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Choosing a masters course

Choosing a masters subjectThere is plenty of advice out there on choosing the right postgraduate course, but once you have decided on your subject area, how do you then narrow it down into the right specialism or even the right type of masters degree? For example, you’re interested in studying a Psychology, but should you study an MA in Psychology or an MSc in Psychology – or what about an MRes in Psychology? Or do you want to specialise in a particular area of Psychology such as a Masters in Child Psychology or Masters in Business Psychology? In this article we will be looking at how to choose the right masters subject and degree for you.

Assess your strengths and weaknesses

To help you choose the right masters degree subject, start by assessing your interests and strengths to identify areas you are most passionate about and excel in. It’s a good idea to align your postgraduate subject choice with your career goals by researching the job market and understanding the demand for advanced qualifications in your field. Does the career you want to go into and progress in require you to get a specific qualification? If this is the case, and your masters qualification needs to be professionally accredited, you need to make sure the masters degree you choose meets with your career requirements.

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Select a specific field of interest

Once you have worked out what subject you want to study, it’s time to narrow it down to the right specialism. Many masters programs have the same title, but if you delve deeper into the course content you may find that that despite having the same name the courses offer very different content. So, you need to refine your course search to ensure you are applying to a masters degree that covers your specific area of interest. For example, if you use’s course finder to search for courses in Economics you can then further refine your search to delve deeper into masters course in various specialisms, such as Building Economics, Business Economics, Economic Development, Health Economics, International Economics, and many more. Also, make sure you consider masters courses that may have a slightly different name but that still cover the content you’re interested in.

Look into lecturers

When deciding what masters degree to study, considering the university lecturer you will study with can also be crucial. The lecturer’s expertise and research interests can significantly influence the focus of the course content and the depth of which certain topics are studied. A lecturer who is a leading researcher in your field of interest can provide valuable insights, cutting-edge knowledge and access to the latest research. They could also provide you with valuable networking opportunities once you have graduated from your masters, potentially connecting you with industry professionals, research opportunities and internships. Additionally, lecturers with a strong publication record and a good reputation in their field can enhance your academic credentials and increase your employability.


Student case studiesCheck student case studies

Student case studies are a great way to find out what it’s really like to study a particular masters course or subject. Case studies provide invaluable insight into how demanding a course is timewise and the intensity of the subject matter. They may also reveal how the topic content of the masters degree is weighted, so you could find out how much of your area of interest is covered in reality.

How do you find the right university?

Finding the right university is very much a personal choice. For example, many UK universities offer masters degrees with similar names, content and modules, but you need to try and identify the one that you will be most successful and happy at. Do you want a rural campus environment or would you prefer to attend a cosmopolitan city university? Factor in the location, as this can affect your living expenses, cultural experiences and networking opportunities. As well as the study environment and location of the campus, consider the reputation of the different universities and their masters programs, paying attention to factors such as rankings, faculty expertise and industry connections. Postgraduate tuition fees can also differ between universities, so work out your budget and what you can afford to spend to study your masters degree.

What study mode is best?

You also need to work out whether you are going to study your masters degree subject full time, part time, online or via blended learning. Be realistic about what you can commit to timewise and cost-wise when choosing your study mode. Part-time courses give you a longer period of time to spread out the costs of the tuition fees, and also give you the time to do some paid work whilst studying your masters degree. Online courses and blended-learning programs often have more reasonably priced tuition fees. However full-time masters are completed quicker thereby enabling you to start your new career (and potentially higher salary) earlier. When looking into what masters course to study, add a filter on the course-search facility to further refine your search into seeing what’s available in your chosen study mode.

Making the right choice

If you follow our structured approach to choosing your masters degree you should be able to narrow your selection down to three or four courses. When applying for a masters degree in the UK, applications are usually made directly to the universities, so it is generally recommended not to apply for more than five different courses, as each application will take a long time to do as they will each need to include a personal statement that is tailored to the specific course and university. Of course, you don’t have to apply for five, you could decide to just go for one, but it is usually a good idea to have a few options. And remember, if you are a Chevening applicant, you will need to apply to three eligible courses – you can use the Chevening ‘Find a course’ search tool to select masters programs that are eligible for a Chevening Scholarship

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