So you’ve completed all of your coursework, donned a graduation cap and gown, twisted the honoured tassel, and crossed the stage to claim your well-deserved Bachelor degree. You certainly have earned the right to pat yourself on the back for a job well-done, but this may not be the last stop on your academic journey. Why? Because a Master’s degree may be an invaluable next step. Here’s a closer look at four reasons why Master’s degrees are a smart choice for today’s career-minded college graduates.
1. It’s a great career booster.
According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder, 32 percent of employers have bumped up education requirements for job candidates. A significant 27 percent, meanwhile, are now requiring Master’s degrees for positions which previously required only Bachelor degrees. The takeaway, according to many sources? The Master’s degree is the new Bachelor degree.
But a Master’s degree won’t just help you get a better job; it will also help you excel in your job after you’re hired. The specialized talents and skills you acquire during your studies will prepare you to conquer today’s challenges in the workplace, and to earn a higher paycheck while doing so.
Dr Evdokia Pittas, who coordinates two popular Master’s degree programmes offered through UNICAF: the MA Education - Innovation in Learning and Teaching, offered in collaboration with the University of South Wales in the UK, and the MEd Education Sciences - Educational Leadership and Administration, in collaboration with the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, and who also academically supports the Unicaf University MA Education programme, attests to the potential of Master’s degrees to help students throughout Africa strengthen their profiles as job candidates and career professionals. “Students in Africa, who work in different organizations, companies or schools have the opportunity, through their Master’s studies, to develop and grow professionally as managers, executives, head teachers, administrators, officers or teachers,” she says.
Looking to level up in your career, meanwhile? A Master’s degree also offers a fast track to career advancement. “For instance, teachers in different countries, like Kenya, Zambia, Malawi etc., who may be already working as headmasters at their schools, or may aspire to advance to that level in the future, express a strong interest in postgraduate degree programmes relevant to Leadership and Management in Education, because they seek to increase their knowledge and skills, to be able to function better in their current or future job positions,” says Pittas.
2. It offers unique “soft skills” highly useful in the modern workplace.
The benefits of postgraduate degrees aren’t limited to the usual range of hard skills. As a Master’s degree student, you’ll have the opportunity to hone soft skills, which you may have been introduced to during your undergraduate studies, ranging from Time Management to Communication and Teamwork.
You also become more mature after completing a Master’s degree. According to Master’s student Steff Young. “It develops a new form of maturity. You are no longer the student to the teacher. Rather, you are and your peers are fellow researchers working in the field. This creates a whole new dynamic and mode of conversation, and confidence, which will enable you to enter the workplace as a professional, rather than as a graduate or intern,” she told The Independent.
3. The skills you learn are transferable.
Of all the skills you acquire in graduate school, the vast majority of them are transferable. So even if you don’t end up working in an area that’s directly applicable to your field of study, you’ll still be able to apply what you have learned during your Master’s studies in a meaningful way.
Says Dr Pittas, “Master’s degree students have the opportunity to practice and enhance their skills in Time Management, Teamwork, Leadership and so on, gaining valuable tools for professional development and lifelong learning, through engaging, collaborative tasks. We live and learn in a digital age, and as a result, integrating technology into our professional and learning approaches is of vital importance; digital tools act as mental instruments, supporting and strengthening the learning process.”
4. The right school will help you make the most of your degree.
Of course, just like all Bachelor degree programmes aren’t created equal, nor are all Master’s degree programmes equal, which is what makes choosing the right university and the right programme so important. Certain universities offer additional advantages, such as facilitating the transition from your Bachelor degree to your Master’s degree and then helping you join the workplace in the most advantageous way.
Take UNICAF, for example. Dr Pittas speaks enthusiastically of their approach:
“The transition from a Bachelor to a Master’s degree is smoothly achieved at UNICAF. All modules are meticulously designed and developed by experts in the field, following the latest pedagogical principles for curriculum development. The modules clarify the learning objectives and learning outcomes of each weekly session and the sessions include pedagogical research-based activities, collaborative work, reflective tasks, relevant videos, pdf overviews, etc. Furthermore, particular attention is paid, so that students continue to build on previously gained knowledge and professional experience. For example, Master’s students can choose from a range of assignment topics, (which cover the whole course content), the most relevant to their position or future career direction. As a result, our students are helped to transition successfully from Bachelor to Master’s level, reaching their full potential as professionals, able to contribute to the development of themselves, of their career, their organization, their profession, their country and Africa as a whole”.