Learning is a lifelong journey. Graduating from college and getting a first job might be the end goal for some, but many would consider pursuing postgraduate studies sometime in their working life. It is the natural next step towards broadening skillsets and career advancement. The changes in our economy and businesses, constantly being disrupted by new business models and technological advances mean there is a need to invest in your own learning.
There are many factors to consider in selecting the right combination of university, programme/discipline and location when it comes to pursuing postgraduate studies. To help you make the right decision, here are 3 important things to consider when looking for a Master’s degree:
1. What are your goals?
Right off the bat, you must be sure of your objectives in pursuing a graduate education. You may consider a graduate degree that allows you to gain deeper expertise on a particular subject matter. Or you may be looking for ways to broaden your knowledge through an MBA-type programme. This means you will need to invest some time in researching and figuring out your career goals. If you are unsure, it would probably be best to decide on your goals before deciding to apply for just any programme for the sake of getting a degree.
Check out the courses in your target field or specialization. Will you be interested to take them? Will these help you progress at work or in your current profession? Many programmes may sound alike, but there are differences in curriculum and approach at different universities.
There are programmes that help you gain new deep knowledge in specific disciplines, and there are also broad-based programmes that will help you be a more well-rounded professionals. For example, a Masters in Management or MBA would help you broaden your breadth of skillsets and knowledge. But if specialization is what you are after, in depth programmes in accounting, finance, economics or information technology may be more suitable for your goals.
Graduate school will not be as easy as your undergraduate education—it will entail you to give up some time from work to attend school. The required course units will be less as Masters courses are shorter than undergraduate programmes. However they demand a higher intensity and require significant commitment, and often, sacrifice in terms of opportunity costs, financing and time away from home or loved ones. This is why figuring out your goals is a very important first step in your journey to a postgraduate degree.
2. Where do you want to go?
For many, beyond learning goals, there may be other aspirational objectives as well. This may include the desire to study overseas. Studying overseas opens your eyes to other cultures, taste the joy (and responsibilities) of living away from home, expand your circle of network considerably and perhaps even open doors to employment prospects and opportunities.
If you think studying overseas is an option for you, and that you have the financial means to do so, where would you go?
The big destinations, such as USA, Australia, UK and Europe, have their own attractions. But you may want to take into account some international student mobility megatrends noted by ICEF in its 2016 report. Asian higher education systems are steadily strengthening and are more affordable (both tuition fees and living costs). Students all over the world are adding Asian destinations to their list of destination options.
In Asia, Singapore is natural place to consider. Known for its business-friendly international outlook, along for reputation for being a modern, cosmopolitan yet peaceful, safe and clean city/country. As a gateway to and from Asia, Singapore offers the best of “east and west”. Many corporate headquarters are located in Singapore, and this means higher market demands which usually translate to more career prospects and opportunities.
3. Which University?
Deciding on the right university is another important aspect to consider. For some, it is an automatic choice because of prior affiliations or connections. It may have been recommended by someone you know, or perhaps you have seen how trailblazing and impressive their alumni are.
For others, they have to figure out how “good” a university is. It can be confusing because there are so many data points that you can look at. Is it overall university ranking? Is it specific discipline or programme ranking? Or it could be teaching quality, graduate employment rate, or any other indicators?
Rankings are good proxies, but to really know ranking, you need to spend time understanding them. If it is an overall ranking of universities, you would expect the big, large, comprehensive universities to dominate. Specialised universities will be lagging behind because they just don’t have the same scale as the comprehensive ones.
Discipline and programme rankings are fairer in some way, because they compare like to like. This is why the MBA ranking of a specialised university may be much higher than the MBA ranking of a comprehensive university.
Find out what the University is doing differently than others. Focus on the University’s efforts in developing their students through innovative curriculum and teaching pedagogy. What kind of career support, professional development and networking opportunities will you get? What kind of campus vibe will you be immersed in?
There could be many more other questions of interest to you personally. Check out their website and social media accounts. Write or talk to their admission officers, and ask all that you want to know about the University and programme. After all, once you are a graduate, the university where you studied will be your alma mater for life!
Singapore Management University
Singapore Management University (SMU) is a specialist university, internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. SMU’s education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative and project-based approach to learning. SMU’s city campus is a modern facility located in the heart of downtown Singapore, fostering strategic linkages with business, government and the wider community.
SMU is the only university in Singapore with AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA accreditation. Many of its 20 postgraduate programmes are ranked by Financial Times and QS. SMU students also have the opportunity to learn beyond their discipline for their holistic development. SMU’s Postgraduate Career Service Office help our students secure internship and job opportunities. SMU graduates are actively recruited not only by employers at all levels of government, but also by financial institutions, think tanks and research institutions, international agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations.
Discover your potential at SMU Masters Day on Saturday, 30 Mar 2019 at our city campus in Singapore. Click here to reserve your seat now.
For more information about SMU Masters programs, visit www.smu.edu.sg/masters. INQUIRER.net BrandRoom/FE