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Is a Master’s degree worth it?

Matt N

CF Legend
Hi guys. I am currently in my second year at university, studying BSc Hons Computer Science at the University of Gloucestershire (an undergraduate degree). As I’m now midway through my second year, I am beginning to ponder what I could do after my undergraduate degree finishes.

My natural thought, of course, was a graduate job. I am currently thinking of applying to summer internship schemes to try and gain some experience (I do have 1 or 2 in mind that would like to apply to in the coming days) which will hopefully make me more desirable to employers, and if that fails, I’m thinking of spending the summer doing some online courses to gain some industry-relevant skills.

However, I did have another thought, and that is that I could do a Master’s degree. The area I’m thinking of going into post-university is Data Science/Data Analytics, and my current university offers MSc Data Science as a course.

My initial thought about doing a Master’s was “no way”. I initially felt that it would simply be more money and a way to “delay the inevitable”, if you like.

However, the more I think about it, the more I think that it might be a very valid option to consider. Doing a Master’s in a more specialised discipline that I’d like to pursue a career in would give me some more nuanced skills in that discipline which could make me desirable to employers, and I actually think I would find it quite interesting.

Also, money wouldn’t be such an issue seeing as you can apparently apply for a student loan to do a Master’s degree if you do it straight out of an undergraduate degree.

However, I am aware that quite a few on this forum are doing or have done postgraduate degrees, so I’d be keen to know; if you are doing or have done a postgraduate degree, is it worth it, in your view? Are you glad to have chosen a Master’s degree? Or do you think that going straight into a graduate job or similar would be more valuable?

I would only be intrigued to know about some of your opinions to help myself make an informed choice about my post-university options. I am only midway through second year, so I haven’t really set anything in stone yet by any means, but I’d just be intrigued to hear some thoughts so I can gauge whether a Master’s degree is for me.


Staff member
Social Media Team
I'm taking here from personal experience, and won't proclaim to have any sort of wider understanding of the subject.

In my line of work, professional chartership is a fairly sizable stepping stone into positions of more responsibility. And for the chartership bodies most relevant to my work, you have two main routes - in short:
1. Masters Degree, plus ~4yrs on-the-job experience, reports and finally an interview.
2. Bachelors Degree, plus additional self-study and a Masters level thesis (completed while working), plus ~4yrs on-the-job experience, reports and finally an interview.

So you look at it from that angle alone, and it starts to shape up that running the postgrad straight off the back of the undergrad makes sense. You're in a better environment for learning (resources, time and mindset), and it simplifies things down the line.

In engineering, the MEng/BEng ratio is generally one of the highest - and I presume that it's for that sort of reasoning.

I did think about the PhD, but after the four years was up, I was growing keen to 'get out there' a bit.

From a retrospective look at purely my own path - the postgrad year gave me more opportunity to study stuff that I enjoyed, learn from field-leading experts, have the satisfaction of writing a masters thesis, get to come back and 'finish' it all in Sheffield (I studied my final undergrad year in the USA), and (to be frank) enjoy another year at University with my friends and less responsibilities.

It could be worth having a look around at what modules and thesis options are on the table for your specific course - there may be some swaying power in what is on offer specifically, over just MSc/BSc.

Funding it - not easy to say. I was on the £3k/yr fees, and had had a 'cheap' year of fees as a result of being abroad, but I wouldn't let that get on top of you. I'm fortunate to be in a position now where my student loan deductions don't significantly affect the total that lands in my bank account every month, and definitely have no impact on my lifestyle, so it's a bit of a non-event really. Sure, would be nice to have the cash myself, but just something I live with as a fact of life. They write the debt off at some point anyway.

The right answer is the one you make. Do it now, you won't be worse off. Do it later, that door is always open. Either way, you'll never really know what the other route would have looked like, so don't worry too much about having to do these things for the perfect future. You'll turn out great regardless.


Hyper Poster
With the cost of a masters degree being astonishingly high, if you don't benefit from some sort of scholarship or sponsorship I would approach it myself on an 'is this actually helpful to employment?' perspective.

Is there likely to be tangible benefit from having a masters degree over a year's employment experience? In many (most?) fields, no - probably not.

Meanwhile, some professions (often regulated ones) require a post-graduate qualification to progress.

Perhaps spend some time as if you were looking to apply for a job now. Look at those prospective employers - what qualifications do they require?

It's also worth adding that it is very normal for people to end up working in a field that does not relate to their undergraduate degree. What you find interesting as an academic subject does not necessarily translate into a satisfying career - depending on what you choose to prioritise.
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Staff member
Social Media Team
Whether it's "worth it" depends entirely on what you're looking to do later. Will you need one, or if not, will it make you more employable in your intended line of work?

I could have done one practically for free had I done it straight after my PGCE at the same university, but I was burnt out and couldn't face it right away.

I was meaning to do one for a while, probably two years part time as I'd be working as well, but, for my current line of work, it's pointless. It wouldn't give me a bump in salary, and I've got so much experience at this point - 10 years of it at quite a prestigious school - that I'm not worried about getting another job in the same area should I want or need one.

However, if I decide to move from local schools to international, a Masters would probably make me a more attractive hire.

But anyway, yeah, there's no correct answer.

Chris Brown

Mr CoasterForce 2016
I’m in the same industry as @Hixee but my BEng was funded through sponsorship by my company. I was offered a sponsored masters but declined due to being sick of education, opting for Chartership via the non masters route.

You may find a company willing to sponsor your masters later down the line, I know it’s a relatively common thing in my industry but not sure about yours.

My boss is always skeptical recruiting people that have gone from undergrad straight to postgrad, says they expect a lot whilst offering very little more than an undergraduate would! I wouldn’t let that sway you though.


Strata Poster
Personal experience: I have a PhD, but do not have a Masters degree. I'm no extraordinaire in context (I got a 2.i in my BSc, for example), but ultimately my lack of Masters did not hamper me from taking the next step that I wanted to take.

More broadly speaking, it depends. If you enjoy learning, can get funding / afford it and it's related to what you want to do after, then sure, it's worth it. Even if a Masters degree isn't necessary for what you want to do after, if you enjoy it and it can add something for you, that's a good thing.

I think what's probably best is to avoid doing a Masters degree just for the sake of doing another year at university. It's better to have a clearer idea of what you might like to do and where you might like to be in 3-5 years and focus on figuring that out now rather than using a Masters degree to delay that choice by another year.


Mega Poster
Depending on what career you want I would say not necessarily. I'd even say to a certain extent Degree's are less relevant nowadays.

From my experience of swapping Jobs this last year they didn't really care that much about any qualifications I had and it was all about experience instead. I have applied for jobs which state must be degree qualified and got them based on experience instead and having 3x level 5 qualifications.

In the company I work for they are all about getting you in at whatever level and asking you what you would like to progress to and then doing in house training instead so most people getting promotions are internal and then they bring people in at lower levels again.


Strata Poster
I could have done one practically for free had I done it straight after my PGCE at the same university, but I was burnt out and couldn't face it right away.
Speaking of PGCE’s … if you fancy earning one you will literally get paid £27k tax free to do so without any commitment required from you to go into the teaching profession. You can literally do your PGCE, pick up your £27k and walk away not even entering the profession because the education system in the UK is completely ****ed.



Hyper Poster
Not sure if you're still after questions here but I did one and found that it opened doors for me in terms of getting me in front off interviewers. 12 years into my career since getting my MSc it doesn't really make a difference anymore, but it did in those crucial first years.


Matt SR
Staff member
Social Media Team
Throw me in the "it depends" camp: I graduated with a bachelor of arts in Communication/Public Relations and originally set sights on joining the U.S. National Parks Service. Moved out to California, took up an outdoor education/high ropes climbing gig, and applied to as many job postings as I could.

When that didn't pan out (SUPER competitive), I did some soul-searching on what exactly I wanted to do. Realizing my drive for the Parks Service was out of a passion for applying environmental education, and that other jobs can create a similar path to advocacy - I found going back to school for a Master in Public Policy or Public Affairs would give me the tools and networking I would need to break into that line of work.

Wound up back in Ohio at Ohio State University studying a Master in Public Administration (focused on Energy Policy, which is only a hop, skip, and jump away from Environmental Policy), which provided me an introduction to my internship, which turned into full-time work, and continued to progress to where I am now, 10+ years into the work.

A Master's degree was absolutely not mandatory for this progression (if anything, I have been working to make sure we are hiring non-Masters candidates to recognize other professional experience beyond academic criteria), and I work with many amazing people who have half the schooling I do. Like everyone is alluding to, there are many paths to where you want to be. Having an open heart and open mind to those paths is key!