For me, it was because I wasn't really sure what job I wanted until my 3rd/4th year of uni, and so my second master's will allow me to have a bit of a career change (although thankfully my undergrad degree is still very relevant). If you're not sure what job you want, perhaps take some time out. Rushing into things isn't a good idea at this point. You could take a gap year, both for travelling and work experience? See if you can get a feel for what direction you might want to take your postgrad career in.
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QHF
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(Original post by star9005)
While I totally understand these thoughts, I was wondering: if I could achieve to secure funding for at least one postgrad degree, then would doing a second Master's be a "bad" thing if I'm just interested in more subjects? :confused:
Two masters degrees in a row might raise eyebrows a bit among potential employers -- there's some truth in the second thing your careers advisers told you, that doing postgraduate study without integrating it into a plan (even if the plan changes later) can leave you in the position of being essentially an older, poorer and weirder version of someone with just a BA. Certainly many of the people I know who have two consecutive masters degrees aren't doing particularly well career-wise, although that may be partly because a number of them are people who were chasing the largely illusory target of a career in academia and decided to reroll with a second masters when their first round of PhD applications didn't go well.

I'd also say that you should think about whether postgraduate study is absolutely necessary to give you the satisfaction and fulfilment of more learning. With a modicum of discipline it's possible to study all sorts of things just in your spare time, and if you're doing it for the love of learning you may find that many masters courses are too rushed and pragmatic for you. Masters courses are often either vocational or designed to prepare people for doctoral research, blasting you with a range of methodologies and a whistle-stop tour of a field and not really allowing much time for reflective learning.

Finally, at the moment the funding situation for masters courses in the humanities is 'a wasteland' (I'm quoting a director of graduate studies). So while there is a little money out there and you can certainly apply and see if you can get it, you'll have to be both very good and very lucky.

All that said, in the long run it's very hard to predict what qualifications are going to do for you, there might be sectors in which you could spin two masters courses as an advantage, and of course career isn't everything. Just think whatever you do through carefully, and get lots of advice from as broad a range of people as possible.
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somethingbeautiful
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I completely agree with who ever told you this:

if you just do a postgrad degree without plans for the future, you'll be in the same position as after finishing your undergrad
I personally think that doing an MA with no idea what you want to do as a career is simply sticking your head in the sand. I don't think it's a good idea unless it's somehow vocational (e.g. Archives) and even then, a 'vocational' MA does not guarantee the same job prospects as a typically 'vocational' course.
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Carnationlilyrose
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I think you will need to be realistic here. There's effectively (to all intents and purposes) no funding for non-STEM subjects - you only have to do a search on this forum to see how difficult the situation is - and you will get one shot at a Career Development Loan, which is your only alternative unless you have savings/generous relatives. I'm all for learning for the sake of it, and wish it were possible to keep on studying as long as you want to do it, but the reality is that without some source of private funding, you will have to make a choice and stick with just one until you've acquired the money to do more degrees. Be aware that the CDL repayments start a month after your course finishes, so you will need a decent income to fund the degree you've just done, and this may well preclude you from saving up enough to do a second one any time soon.
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star9005
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(Original post by dragonkeeper999)
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(Original post by k3ro)
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(Original post by QHF)
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(Original post by somethingbeautiful)
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(Original post by Carnationlilyrose)
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Thank you very much everyone!

Actually, I've just realised that in terms of Chinese, it was my initial success on my language course at university, as well as my Chinese friends, who made me want to continue with the language. But the emphasis is on the language, and not lots of other courses related to China - that's not something that I would like to commit to within a postgrad degree. A language course could work for me, and taking a language exam would be more than enough to prove language skills.

That said, I think the situation is more or less similar with Scandinavian studies - it is more the Norwegian language that is attractive to me (due to an outside course at uni, again). However, I do see myself living and working in Norway at some point, so that option might be worth exploring, and it doesn't need a postgrad degree in Scandinavian Studies either.

In terms of Celtic, I am quite interested in the broad subject, and having looked at some postgrad curricula and degree programmes, it looks like something attractive, however, I do not see myself working in that field after a hypothetical postgrad degree in this subject. I think this option is off the list, too.

It seems a bit silly not to have seen this clearer before, but at least it's better now.

It remains to figure out the rest with geography and the other degrees though. And with the gap year.

Many thanks, once again :^_^:
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Juichiro
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(Original post by star9005)
Hi all,
I'm a 3rd year undergraduate geography student at Edinburgh University, which means I have one more year left to figure out what to do after graduating. I was thinking of a gap year, so I could satisfy my enthusiasm for traveling and hopefully get some time to find out what I want to do exactly. However, my question is not whether to go for the gap year or jump straight into a Master's (there are a lot of resources on that topic).

What I haven't really found too much info about, is whether multiple postgrad degrees are something to consider or just forget about straight away. Why I'm asking this: I have a lot of ideas in my mind, namely: geography, languages (Celtic, modern Scandinavian, Old Norse, Chinese), heritage conservation/management, nationalism studies, to name a few. At least it is pretty clear that I'm a humanities person.

I have spoken to a few careers consultants at my uni, and what I've heard so far is:
- imagine where you want to be in 5 years, and adjust your postgrad degree plans accordingly
- if you just do a postgrad degree without plans for the future, you'll be in the same position as after finishing your undergrad

While I totally understand these thoughts, I was wondering: if I could achieve to secure funding for at least one postgrad degree, then would doing a second Master's be a "bad" thing if I'm just interested in more subjects? :confused:

I know there's no straightforward answer to my question, but if there are people who already went through this and can offer me some wisdom, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
1. Humanities for postgrad is fiercely competitive. How do you plan on reliably secure 9K for a masters let alone for more than one?

2. If you like learning, there are plenty of free MOOCs online? Doing a Masters if you are after learning something is a very expensive way of funding your pleasures.
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Juichiro
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Remember: when it comes to me grad jobs, experience > Masters.
You can buy a Master but you can't buy experience.
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Xin Xang
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I may be a little out of my depth here, but why can't you just use a library and read what interests you on the side, whilst focusing primarily on one subject/career ?

Just thought.
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star9005
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(Original post by Juichiro)
1. Humanities for postgrad is fiercely competitive. How do you plan on reliably secure 9K for a masters let alone for more than one?
2. If you like learning, there are plenty of free MOOCs online? Doing a Masters if you are after learning something is a very expensive way of funding your pleasures.
(Original post by Juichiro)
Remember: when it comes to me grad jobs, experience > Masters.
You can buy a Master but you can't buy experience.
Thanks a lot, yes, I actually know that funding is a problem within humanities/social sciences. I was thinking that there seems to be a much bigger and more varied offer of scholarships for PG studies than those for UG, but then, it's not that simple indeed..
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star9005
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(Original post by Xin Xang)
I may be a little out of my depth here, but why can't you just use a library and read what interests you on the side, whilst focusing primarily on one subject/career ?

Just thought.
Yes, as I'm thinking it through again and again, that is a very good point.
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theology2727
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(Original post by star9005)
Hi all,
I'm a 3rd year undergraduate geography student at Edinburgh University, which means I have one more year left to figure out what to do after graduating. I was thinking of a gap year, so I could satisfy my enthusiasm for traveling and hopefully get some time to find out what I want to do exactly. However, my question is not whether to go for the gap year or jump straight into a Master's (there are a lot of resources on that topic).

What I haven't really found too much info about, is whether multiple postgrad degrees are something to consider or just forget about straight away. Why I'm asking this: I have a lot of ideas in my mind, namely: geography, languages (Celtic, modern Scandinavian, Old Norse, Chinese), heritage conservation/management, nationalism studies, to name a few. At least it is pretty clear that I'm a humanities person.

I have spoken to a few careers consultants at my uni, and what I've heard so far is:
- imagine where you want to be in 5 years, and adjust your postgrad degree plans accordingly
- if you just do a postgrad degree without plans for the future, you'll be in the same position as after finishing your undergrad

While I totally understand these thoughts, I was wondering: if I could achieve to secure funding for at least one postgrad degree, then would doing a second Master's be a "bad" thing if I'm just interested in more subjects? :confused:

I know there's no straightforward answer to my question, but if there are people who already went through this and can offer me some wisdom, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
If you want, there are US Masters that are far more general than UK ones, such as this one at Penn: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/mla (and I know there is funding for UK students to do this, or at least was a couple of years ago!).

You could consider doing something like this, and perhaps then do a more specific Masters course after, if you are set on doing two masters courses? Or if not, this is a two year course, so you could try for one general year and customise the second to be more specific?
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scrotgrot
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Hell no, not even if you're really rich. One masters is bad enough, two really is pushing it.
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Snufkin
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Many universities offer evening language classes for undergraduate and postgraduate students, so you could do a master's in geography and learn languages on the side. UCL offers evening classes in many languages including Mandarin, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Welsh - and Old Norse may be an option too, the Old Norse teacher told me that she is prepared to let students sit in on her classes unofficially.
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star9005
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(Original post by scrotgrot)
Hell no, not even if you're really rich. One masters is bad enough, two really is pushing it.
Speaking from experience? (no sarcasm, I'm really interested)
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scrotgrot
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(Original post by star9005)
Speaking from experience? (no sarcasm, I'm really interested)
No, just naked prejudice. Though I am doing a masters myself
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hopefulscribbler
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I have two masters degrees: one MA in English Lit; one MFA in Creative Writing. I undertook all my postgrad study in the U.S. at top ten institutions and was fully funded with maintenance; without the prestige or the money, I wouldn't have done either, and both were longer (2 then 3 yrs respectively) than UK options, so I had more time to develop my ideas and process what I was learning. After accruing debt for my UK undergraduate degree, I decided I was done paying. I hope to work as both a writer and literary scholar and am moving onto a PhD in Creative Writing this autumn; without both my masters degrees and the years of undergrad teaching experience they afforded me, I feel pretty confident that given the competition for funding and university professorships, that academic career path would not be at all realistic.

In the current climate I would strongly discourage any prospective student who wishes to pay out of pocket for ONE non-vocational postgrad without a good idea of what work they would like it to do for their career. My advice would be to take some time. Travel, perhaps to the countries you've expressed an academic interest in studying, and explore your interests in a less structured environment. Building the discipline required for self-directed learning will stand you in very good stead for any postgraduate work you do in the future. It's a very good sign that you're almost done at Edinburgh and still hungry for more, but there's no need to rush, and you may need some time to debrief post-undergrad. Missteps can happen when you move too fast, and missteps can be expensive (says the one-time law school drop-out). If you take a bit of time and learn what it is about each area of study you really love, or perhaps discover new interests that eclipse older ones, you'll also begin to see where your true passions intersect, and that is the sweet spot of research, the thing that leads to originality and an enjoyable experience. Two masters degrees can indeed be a boon, but only if they are in obvious dialogue and can give you, beyond knowledge and joy, the "edge" in a competitive job market.

It's also possible you may find an employer who can help with the cost of further study, or amazing opportunities abroad that can mitigate some of the financial risk associated with postgraduate degrees. The sad fact is, unless you are independently very wealthy, it's wise to at least consider your degrees as an investment in your professional future. I think the happiest people are quite possibly those who have been able to make their (paid) education do practical work for them in some fashion, those that can connect the dots, as it were.

Really listen to and think on the advice of your careers counsellors and professors, too, even if you decide to go another route. They can be great resources. Good luck with your studies!
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Gregoire57
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you don't say how old you are but, from what you are saying, you have gone into University straight from school and have no experience whatsoever. If I am wrong then apologies. Anyway, in terms of employment prospects, everybody these days has a batchelors degree so a Masters is good currency. However, if this is not linked to work experience then you will lose out every time to experienced people with a Masters degree when you are applying for jobs, and a second Masters will not help, other than to identify you as an academic.
However, if you are keen to do another Masters degree then choose one than involves voluntary work within a specific area so that you gain work experience whilst studying. Better still, start earlier whilst you are travelling and get registered with an agency that organise supply teaching overseas. You could put your geography knowledge to good use and, even if you do not want to be a geography teacher, it will look good on your CV. The only people who are going to employ somebody with multiple degrees is a University, and then you would still need teaching skills training.
Look for jobs that encourage further study instead of doing all the study first. I am a nurse and have gained a batchelors degree and a Masters as part of my employment and these qualifications have helped me progress within my field.
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star9005
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(Original post by Gregoire57)
you don't say how old you are but, from what you are saying, you have gone into University straight from school and have no experience whatsoever. If I am wrong then apologies. Anyway, in terms of employment prospects, everybody these days has a batchelors degree so a Masters is good currency. However, if this is not linked to work experience then you will lose out every time to experienced people with a Masters degree when you are applying for jobs, and a second Masters will not help, other than to identify you as an academic.
However, if you are keen to do another Masters degree then choose one than involves voluntary work within a specific area so that you gain work experience whilst studying. Better still, start earlier whilst you are travelling and get registered with an agency that organise supply teaching overseas. You could put your geography knowledge to good use and, even if you do not want to be a geography teacher, it will look good on your CV. The only people who are going to employ somebody with multiple degrees is a University, and then you would still need teaching skills training.
Look for jobs that encourage further study instead of doing all the study first. I am a nurse and have gained a batchelors degree and a Masters as part of my employment and these qualifications have helped me progress within my field.
Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas. I will be 26 when I finish my undergrad degree. However, I do have quite a wide range of experiences, from tour leading, teaching, call centers, sales and being a travel agent to event planning and whatnot (and I haven't included societies and volunteering here)..

Of course, while many people leave university around the age of 22, they would have some time to explore different options, and in a few years, they would hopefully find a more exact career path for themselves, and even be done with a master's by the age that I will reach when graduating.. Thus, I don't have too much time to mess around, but I think a gap year could be beneficial, as I've been planning to visit quite a few places on the globe, and such travelling becomes increasingly difficult to do as the years go on

What is getting clearer to me now, is that I'll have to be quite specific about what I want to do with a postgrad degree, I can't just choose something out of curiosity.. I'll have to draw a line between hobbies and career interests, I guess.
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