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Why is a postgraduate degree worth it? 

If you’re lucky enough to work in a field you’re interested in and are passionate about, you probably have grand plans to climb the ranks.  

On the other hand, after working in one industry for a while, you might feel ready to explore new fields and expand your experience. One way to do so is to enrol in a postgraduate degree.  

But is a postgraduate degree worth it? The extra costs, the time, the mental effort? Here, we explain why a postgraduate degree might be exactly what you need.  

What is a postgraduate degree? 

A postgraduate degree is additional tertiary study that can be undertaken once you’ve successfully completed an undergraduate degree.  

Why study a postgraduate degree?  

So, you’ve made your way through an undergraduate degree. Why study a postgraduate degree? 

There are several reasons why completing a postgraduate degree is worth the effort.  

Reason #1: you’ll be seen as an expert   

Taking the initiative to master your skills and become an expert in your discipline will be noticed by employers – whether that’s at your current organisation, or an entirely new one, says Deakin’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Professor Liz Johnson.  

As well as showing you’re across your discipline area, a postgraduate degree is evidence to employers of your commitment and desire to excel in your field.  

Your resume will show that ‘you’re committed enough to undertake a course of study and you’ve spent dollars investing in your learning,’ Prof. Johnson says. 

Many career opportunities come from being noticed. That’s why it’s important to project a highly skilled picture of yourself wherever you work. 

A postgraduate degree is worth considering because being seen as an expert in your field can lend you countless advantages especially with the competitive nature of recruitment and promotions.  

According to the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching Graduate Outcomes Survey, graduates with a postgraduate degree have better full-time employment outcomes than those with an undergraduate degree. In 2023, 90.3% of postgraduate coursework graduates and 85.3% of postgraduate research graduates were in full-time employment four months after completing their degree, compared with 79% of undergraduates. 

It’s also possible that your position as a distinctly knowledgeable and skilled worker will make you influential enough to create your own opportunities. 

Reason #2: you’ll gain new proficiencies – faster 

Still not sure if a postgraduate degree is worth it 

It’s worth considering how further study might help you improve in certain areas. 

While on-the-job training can be an effective way to enhance your skills, Prof. Johnson explains a key difference between enhancing your skills that way and a postgraduate degree is the resources you’ll be offered. 

‘If you’re learning on-the-job, you’re going to be doing that incrementally, and you may not have access to the things you need. Your professional development on-the-job also might be more focused on the role you’re currently in rather than the thing you want to do in the future, so you may not have the opportunity to pick up those new skills,’ she says. 

Whether you complete a masters degree or dip your toes into a shorter course, postgraduate study will allow you to gain depth of knowledge in your discipline, which Prof. Johnson says will ensure you become a true expert. This can push you into higher roles, making the investment in your postgraduate degree worth it.  

‘You’re more likely to be innovating, critiquing or developing,’ she explains. 

'You’re committed enough to undertake a course of study and you’ve spent dollars investing in your learning.'

Prof. Liz Johnson,
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education, Deakin University

Reason #3: your confidence will grow exponentially 

Your skills won’t be the only thing getting a refresh if you decide that a postgraduate degree is worth it. Prof. Johnson says it will also equip you with an enhanced sense of confidence for your career. 

‘Most postgraduates I interact with are really pleased with how much they’ve grown as a person,’ she explains. ‘You see yourself as a professional in the field, and you see yourself as capable. That helps you to really step forward.’ 

This kind of confidence doesn’t just come from attaining a greater knowledge and understanding of your discipline. It also comes from being around people who are experts in your field – your tutors. 

‘As you go into postgraduate study, you’ll feel like you’re a lot closer to them, and you can more readily see yourself in the people who are teaching you.’ 

The 2023 Graduate Outcomes Survey echoes this sentiment, as 79% of postgraduates in full time work indicated that their degree prepared them ‘well’ or ‘very well’ for what was ahead. 

In a future of work that’s still uncertain, having this kind of assurance in your own abilities as a professional can give you a competitive edge. When you’re confident in yourself, others will show confidence in you. 

‘Don’t underestimate the value of practicing your learning and exploring your field in greater depth,’ Prof. Johnson says. ‘It really does make a difference to how you see yourself as a professional.’ 

Reason #4: a postgraduate degree will fit into your busy life (and keep you motivated) 

If complete overwhelm has prevented you from upskilling previously, fear not. Another big positive of a postgraduate degree is the convenience it offers you.  

When considering why a postgraduate degree is worth it, Prof. Johnson tells us, ‘A structured degree brings together lots of elements that you would otherwise have to source yourself.’ 

If you’re already employed full time, you might not have a lot of spare time on your hands, and if you’re juggling a family on top of that, trying to find resources, attend talks or events and teach yourself new skills can become an arduous (and potentially disheartening) task. 

A postgraduate degree consolidates everything you’ll need to be working at the next level, whether that’s more advanced skills, management, research, or even going out on your own. Being able to learn from industry experts, deepening your knowledge and skill base and having access to practical experiences all in the same place is an invaluable advantage if you’re time-poor. 

Because it’s a structured learning environment, Prof. Johnson says, ‘it will walk you through a new space, and the deadlines will keep you moving and on track.’ You’ll be motivated, and able to visualise a clear trajectory to your goals. 

Is a postgraduate degree worth it? The verdict is in.  

So, is a postgraduate degree worth it?  

If you’re looking to upskill, secure your position as a subject-matter expert, or gain professional confidence, further study may be right for you.  

Postgraduate study can be particularly beneficial if you’re juggling a busy career and family life, as it offers a structured way of learning. 

Have more questions about whether a postgraduate degree is worth it or right for you? We’re here to help guide you. Get in touch with us today.  

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Professor Liz Johnson
Professor Liz Johnson

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education, Deakin University

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