Should you get a graduate degree without work experience?
Should you get a graduate degree immediately after getting your bachelor’s? That’s a perennial question that many fresh graduates grapple with, more so now in an uncertain job market.
While it might be useful to have work experience to make the most out of your graduate programme, not all courses require students to have work experience.
In preparation for a better economic outlook, getting a graduate degree after completing your bachelors could work in your favor. Here are some considerations to help you decide:
It’s not a golden ticket to getting a job, but…
Statistics suggest those with a postgraduate certification have higher employment rates than non-graduates. For instance, in the UK, the Department for Education notes that those with postgraduate credentials were more likely to be in high-skilled roles, in addition to earning more than undergraduates.
While the ROI for a graduate degree is there, bear in mind that masters won’t guarantee you a job upon graduation if that’s your intention for pursuing it now.
Economic downturn usually results in spikes in university enrollment as individuals look to upskill themselves to stay competitive in the job market. Prospective graduate students can see this as an opportune time to specialise in an area that is in demand by companies by looking up the qualifications needed in job postings, and even speaking to industry professionals for insights.
Will a lack of work experience act as a handicap?
Many graduate programmes have not made it mandatory for students to have work experience. Some programmes such as MBAs, however, are typically designed for individuals with work experience to better understand the curriculum.
Some fields, including the sciences, emphasise theory and classroom learning before you can apply these skills within industries and hence it may be common to see graduates in this field continuing with their graduate studies after completing their undergraduate degree.
So think thoroughly about your programme of interest and decide if you’re better off having a few years of work experience under your belt before applying, or if it makes sense to continue right after obtaining your bachelors.
What about your career goals?
It may make sense for students who harbour interests to work in academia to continue with their graduate degree after completing their bachelors. Despite that, don’t rule out the possibility that your career interests might change once you’ve had the chance to experience working in the field.
So think thoroughly about your career interests, and how a graduate degree can help you achieve your goals. Decide if it’s better to get some work experience before spending thousands on a degree. Alternatively, after completing your bachelors, you could always work for a few years before attending graduate school.
In a nutshell, a graduate degree has plenty of benefits, chief among them, lower unemployment rates and better earnings. Whether or not you should pursue a graduate degree immediately after completing your bachelors, however, largely depends on your career goals and what you hope to get out of the experience, so think it through before taking the plunge.