Before going on the discussion for managing the postgraduate study program it's important to understand what the postgraduate is. After the Bachelor's degree, the Master's or doctoral degree, or a postgraduate diploma or certificate taken up for higher studies are part of postgraduate program. The level of difficulty of the postgraduate study program depends upon the subject or research work taken and the kind of exposure possessed for the field of study.
In the highly competitive professional environment where everyone is weigh on its competence, aptitude, skills and most importantly academic qualification (Rudd, 1984). Deciding on for the postgraduate study plan, when you are professionally over burdened and trying hard to balance between your personal life and work life is a tough job. You can't merely ignore the importance of postgraduate studies because you are rigorously committed elsewhere. The right balance between the work life, personal like and studies can be achieved with proper planning, scheduling the daily routine efficiently and managing time prudently (University of Melbourne).
When we talk about the Masters Degree program, we come across various degree titles prefixing the degree program adopted. Some of the Masters Programs are MBA-Masters of Business Administration, MA-Masters of Arts, M.SC-Masters of Science, LLM-Masters of Laws, M.Psych-Masters of Psychology and M.Phil-Masters of Philosophy. Besides these you may also come across other Master Degree programs depending on the field of study you choose. The duration of the masters program after the under graduation is usually one year for the full time students and two years for the part time students and may be extended depending on the research work required. Along with the compulsion of credit hours to be completed, students are also required to work on the research paper independently under the supervision of an instructor (Britton, & Tesser, 1991). Students will be awarded degree when they have successfully completed all the criteria of research paper.
Statistics of a leading university. University of Cambridge shows data for the academic year of course entry 2009-10 for UK, EU and overseas.
Table 1: Statistics on Course Entry (Source: course information and statistics, University of Cambridge)
The research paper is designed to cover thorough and systematic investigation of the subject matter with well defined hypothesis and its testing adopted with proper research methodology. Many students startup their research studies with the objective of upgrading their postgraduate studies to the PhD level. Under such scenario students instead of being awarded with the masters degree graduates themselves to the high level of PhD program. PhD program is actually the highest level of academic qualification and this title is used for wide range of subjects and field of study (Braddock, Fien, & Rickson, 1994). The duration of this program is of three years minimum with the outcome of thesis which is actually an addition in the field of study chosen and is of high standards of knowledge fulfilling all the criteria of systematic research study. It's advanced than the Masters Research paper as it requires high level of investigation and addition of new concept in the field of study (Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin, & Means, 2000).
Postgraduate diplomas and certificates are another form of postgraduate studies. These are taken up to build on the professional qualification like Graduate Diploma in Law, Diploma Certificate in IT, Banking Diploma etc. (Mellar, & Jackson, 1992). The duration of these certificate program is one year for full time students and two years for the part time followed by the seminars, lecture programs, course works and assessments. These certificate programs can be modified to Masters Program once the student has successfully done the thesis.
Rationale to go for Postgraduate study program
When deciding for the postgraduate study program, students must have clear picture in their mind why are they opting for this program. It is very important for the successful completion of the postgraduate study. There are many reasons to decide on for postgraduate program and some of them are listed below:
1. Your interest in the field of study. This may be building on with the professional experience and expertise you possess for certain subject and lured you to go for a postgraduate program in that specific field. Your undergraduate program has also enabled to build interest for some specific field of study.
2. Some careers like doctors, teaching, law etc. demands a postgraduate study. Therefore for a career move you can decide on for getting your time, money and other resources involved in the postgraduate program. Many of the old staff in an organization undergoes master's level studies or a certificate diploma courses to have a salary raise since their company is offering higher salaries to employees with advanced level of qualification.
3. Many professionals take up the postgraduate study program to have a career move or shift. Specializing in certain field of study can ease their entrance in the new profession. Though it will be difficult for them in the initial phase but will be beneficial in long-run.
4. Many of the students go for higher level of studies because their instructors have recommended them to do so. Likewise many of the professionals go for higher studies because their supervisors have recommended doing it. No matter what is the motive behind it is, but the personal commitment and motivation counts most in its success.
Selecting for suitable Institute
Postgraduate studies have now become an international concern. Students are intensively traveling across their home countries in search of the best institute that offers best course for their field of interest and also that institute has international recognition. Therefore when selecting for the most suitable institute students most take into account the subjects being offered by the university or the institute you are going for. Checking the curriculum, consulting the lecturers and going through the reading material will be appropriate measures to be adopted. Besides the course content you also need to check the institution's market position in the subject you have selected. Is it well-known for it? Is it their specialty? If the institution shows positive result in it then it's beneficial to go for it.
If a specific lecturer is known for the subject of your interest and you have selected the institute due to the presence of that lecturer in that institute, then you need to make sure that lecturer still teaches in that group. Teachers especially the visiting faculty is in habit of switching institutes and assigning their job to junior colleges. You need to assure the capabilities and competencies of these research groups. When making decision for post graduate studies, deciding on the time and resources if not enough financial matter also play a prominent role. Post graduation studies are expensive and if you can't afford then you need to make sure the funding is available through internal and external sponsors of the institute, extend to which funding is available, will be able to get alternative sources of income to finance your studies like teaching juniors or tutorials or being lecturer's assistant or doing any on campus job and what level of funding is available for addition course work like research, projects etc.
Besides researching for the institute infrastructure the overall success of the postgraduate study program depends on all the combined issues from academic to personal and professional (Holmbeck, Li, Schurman, Friedman, & Coakley, 2002). The necessary skills required for the successful completion are reading skills for postgraduate study, academic judgment that involves analysis of evidences and presenting your findings in convincing manner.
Making Successful Application Forms
When applying for the postgraduate study program, the thing which counts the most is your application form that shows your interest in the field of study and your future goals towards it (Sinclair 2004). There are many cases of dropout students from middle of the session and university will definitely wouldn't like that to happen as it effects their reputation, revenue generation and resource over utilization. Therefore the first impression that a student makes is through his or her application form showing their commitment and seriousness towards studies.
To have successful consideration for the postgraduate program students need to focus on the following points while filling out their application forms:
1. Build connection between your goals and subjects you choose to study. This will depict your aspirations, professional background and future plans for the field of study you choose.
2. Be focus and determined. Student's goals, objectives and future endeavors should be clearly defined in their minds and are concisely scripted in the personal statement. Students weak in this area have a lower probability of getting into the postgraduate program…