Types of Postgraduate Degrees

Postgraduate degrees build on the knowledge obtained in undergraduate degrees, providing you with the opportunity to become an expert on a topic and have more experience in autonomous research.

Before submitting an application for postgraduate study, it is good to get an idea of what to anticipate.

Postgraduate Degrees at universities typically work towards a master’s or PhD qualification, and come with a heavy workload; this implies that they will not be suitable for everyone, and students need a lot of devotion towards their selected program.

The differences between undergraduate and postgraduate degrees

  • Knowledge: with postgraduate degrees you will have to acquire a deeper comprehension of complex topics in a shorter period
  • Independent working: you will be researching and studying by yourself a lot more than you were doing at undergraduate level
  • Workload: essays, dissertations and theses will all be significantly longer, with more studying to do
  • Cost: postgraduate study can be more costly per year
  • Classes: for postgraduate degrees you’ll be in smaller classes

By completing a master’s program, you are seen as more qualified in that subject area than someone with only a bachelor’s degree. Likewise, upon finishing a PhD you would be seen as being at the forefront of research and knowledge in your subject field.

Master’s degree

Master’s degree programs are the most common postgraduate programs. They typically require a student to have finished a bachelor’s degree before commencing. There may be conditions that come with an offer of postgraduate education, for example, the level you attained in your bachelor’s, or whether you have studied a specific subject before.

Taught or research master’s

If you are enrolled in a taught master’s, it will be a similar structure to an undergraduate degree program, with credits to fulfil on classes, or a program established to provide you with particular transferable skills or vocational training. These types of master’s degrees typically require more credits to be obtained than at undergraduate, indicating the extra difficulty of this level of study.

A research master’s degree is a type of master’s degree where you produce one piece of work at the end of the program, typically in the form of a thesis. It is a more concise version of a PhD and is the ideal groundwork if you wanted to do a PhD.

How long it takes to get a master’s degree

Full time, a master’s degree program will take anywhere between one and two years dependent on the school.


Together with doctoral degree programs for specific professions, PhDs are the topmost level of academic education. PhDs concentrate on academic research with very few taught components. The objective of a PhD is to add to your subject area with new and original research, which you will assemble in a thesis.

How long it takes to get a PhD

As a PhD is an unstructured program dependent on individual study, so the time it takes to obtain one can vary a lot based on the person and the school. Commonly, a PhD full time will take between three and four years, but you will usually have the chance to study part-time for a longer period.

Reasons to do a master’s or PhD – Types of Postgraduate Degrees

  • Enhance your career prospects: whether you require a higher qualification for your chosen career, or simply want it to place you ahead of the competition, getting a second degree qualification can assist you with your career prospects.
  • Acquire academic recognition: with these types of postgraduate degrees, you can add to the research on a subject instead of simply learning about it. If you are interested in a career in academia then you will have to get a PhD.
  • Update your knowledge: if it has been a while since you finished your bachelor’s degree, then you may wish to return to study discover the latest findings in your subject field.
  • Learn more about your interests: maybe there was a topic that you did not get to study in undergraduate degree, or you have particular interests that lend themselves to a master’s degree. Taking up postgraduate education could be a brilliant way to make your hobbies or interests part of your academic studies.

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