Thinking about studying a Masters?

This is a lowdown of everything Masters to help you decide if it is right for you and to know some of the potential benefits for your career development.

What is a Masters degree?

A Masters degree is a Level 7 qualification (Bachelors degree is Level 6) with full-time programmes typically being one year long (some can be two years in duration).

Where a degree is broad in nature, Masters tend to focus on refined aspects of a field in greater detail. Class sizes will be smaller and work will be intense, faster and more advanced than its undergraduate counterpart.

There are various titles of Masters awards to be familiar with. Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc) are the most common, although others include:

LLM      (Master of Law)                                        MFA   (Master of Fine Arts)

MArch (Master of Architecture)                         MLitt  (Master of Letters)

MEd     (Master of Education)                             MMus (Master of Music)

MEng   (Master of Engineering)                          MSt     (Master of Studies)

MBA    (Master of Business Administration)

Lastly, Master of Research (MRes) is predominantly studied from distance, with an independent research project taking up around 60% of a student’s overall time.

Integrated Masters

An integrated Masters is a programme that combines an additional qualification (usually with an undergraduate degree or sometimes a PhD). This means you will study a single programme instead of two separate programmes over a four-year period instead of three.

How is a Masters graded?

50% or above for a Pass;

60% or above for a Merit; and,

70% or above for Distinction.

How much does a Masters cost?

Fees for Masters vary from course-to-course and each institution. According to UCAS fees average £11,000 per year although Arts and Humanities subjects tend to be cheaper than the average, with STEM and Medical courses often costing more.

Student loans are available (£10,500 approx) as well as scholarships and bursaries, Research Council grants, employer sponsorship and crowdfunding.

It is also helpful to point out than an integrated Masters can be financed entirely from an undergraduate loan (four years) rather than a separate post-graduate loan. This means that you will pay less back later in your career (gross salary of £25,000 or above per year).

Will a Masters get me a job?

Masters degrees are regarded highly by employers, however, a Masters can’t guarantee you a job on graduation. 77% of all working-age postgraduates were in high-skilled employment compared to 65% of graduates (2017).

Masters are also an essential requirement for some professions, such as Psychologists, Lawyers, some Social Workers and Medical professionals, inter alia.

Additionally, having a Masters could give you the edge over other candidates in an interview, lead to accelerated career progression and/or allow you to specialise within a profession.

Can I do a Masters with a 2:2?

The short answer is, possibly. Most providers will insist on at least a 2:1, however, many providers will consider an application with a 2:2. The institution may ask for an explanation about your classification and why you should be considered. Others may also factor in work experience as well as your dissertation grade.

Which course is right for me?

It is tempting to go on gut feeling, be blinded by the name of an institution or as whimsical as whether a campus that looks snazzy and modern. A gut feeling about a place is important but not the only important factor to consider.

Use the advanced skills that got you to this stage in your academic career and create criteria to compare against courses and providers. Below are some ideas to get you started:

  1. University reputation
  2. Department reputation and staff expertise
  3. Career prospects
  4. Taught or research Masters
  5. Course content
  6. Links with industry
  7. Location
  8. Fees and funding
  9. Support and facilities

Sources of help

Prospects (Masters degrees):

Target Jobs (Why do postgraduate study):

(What can I do with my Masters?):

The Guardian (Don’t choose a masters before taking these four steps): guardianfoursteps


GOV.UK (Funding for postgraduate study):

We’re still here to help!

As always, the Careers and Employability Service is here to help, even in these difficult times. You can access us, via email, telephone or video call by emailing as well as My Careers Centre.

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