What is a Postgraduate degree

What is a Postgraduate, and What Does It Mean?

Postgraduate degrees include a number of qualifications that require a bachelor’s degree before you can be considered for enrollment, and that includes all graduate-level courses until you receive a doctorate.

There are many reasons to get a degree; some reasons include if you are looking forward to working in academic and research institutions or specializing in career paths, or a complete career change.

So, what is a Postgraduate degree in the USA? Is a master’s a Postgraduate degree? These are some out of the questions that leave many people confused, especially if it is your first time hearing it.

Throughout this post, we will be giving an in-depth explanation of the Postgraduate available. Who should study Postgraduate? Should you consider pursuing a Postgraduate course? What exactly is the program for?

But before anything else, the name of the program itself should be able to give you foresight into Postgraduate degree meaning, Postgraduate i.e., something after being a graduate.

Types of Postgraduate Degrees

The Postgraduate degree is generally a degree earned after the bachelor’s, and the bachelor’s also serves as a prerequisite for being admitted into a Postgraduate program, although there can be exceptions. The duration of the Postgraduate program varies according to the one you choose, and there are four types of programs at the Postgraduate level. Taught courses are divided into two categories: Master’s degree and postgraduate diplomas.

The length of study for a taught course is generally one to two years (masters) and will involve that the student submitting a researched thesis at the end of the program. And you can decide to consider studying for the bachelor’s together with the master’s degree depending on how much you can cope with. On the other hand, the Professional diploma and certificates are both technical and academics; the length of study for the Postgraduate certificate is four months while the diploma can last up to nine months. 

They can lead you to a specific career or use them to further into advanced learning. The certificates can be awarded to people that do not complete their master’s degrees. The next one is the research degree; these are many times referred to as the doctoral degree. The individual undertaking this course will have to handle projects on their own. Conversion courses are used to transfer to a subject area; it is for an individual that does not have knowledge relevant to a particular subject. Professional courses are tailored according to a specific career. For example, Juris Doctor, Doctor of medicine, and LPC.

Research Degree

As the name implies, they are centered on research, and they are mostly referred to as the Doctorate. It is possible to obtain a research degree or doctorate after obtaining a master’s degree. Sometimes, it can also be obtained after completing a bachelor’s degree, i.e., in a situation where the master’s degree was earned at the same time as a bachelor’s degree. In this degree, the student only does research, and there might not be lectures or seminars. This will enable you to work more flexibly on your own, and you can plan everything at your convenience. This gives you the freedom to work independently so that you can plan your day your way. You will be able to interact with other researchers, such as former doctors and laboratory assistants, and will be able to gain access to training and needed equipment. In developing independent investigative skills, you will work closely with your supervisor to assist with research. Research degrees provide graduates with the skills and attributes they need for complex and diverse roles in industry, government, business, and even academic and research institutions. The candidates in research degrees are propelled by curious natural thinking and a passion for problem-solving and human development.

What is it for?

The degree is an advanced study that is used for exploring in-depth into a topic. So, it is purely for research. It also allows you to carry out independent research on the existing works of professionals in your field. This will also enable you to come out with a new and concise knowledge relevant and contribute to your field. So, the degree is for solving problems and the development of humanity by producing the necessary expertise.

Who is it for?

The degree is at the graduate level, so basically, it is for the holder of Bachelor’s and master’s degrees. You must have fulfilled all requirements at the undergraduate level before you can be considered for a research degree. The degree is also perfect for individuals that are naturally curious and love to gain more knowledge and people that desire to have a career in the academic environment and research firms. The research degree is designed for individuals that are passionate about generating research and knowledge for their chosen fields. Those that want to obtain advanced skills and higher learning.

Features of a Research Degree

Below are some of the characteristics that make a research degree distinct from other academic degrees. They are Independent research projects carried out by research students; the projects were singlehandedly planned and managed by research students, although there will still be some guidance from experts in the field. The research degree has a different graduation requirement from other programs, while other programs might be accessed by exams only.

The student in a research degree is being assessed by the qualities, skills, and knowledge that are shown in the thesis and during the defense. The degree is only for students that are well motivated and can trust their skills and knowledge by working alone and also being at the same time will be able to work with a team. The programs will lead you most times through the path of higher learning, although they can be used for employment. In the program as a student, you are not directed by any timetable; it is more flexible than other academic programs. The program’s duration differs according to the program you are choosing, and the format of learning may be part-time or full-time.

Examples of research degrees are Ph.D., MPhil, EngD, MD, EdD, and Masters by research.

Requirements and Eligibility for Completing the Research Degree

To be awarded a research degree, you must have completed a research thesis, and it must originally be your research and not copied, and it must be qualified for publication. And normally, you will also defend your research dissertation or thesis before appointed experts. And through the thesis, you must be able to convince the experts that you have:

  • Wide knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of your chosen topic and the relevant research techniques which means you must demonstrate that you know what you write down in your thesis.
  • Utilize your knowledge of the area of study and relevant techniques in your work, that is, you use a reasonable research method that is appropriate to solve the research problem and also use the method to correctly and accurately analyze the result.
  • Contributed to the existing knowledge in your field through your researched thesis.

Some examples of Research Degree Programs:

  • Doctor of Applied Social Research (DASR)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil) 
  • Masters by research
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)  

Master’s Degree

The academic learning is in levels, and the next level after the undergraduate program is the master’s. It is more advanced, although it has a shorter length of study than the bachelor’s degree. It is different from the bachelor’s and associate degrees in that you have an option to study various courses that include general, electives, and core.

The Master’s degree is more specialized and narrows everything down to a single area of interest. It is suitable for advancement in studies or increasing your ability to meet the ever-changing demand for highly skilled professionals in the labor market. It will take you approximately two years of classwork and research to earn a master’s degree although it can be different for some institutions and courses of study as some take one and a half years. The mode of studying for the degree can be full-time, part-time, and online. Students who want to work and study simultaneously mostly go for part-time and online study. And the requirement for admission is the undergraduate degree and other things, as stated by the institution.

Before you can be awarded the degree, you must have finished, submitted, and correctly defended your research dissertation. The total semester credit you must have completed is between 36 to 54 credits in a semester, which is equivalent to 60 to 90 credits in an institution that operates on quarters.

Although students generally pursued this degree after their undergraduate studies, some schools allow an integrated Master’s degree that enables you to study your bachelor’s and Master’s degrees simultaneously. There are many examples of Master’s degrees awarded, but the most common types are Masters of Science, Masters of Arts, Masters of Fine Arts, and Masters of Business Administration.

What is it for?

What’s a Postgraduate degree at the Master’s level? With many studying bachelor’s degrees these days, one of the best ways to stand out of the crowd is to pursue a Master’s degree. The program is for Advanced learning and also a way to gain higher knowledge in your chosen field. So, depending on your need, you may choose to pursue it in order to increase your marketability and improve your chance of getting a job as an applicant or to increase your earnings as an employee. And also, to further ahead more in your studies.

Who is it for?

The program is for those who have completed their undergraduate studies and still want to further ahead. On the other hand, for a career, the graduate degree is for those who want to improve their knowledge and skills and also add a qualification to their resume. It is also for those who are eyeing executive positions in their organization, and you can pursue a Master’s degree program if you want to change from one field to another.

Features of Master’s Degree

It is vital that you know the characteristics of the Master’s degree because many still wonder whether the Master is a graduate or Postgraduate.

  • It is the degree at the graduate or undergraduate level, and it is pursued after the undergraduate program.
  • The study’s length is mostly two or three years, although it might vary according to the institution or the course you are studying.
  • The requirement is an undergraduate degree, second class upper in your degree, statement of purpose, and other necessary things depending on the institution.
  • The format for studying the course is full-time, part-time, and online, but people mostly choose the online and the part-time option. 
  • It is a degree that you can conveniently pursue while working.
  • The program entails both research and classroom work.
  • Financial Aid is limited to a student pursuing an undergraduate degree.
  • Depending on the institution, you may be required to write a comprehensive exam or submit a research dissertation before concluding the degree.

The Master’s degree can be taught, research, professional, and specialized degree.

Requirements and Eligibility for Completing the Master’s Degree

Some universities or colleges might require that you submit a thesis or be assessed through an exam. Exam or thesis, you must complete a semester credit between 36 to 54 in a semester or 60 to 90 in universities that use a quarter system. Some examples of Master’s Degree Programs: The following examples include the common examples of Master’s degrees, the professionals, and the specialized.

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Architecture (M. Arch)
  • Masters in Management (MiM)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Letters (MLitt)
  • Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

What Does A Postgraduate Degree Do for Your Career?

  • Improves the prospect of your сareer

Gone were those days when a bachelor’s degree used to be the best standard for employment. Recently, a lot of people are pursuing a bachelor’s and which makes the program not as special as before, and that aside, employers have also increased their standard of employment. If you want a better edge over the competition, you should consider pursuing a Postgraduate study.

  • For changing career

The usefulness of Postgraduate is not restricted to being used as a way to level up your chance of employment. But they can be pursued by individuals who are looking for a change in career. At the Postgraduate level, you have the opportunity to leave the field you studied while an undergraduate and change totally to another. However, do your research very well on the course you want to change to, as some require subjects at the undergraduate level as a prerequisite.

  • Flexibility

 Part of the privilege that is not available at the undergraduate level is flexibility, and you get to enjoy a load of it at the Postgraduate level. You will decide your mode of learning, whether full-time, part-time, or online. And it does not matter the university you studied for your undergraduate degree; you can choose another one. The Postgraduate also allows you to combine work with study. So, as you study you can also combine it with the practical experience from your working place.

  • Networking with people

Even though there are countless people you will meet during your undergraduate studies, and you might still not be able to form a good relationship with them. The Postgraduate brings you closer with fellow students as the applicants are not always much like the one for an undergraduate degree. Not only with other students but with lecturers and other experts in your field, and this will significantly increase your connections and might eventually make things easy for you while seeking an internship or your first job.

  • Increase your knowledge

Seeking knowledge can be very interesting because you will get to know new things. Aside from being used to getting better employment, Postgraduate is for those who are passionate about acquiring knowledge and delving deeper into a particular subject of interest. You will be able to have advanced knowledge through individual research, and through your contributions (either right or wrong) in the class, you can also gain more knowledge. For example, an MBA Postgraduate degree increases your knowledge about business.

  • Career in Academia

Lastly, if you want a career in the academic environment, you would not want to joke with postgraduate studies. Because before you can be deemed fit as someone that will teach others, you must acquire a lot of knowledge in that field.

The Difference Between Postgraduate and Undergraduate Degrees

The length of study for undergraduate programs is between 2 to 4 years, while the Postgraduate studies can be as little as a year or up to eight years depending on the course, institution, and mode of study. The undergraduate has varieties of course loads which can be General, electives, and core subjects while the Postgraduate has limited subjects as they are more specialized. The Postgraduate program is much more flexible than the undergraduate. You can decide to study and at the same time work alone. And some post-graduate studies are not bound by Time Tables.

The classes in undergraduate studies involve many students, so you might not get to have a personal relationship with professors while in Postgraduate, you are personally assigned to a professor. The undergraduate program involves much classwork and fewer research activities while the Postgraduate mostly focuses on research and less classwork. The assessment at the postgraduate studies is always more difficult than at the undergraduate because every student in the Postgraduate class is seen as a professional.

Some Postgraduate degrees might require that you have working experience while you can directly gain admission into all undergraduate studies after you have graduated from high school. The Postgraduate will require that you submit an individually researched thesis or dissertation while the undergraduate only involves a few projects that might either be carried out in groups or duly monitored by the professors.

Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to go to campus to earn a postgraduate degree?   

You do not have to go to the campus to earn your Postgraduate degree. There are modes of learning, like online and distance learning, that the institution offers. In fact, Postgraduate is the best program to pursue off-campus. Although, some institutions might require that you come for graduation on the campus.

What comes after a Postgraduate degree?

The postgraduate degree includes a Master’s and Doctorate, and Doctorate is the highest academic degree. If you are pursuing your Master’s degree presently, then Doctorates is next, but if you are through with both, you can start applying for them.

How many years is a Postgraduate degree?

Depending on the program you are choosing, it’s between one to three years for masters, and you might spend up to eight years in doctorates.

What level is a postgraduate degree?

The degree is at the Graduate Level, a level after your Bachelor’s.

What is considered a postgraduate degree?

The degree after the undergraduate degree. It is mostly research-oriented.

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of admissionsly.com, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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