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What’s the benefit of going straight from undergrad to postgrad?

PostgradAustralia

A world of job opportunities opens after undergrad, but it pays to give serious thought to further study for a few reasons.

They say nobody ever stops learning. Whether you’ve already received a job offer or intend to seek one, you’ll likely spend the next several years learning a great deal about your industry. It’s undoubtedly a great idea to start working full time and paying off those loans and expenses, but the second option can potentially set you up for even greater prosperity. Here are three reasons to consider postgraduate study after your bachelor’s.

Graduate outcomes

Postgrads don’t slouch when it comes to the job market. According to 2018 QILT survey results, full-time postgraduate coursework employment rose from 81.3% in 2015 to 92.4% in 2018 within four months of graduation. Median full-time salaries for postgraduate coursework degree holders increased by 18.4% in the same period, up to around $90,000 p/a. This isn’t just select universities skewing the average. All universities around Australia achieved at least 85% full-time employment for their coursework graduates three years after graduation, with some of the big players like USYD hitting 95.7%, University of Notre Dame Australia 97.2% and the University of Melbourne 94.7%. Salaries aren’t far behind this trend, but even underperformers command respectable full-time rates. At the top end, coursework graduates from the likes of CQU for example were earning $108,000 p/a three years out. In general, postgrads by coursework make $20,000 more on average each year than those with solely undergrad qualifications(p8), with 17.4% of employed postgraduates being employed as managers compared to 9.3% for undergrads (p58-59).

Postgraduate courses by research don’t have as favourable outcomes, but still beat sole undergrad degrees. Graduates from research degrees achieved 75.1% full time employment on average within four months of graduation, eight percentage points higher than for undergrads (p63). This reached 89.6% three years after graduation, with median salaries starting at $80,000 p/a and reaching $98,000 p/a three years later. 

The results suggest positive outcomes for all graduates, but some admittedly start stronger than others. While those in humanities degrees were met with 63.9% full time employment and a median salary of $80,000 four months within graduation, postgrads in the likes of nursing (96%) and medicine (85.2%) saw higher initial rates of employment. If you’re put-off by this and suspect you may be in an underperforming discipline, fear not! Your compatriots catch up in under three years and reach those six figure median full-time salaries (save for creative arts postgrads, who still end up with a respectable $77,500 p/a!) No matter your cup of tea, the data suggests a postgrad degree makes for a sound investment. 

For an expanded view of these stats, check out this article. 

You’re still in “study mode”

It can be tricky for some to return to study after working for so long. The strange hours. Long nights. Lack of schedule. It can all amount to a fairly bizarre work-life balance. As a student who has either graduated or is about to graduate, postgraduate study can be an even more natural next step than employment. If you’re interested and have the patience for a bit more time in the tank, why not give it a go?

Learning is its own reward

You’ll get personal value out of postgrad. It doesn’t have to be value in the sense your future company can use what you’ve learned, or you feel it’s practical. No, postgrad is your chance to really dive deep into a topic that interests you and either uncover something new or wrack your brains over an existing something until it clicks. It’s a mental work-out that many students find highly fulfilling because they get to tackle exactly their sort of problems. There isn’t any client breathing down your neck asking you to do something you’re not particularly passionate about. This is a chance to not only develop some subject matter expertise and secure quality graduate outcomes, but find fulfilment in something you love. That’s a reason to keep your resume on the shelf for a year or two longer in our book.