While master’s degrees are great, surviving an undergraduate programme and bagging a bachelor’s degree is one of the most laudable achievements ever.
Each course of study has its unique mental, physical and emotional tolls. Spread that across four, five or six years—even more, when one factors in the academic strikes peculiar to public universities in Nigeria—and it comes as no surprise that many graduates prefer not to return to any university for any additional degree.
The mere thought of it? Almost repulsive.
Nonetheless, there are still those who take a step further by pursuing and bagging master’s degrees. It could also be said that master’s programmes have good PR in general. In any case, what are master’s degrees and how necessary are they?
What Is A Master’s Degree?
It’s in the name. A master’s programme is an advanced academic programme operated by universities worldwide, where a degree is awarded upon successful mastery of a particular discipline. Master’s degrees in general run for a year, a year and a half or two years.
A master’s programme is a different ball game from a bachelor’s programme. Under the former, students are required to expand their knowledge base on a subject area and think at a higher and a more critical level than what is expected of undergraduate students.
A bachelor’s programme offers the requisite foundation for a master’s programme. Master’s students are thus expected to build on their undergraduate knowledge in order to develop the highest possible level of proficiency in a specific discipline.
At the end of a master’s programme, students are required to turn in a dissertation, also known as a thesis.
Why People Seek Master’s Degrees
1. An Innate Desire For Higher Proficiency
People get into master’s programmes partly to attain peak proficiency in a discipline. However, it may also be the sole reason why they embark on it. It may seem alarming to many, given that a bachelor’s programme and a few years’ working experience rightfully yield a substantial amount of knowledge and practical experience.
Then again, people have their unique preferences. Some people seek to acquire master’s degrees for the most in-depth, grounded exposure to a subject area.
2. Career Progression
It may be argued that the desire to be more valuable and earn more as a professional is the biggest motivator for people who enroll in master’s programmes.
The previous reason ties into this, but this stands out in its own right. In Nigeria and many other countries, it has been long perceived and largely proven that possessing a master’s degree, especially one from a foreign university, places one on a very high pedestal in many organisations.
Essentially, holders of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees earn considerably more than holders of bachelor’s degrees alone.
3. Career Change
Another reason why people pursue master’s degrees is to switch careers.
For example, a holder of an LL.B (Bachelor of Laws degree) who may have also acquired a B.L (awarded upon the completion of Law School) and has been involved in litigation for three years may develop a strong interest in Maritime Law or Energy Law and may decide to enroll in a master’s programme to build proficiency in said areas in order to make a switch.
While many may not deem it necessary to get a master’s degree before making a career switch, it is a valuable addition to many career paths. This is coupled with the prestige master’s degree holders enjoy.
Of course, one does not need to enroll in a master’s programme to network with professionals in one’s field. However, pursuing a master’s degree affords one the opportunity to meet and form stronger connections with a sizeable number of like-minded professionals.
The duration of the average master’s programme affords enough time for bonds to be formed over collaborative work. Great ideas are also shared and nurtured.
5. Honing Of Soft Skills
A very natural consequence of the pursuit of a master’s degree and the work that goes into a dissertation/thesis is the vast improvement of one’s research skills, analytical skills and writing skills.
In the event that a master’s student does not pursue a career related to the degree, these valuable soft skills can easily be transferred to other fields or endeavours.
When And Where Should You Get A Master’s Degree?
For the reasons above and more, you may want to get a master’s degree. However, you need to bear the financial costs and general demands of the programme in mind. You also need to be very sure that you have a strong interest in the proposed field.
The cost of master’s programmes varies across universities and across courses, but it goes without saying that one would spend a considerable amount of money, especially if the intended university is a foreign one. In essence, clarity of purpose and early financial arrangements are crucial.
With regard to the ideal timing, it is widely perceived that a master’s programme is best embarked upon at a young age—shortly after the completion of one’s bachelor’s programme. However, interest and commitment are the ultimate factors, regardless of the age.