What is a Postgraduate?
A postgraduate is a student who has successfully completed an undergraduate degree level course at a college or university and is undertaking further study at a more advanced level.
What is a Postgraduate Course?
A postgraduate course is typically one year’s duration full time or it can take two years to complete part-time. A postgraduate diploma, postgraduate degree or Master’s degree offers the student an advanced level of education in their chosen area of study.
The course content is designed to build on the knowledge obtained at the undergraduate degree level. Often the course content is more practical in nature to better prepare the student with the skills they will need in the workplace. Completing postgraduate studies helps students further their career prospects and deepen their understanding of their area of study.
These are sometimes placed in a further hierarchy, starting with degrees such as the Master of Arts (from Latin Magister artium; M.A.) and Master of Science (from Latin Magister scientiæ; M.Sc.) degrees, then the Master of Philosophy degree (from Latin Magister philosophiæ; M.Phil.), and finally the Master of Letters degree (from Latin Magister litterarum; M.Litt.) (all formerly known in France as DEA or DESS before 2005, and nowadays Masters too). In the UK, master’s degrees may be taught or by research: taught master’s degrees include the Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees which last one year and are worth 180 CATS credits (equivalent to 90 ECTS European credits), whereas the master’s degrees by research include the Master of Research degree (M.Res.) which also lasts one year and is worth 180 CATS or 90 ECTS credits (the difference compared to the Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees being that the research is much more extensive) and the Master of Philosophy degree which lasts two years. In Scottish Universities, the Master of Philosophy degree tends to be by research or higher master’s degree and the Master of Letters degree tends to be the taught or lower master’s degree. In many fields such as clinical social work, or library science in North America, a master’s is the terminal degree. Professional degrees such as the Master of Architecture degree (M.Arch.) can last to three and a half years to satisfy professional requirements to be an architect. Professional degrees such as the Master of Business Administration degree (M.B.A.) can last up to two years to satisfy the requirement to become a knowledgeable business leader.
Types of postgraduate degrees:
Programmes are divided into coursework-based and research-based degrees. Coursework programs typically include qualifications.
- Graduate Certificate, six-month full-time coursework.
- Graduate Diploma, twelve-month full-time coursework.
- Masters (of Arts, Science or other disciplines), twelve to 24 months coursework sometimes including a six-month dissertation like the Australian undergraduate honors degree.
- Professional Doctorates, which are usually more strenuous and of a longer duration than a master’s degree, e.g. 36 months in duration.
Research degrees generally consist of either Masters or Doctorate programs. In some disciplines it is acceptable to go straight from the undergraduate degree into a Ph.D. program if one achieves a very good Honors degree (see Admissions below), and in others, it may be encouraged or expected or simply advantageous in varying amounts for the student to first undertake a research Masters before applying to Ph.D. programs. Research master’s degrees may be still called an M.A. or M.Sc., like a coursework Masters, or may have a special appellation, e.g. M.Phil. Doctorate programs may lead to the award of a Ph.D. or a D.Phil. depending on the university or faculty.