Applying for Postgraduate Studies, by Eleanor Cordell-Edwards (MSc student)

Applying for Postgraduate Studies, by Eleanor Cordell-Edwards (MSc student)

The end of undergraduate studies can be difficult, and when coming to the end of my BSc Psychology, I knew I was going to do a master’s but wasn’t sure what I needed to do. Based on my experience, I would recommend the following five things before applying for postgraduate programmes.

  1. Why are you going to further your studies?

When I was thinking about what to do after my undergraduate degree, continuing my studies appeared like the straightforward next step: I’d been in education for 17 years, what’s another year or two? On reflection, this wasn’t the best attitude to have. You need to know that studying further is exactly what you want to do, it isn’t something to do just for the sake of it or because you don’t know what else you would do instead. Postgraduate studies are brilliant for challenging yourself and giving you extra knowledge, but what are you going to do with your postgraduate qualification once you’ve finished?

I knew I wanted to get some experience as an assistant psychologist and that a master’s degree would help me with that, so for me, it was the right thing to do.

It is important to think about the reasoning behind your studies because if you start and decide it isn’t for you, your postgraduate bursary has to be paid back. If you then decide in the future to complete postgraduate studies, you will no longer be able to access the loan.

  1. Is this the right route for your career?

Postgraduate studies can provide you with a great boost in the job market, and give you extra standing when looking for experience, but if you know what you want to do, is this the best way to get there?

For example, you might discover that getting an entry-level job would provide you with a better experience and would point you in the right direction for studies more specific for the field you are interested in. So before you apply, do your research. Be safe by knowing exactly what you need to do for your career.

  1. Where are you going to study?

There are hundreds of postgraduate programmes out there so do your research! I knew I wanted to stay here at Royal Holloway but that didn’t mean I didn’t look at other potential courses.

Have a think about the following questions…

Does your current university offer a course that suits you?

Do you want to stay where you did your undergraduate degree or do you fancy a change?

Do you want an experience-heavy programme or a research-heavy programme?

These seem like simple questions but they are essential to ask yourself when deciding where to continue with your postgraduate studies. It’s  important to know that where you have applied is a place you can see yourself living for a year.

  1. How are you going to support yourself?

You can pay for your loan yourself or apply for postgraduate loans from Student Finance England, and both options will provide you with one lump sum. This has to cover your fees, living costs, maintenance costs and everything else under the sun.

Be sure to look into the cost of your course. Will you have to pay any extra for tuition fees? How will you support yourself at university? Will you need to find a part-time job? Can you manage a part-time job on top of studies and work experience?

For me, I know I have to work a minimum of 18 hours a week to cover living costs, bills and travel: this includes travel to and from placement!

Thinking about money isn’t the most exciting of jobs, but it’s essential you know what you are setting yourself up for.

  1. Are you ready for the commitment?

Postgraduate studies are a big jump from undergraduate studies, but I know I made the right decision.

If you feel you are confident in your answers to the previous questions, are hardworking and ready to throw yourself into the deep end, then what are you waiting for?

Get applying!