Jon: Choosing a Postgraduate Degree

Having finished your undergraduate studies in psychology, it’s finally time to choose the postgraduate degree you wish to pursue next. In your postgraduate studies, you will be choosing between a research oriented or a professional/applied oriented path. Ideally, you should have already figured out what type of career you’re passionate about and wish to pursue. If not, here are three important considerations to make before applying for any postgraduate studies!

  1. Financial Costs:
Are you financially able to manage the costs associated with studying a postgraduate degree (e.g., tuition, cost of living, cost of not having a stable income for at least 2 years, etc.) if no scholarships or grants are available?

This is an often glossed over consideration even though postgraduate degrees can be really costly, being easily 2 to 3 times more expensive than an undergraduate one, more so if you’re planning to go overseas where international sources of funding are rare to come by.

  1. Familiarity with the psychology field of choice
How familiar are you with the scene/field you plan to enter?

Before considering any postgraduate degree, you should know the basics of the career path you have chosen, such as job options, type of work you’ll be doing, clientele, remuneration (if this is a factor for you), progression within the sector, and most importantly, the type of accreditation/degree requirements such as practicum hours or supervision required to become part of the field.

  1. Your personal pursuits
What is your end goal?

This is perhaps the most important point to take away. There are many paths that can lead to the same destination, and the path that is right for you may not apply to someone else. Understanding what you hope to gain out of this career and whether this career will enable you to reach these goals is crucial. Realistically speaking, it may be impossible to be 100% certain until you’ve entered the field and experienced the alignment for yourself due to external factors such as the working environment, but knowing and being sure of your end goal is something only you can control, and that’s half the battle won when you know what you’re fighting for.

Having considered these factors, you’re now able to better make the choice on the type of postgraduate degree to pursue. Both research and professional degrees are fulfilling in their own right, and it really depends on what you want out of them.

Research degrees tend to be more academically oriented, meaning you would most probably end up writing many publications or books, teaching and guiding the future generation, and creating new knowledge or redefining previously formed theories. Professional degrees will provide you with the skills and knowledge required to be operate in a particular applied field of psychology such as being an educational or clinical psychologist.

Nevertheless, the two fields are closely intertwined and collaborations between the two are not uncommon. Take your time during the undergraduate years to explore yourself more, and not rush into a postgraduate degree simply for the sake of having one. All the best!