Ten Steps to Take When Choosing a Master’s Program
December 20, 2022
The job market is competitive. Equipping yourself with internationally-recognized qualifications will have far-reaching benefits at every stage of your career journey. In an ideal world, you would want to hand-pick your career and employer. However, many top companies are more likely to choose candidates with advanced degrees before selecting someone with similar experience with a lower-level degree.
Earning your master's degree will help you attain specialized knowledge, assisting you in breaking career barriers to pave your path to success. After obtaining your master's degree, you will show potential employers you have the dedication and work ethic to be successful in your profession. Earning your master's degree will better qualify you to fill sought-after management and leadership roles, with most employers looking to fill more senior positions with individuals with advanced degrees.
Selecting a suitable master’s program is the first step to achieving higher job security, increased career opportunities, higher income potential and personal achievement. The steps you take to decide which program to pursue and selecting an institution are significant. Choosing the right master’s program is critical in helping you achieve your goals. Your program needs to fit your lifestyle, budget, goals, and of course, your principles. If you are considering pursuing a master's, you will need to balance the many advantages against other commitments and the intensity of study levels.
These 10 steps will help you evaluate whether your chosen program is the right fit, and make the road to personal achievement easier.
1. Ask Yourself Why
There are personal and aspirational factors to help you narrow your search. Beyond practical considerations, ask yourself: "Why would I pursue a master’s degree?" Your answers can differ from others, which is a great way to start your search. Your answers to those questions may look like this:
- I want a new job
- I want to advance at the job I have now
- I want to challenge myself academically
Take the time to explore your answers, and what they mean to you, so you can narrow the institutions that empower you to achieve your goals throughout your career.
2. Check Program Requirements
Before you apply for the "perfect" course, make sure to check the entry requirements and your eligibility. If you aren’t qualified, don’t lose heart. Many universities are flexible with their requirements. For example, if you are missing an academic qualification but have professional experience, universities may accommodate this.
3. Shop Around with Your Budget in Mind
The cost of tuition is one of the main factors to consider when looking for a suitable master’s degree program. Because graduate schools can be costly, it pays to shop around and keep your mind and options open. While evaluating the cost, always investigate the main reasons for price disparities. Look for ways to save on the cost of tuition through scholarships, grants and other financial aid.
4. Check the Credibility
Enrolling for your master’s is a big step. Ensure you analyze the school's reputation, quality and credentials. Even if a school has a great website and good sales tactics, it may lack functionality and proficiency in administrative processing and real-time assistance. Investigate whether the school is accredited for your discipline, its ranking compared to other schools offering the same program, and how accessible their programs are. Another thing to consider is how long it has been operating. Schools that well-established usually have better reputations. If you select the wrong institution or program, you may struggle to become a licensed professional.
5. Look Into the Opportunities the Program Offers
Some programs have opportunities for field work, fellowships, internships and even studying abroad. If you are interested in these, ask whether they are available within the program. If these opportunities interest you or you consider them essential to your education, you may want to narrow your focus to the schools that offer them.
6. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Look for a school or university that holds space for everyone and seeks to embrace all human differences while enriching the lives of all students. Diversity and inclusion initiatives work to eliminate discrimination and exclusion based on race, creed, national origin, religion, color, ethnicity, age, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability or military status.
7. Study the Program’s Approach
Investigate the goals, objectives, models and principles of each program you are considering. It will help you gain insight into whether the program is the right one for you. Many disciplines require graduate students to do extensive research and professional-level tasks, which assist them in developing ground-breaking theories and contributing to corresponding science.
8. Find Out about Housing and Residential Life
If you aren’t studying remotely or in long-distance learning, you need to find an institution that suits your living needs. You cannot thrive in an environment that doesn’t nourish you. Search for a university with housing and residential life dedicated to supporting students. Strive to be a part of a student community created for a student-centered learning environment that forms the foundation of academic achievement and personal development.
9. Meet Your Course Supervisors
Participate in open days or events as much as possible to allow yourself to network and meet those running your program. Meeting professors and program supervisors will encourage you to engage and ask questions about the program. You can also discuss subjects and areas you want to explore during your studies and get valuable insight into the program structure. Getting along well and sharing interests with professors and supervisors is a bonus.
10. Examine Your Principles
Consider your personal principles and beliefs, and choose a university that resonates with them. Choose a university that encourages thoughtful and respectful discussion and collaboration among students and faculty. When choosing a school focus on how its principles align with your own.
Deciding to pursue your master’s degree is one of the most significant decisions in your academic and professional career. Selecting your institution and program is the second. If you are need more help deciding what's right for you, reach out to the institutions for advice and more information.