Should I quit my job to study a masters degree?

We’ve compiled a list of all the pros and cons of quitting your job and going back to university to study a postgraduate degree.
Hannah Chapman
Hannah Chapman
Team PostgradAustralia
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After a certain amount of years in your industry, many people start to wonder if studying a master’s degree will be their ticket to a fulfilling and financially rewarding career. It’s not an easy decision to make, and one that requires much thought and consideration.

In order to help you decide on what could be a life-changing step, we’ve compiled a little list of all the pros and cons of quitting your job to get a postgraduate degree. We hope it helps you to figure out your next step.

Pro: increased knowledge = increased job prospects

Sometimes the corporate ladder seems near impossible to climb. In competitive job industries, many people with exactly the same qualifications and experience will vie for a limited amount of positions.

It pays to one-up your peers in this situation. Choosing to further your tertiary education not only shows that you have a deep level of knowledge in your chosen field. It also shows your passion for your industry, and commitment to a career. All of these factors make your resume shine that little bit more, and paint you as attractive candidate for any employer.

Con: financial struggles

If you’ve been working full-time for the last few years, chances are you’ve become accustomed to a certain way of living. The idea of going back to a student lifestyle from your current salary may well put you off deciding to study a master’s.

However, before you write off studying a master’s so you can keep yourself eating those smashed avocados (sorry), know that some financial aid is available. The Australian government offers financial assistance in the form of Austudy to Australian citizens 25 years or older and studying full-time.

If you are under 24 and studying full-time, then you could still qualify for Youth Allowance to help you make ends meet while you study a masters degree. Payment rates for Youth Allowance and Austudy range between $440 and $570 per fortnight, depending on your circumstances.

If you are older than 24, then you may qualify for Austudy. To see a complete list of all the master's programs which are currently approved for financial assistance through Austudy, click here.

Pro: learning is the spice of life

The next sentence is a cliche, but cliches are overused because they are true. Learning is fun!

If you feel as though you are in a bit of a rut at work, it’s likely because you are completely comfortable with what you do every day. As human beings, stimulation and pushing boundaries is what makes us tick. Studying is a great way to challenge yourself, and keep those cognitive functions ticking in tip top shape.

While the benefits of learning new skills and concepts are well known, working full-time doesn’t always leave us the energy we need to pursue our education. The 9-5 schedule 5 days a week tends to eat up our best energy that could be applied to educational pursuits. Of course it’s still possible to complete a master’s degree while working full-time, but quitting your job to pursue further studies allows you to dedicate the time you need to study complex subjects without stressing about work performance on top of it.

While undergraduate degrees and high school can feature less-than-exciting mandatory subjects, your postgraduate tertiary degree lets you explore matters that fascinate you. Stopping full-time work to start studying again allows you to rekindle your romance with expanding your mind. Education isn’t a chore if you love what you are learning, nor if you have enough energy to do it properly.

Con: burning bridges at your workplace

There is a common misconception that some workplaces will frown upon an employee who chooses to leave the team in order to get more of an education. Of course, this may be true sometimes (especially if where you work is terrible, in which case why would you want to be there anyway?).

But in many cases, employees will be encouraging and excited that you are looking to broaden your horizons and learn new skills. The tasks required of your industry are likely always changing, so having skilled employees that can meet those needs is usually viewed as a positive thing by most businesses.

Looking to pursue a postgraduate degree in a field not quite related to your current workplace? That doesn’t mean you will be completely cutting off your chances of future employment with your present company.

Our advice for talking to your current employers about your desire to study full-time is to be completely honest. Don’t leave it to the last minute or leave anyone in the lurch. Be upfront about what you want, and why. Give your company enough time to find a replacement, and part ways on good terms.

In fact, that advice applies to you, right now, who really must be wondering if you should quit your job to further your education if you’ve made it to the end of this article. Be honest with yourself, and what you really want.