When is the Right Time to Take Up Postgraduate Studies?

Did you graduate from university recently?

Maybe you have and are already in your first job. Or perhaps you have yet to complete your final years of studies.

Whichever the case, you probably haven’t given any long-term thought to continuing with postgraduate studies. Well, you should! There are multiple reasons why you should give some honest consideration to furthering your education even if you are still in the process of getting your bachelor’s degree, or have just landed your first dream job.

The following sections will delve into some of these reasons and discuss some other reasons you shouldn’t commit to postgraduate education, as well as the best time to further your studies past a bachelor’s degree.

3 Reasons Why You Should Take Up Postgraduate Studies

Having a bachelor’s degree is quite an accomplishment and is the first step in launching your career. However, it is only the first step and could be inadequate depending on your career goals.

If garnering a high salary right from the start is one of your primary goals, consider that the average salary for Singaporean postgraduate program alumni is around $5,000 per month. In comparison, Singaporean fresh graduates command around $3,600 per month.

So if earning a high salary right after you graduate is a major priority for you, know that you can expect around a 29 percent increase in your base salary if you have a master’s degree.

Of course, earning a higher salary may not be the most important thing for you right now and so continuing with postgraduate studies just to make more money may not be so enticing. In this case, here are three more important reasons to consider postgraduate studies early in your career:

1) The Leapfrog Effect

If you begin your career right after graduating, you are more than likely going to end up starting at an entry-level position.

One of the main problems with this is that you may get stuck in that position for quite some time, meaning your career may not truly take off until after you have worked several years gaining experience that you may not need. Even if you didn’t mind starting at an entry-level position, the truth of the matter is that it will be tough to get one these days as the recent pandemic has cut down the total number of jobs available in Singapore.

Needless to say, you have to stand out as the competition for available jobs in Singapore has drastically increased. Obtaining a graduate’s degree is a great advantage in this regard. It gives you more credibility than other job applicants, and can even help you obtain a higher position than you would typically get as a fresh graduate with a standard bachelor’s degree.

Graduates with a master’s degree often get a chance to start at a more desirable position and thus ‘leapfrog’ the standard entry-level positions delegated to graduates with a bachelor’s degree.

Some of the most prominent and highest-paying jobs in Singapore, such as Head of Enterprise Architecture and Finance Director, require a master’s degree. If you want to start a career instead of just getting a job after you graduate, consider going those extra couple of years and getting your master’s.

2) Developing Career-Focused Skills

Fresh graduates are sometimes offered lower-paying, less-desirable entry-level jobs because employers don’t believe they have enough skills yet. Graduate school gives you those skills that go beyond book knowledge and make you more employable.

The truth is that university students who go for postgraduate studies obtain a high degree of soft skills that employers, especially in Singapore, are looking for.

Some of these include:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Technical Competency

Aside from these hard to assess skills, graduate studies give you specialized knowledge that you need to advance along your chosen career path.

A master’s degree program is designed to focus on a specific area of interest and provide in-depth knowledge.

Such specialized skills will help you stand out amongst your competition and give you a better chance of getting that job you always dreamed of.

This is not a theory either. The UK Commission of Employment and Skills stated that around 15 percent of all jobs in 2020 required a postgraduate degree, which is roughly one out of every seven job positions.

3) Growing Your Network

You have probably heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Well that isn’t entirely true, it does hold some credence when it comes to advancing your career.

Networking is responsible for filling 85 percent of all jobs.

Everyone you meet during your postgraduate studies like your professors, thesis advisors, classmates, and study group members are part of your network and can offer a pathway towards employment opportunities before and after you graduate.

Aside from the regular networking circle you will form during your postgraduate studies, you will also get the chance to work with accomplished professionals and the brightest minds in your chosen field through postgraduate fellowships and internships.

Such opportunities will provide you with even more hands-on skills and knowledge to boost your resume and make you more attractive to employers.

Considering that 70 percent of all jobs are not publicly posted and are filled through personal and professional connections, it stands to reason that any opportunity to increase your professional network should be grasped. Obtaining a postgraduate degree is an excellent avenue in which to do so.

3 Reasons Not to Take Up Postgraduate Studies

While a master’s degree can be a great tool for advancing your dream career, there are some instances where furthering your education can become a setback instead of a benefit.

The following are three such examples of when you don’t want to opt for postgraduate studies:

1) Wanting to delay entering the workforce

Working in an office can be tedious and time-consuming.

In other words, it reduces the ‘free time’ you enjoyed when you were going for your undergrad degree.

On average, the Singapore work culture demands 40-45 hours per week.

Obtaining your master’s degree is not going to save you from work. It is a serious commitment that requires time, focus, and determination.

To put it simply, if you are not adult enough to work, then you are not adult enough for postgraduate studies.

2) Not knowing which field you want to enter (choosing a career path)

Graduate programs are not meant for figuring out what career path to follow. That should have been done during your undergrad years.

A master’s program is designed to gain specific expertise in a specific field. So, if you aren’t sure what field you want to pursue, you aren’t going to maximise a master’s degree to full use.

Know what you want to do with your life before going for postgraduate studies.

3) Wanting to become a professor

Wanting to lead a life in academia should not be the main reason you opt for postgraduate studies.

It is often best to venture out into the world and see if there are other opportunities you may like better than committing yourself to university life forever.

You don’t want to end up like those professors who spend so many years in academia that they never get the work experience they need to change career paths later on in life when they want to do so.

When Should You Start?

If you are convinced now that postgraduate studies are for you, the next logical step would be to choose when to begin the application process.

However, it is important to time the enrollment process with your own unique set of circumstances and requirements.

If you are eager to get your master’s degree, and time and money allow you to do so, then applying for postgraduate studies right after getting your bachelor’s is ideal.

If you don’t already know what field you want to commit to, you should probably take a year or two off to work and explore other areas you may be interested in. That way, you can choose a master’s degree that will coincide with your chosen career.

Other personal actors like family and money should also be considered before making a final decision.

Ultimately, the best time to opt for postgraduate studies is when it makes sense for you to do so. We wish you all the best in your decision-making!

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