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What is a Masters degree and 5 reasons to study one

Let's unpack why you should study a masters

Do you ever find yourself pondering how you can progress in your career, or perhaps how you can change career direction? Maybe you’re wondering which level of study you may need to achieve to get that dream career, that salary goal, or the personal learning satisfaction you’ve been craving. A masters qualification may be the perfect learning experience that allows you to extend your knowledge and excel in your career path. So first thing’s first...

Let’s start with unpacking the commonly asked question: 

What is a masters degree?

A masters degree, just like our diplomas, certificates, bachelor and Doctor of Philosophy is an academic degree awarded by universities. It is at the postgraduate level, meaning to enter into a masters you either need to have a degree, or a certain amount of work-experience to get started. A masters degree usually takes one to two years to finish with either part-time or full-time study.

You can read a lot more about each of the masters degrees we offer on our comprehensive list of study options. In summary, you can either study a masters degree in coursework or research:

1. Masters (coursework)

A coursework masters could be the right fit for you if you want to build upon existing expertise or gain knowledge in a new discipline. This is the most common type of masters and is a combination of coursework, project work and research.

To find out what you need to get started in a coursework masters, it’s best to view the information relevant to your chosen degree, but generally the following are the entry requirements:

  • Bachelor degree in a relevant discipline  
    or
  • Bachelor degree in non-relevant discipline plus a USQ graduate certificate 
    or
  • USQ graduate certificate  
    (Relevant professional work experience may also be required) 

2. Masters (research)

A research masters (or Master of Research at USQ) is more of what the name implies – research. This degree will include a substantial thesis or research project, often externally assessed. It is a good option if you want to make a contribution to the development of new knowledge through the completion of industry-relevant, independent research projects.

To enter into a masters (research) you will need:

  • Bachelor degree in a relevant discipline with the minimum GPA of 5.0 honours
    or
  • Other postgraduate qualifications  
    (Relevant professional work experience may also be required)

Both ways of gaining your masters degree are rewarding and just as likely to assist you in progressing in your career, or launching into the job change you’ve been considering. If you need more information than what you’re reading online, our friendly team of degree experts are ready to take your call, email or live-chat with you

When to study a masters degree

The short answer – anytime! There are a couple of technicalities when it comes to entry requirements but other than that, it's never too late to get started with a masters degree. You can get into a masters right after a bachelors degree if your hunger for learning is there, or perhaps it could be years into your career and you decide you want to upskill or have a career change. Plenty of students at USQ complete their masters degree while working full time too.

Take USQ graduate Daniel for example. Daniel really wanted to progress his career but found that he was unable to without a postgraduate degree. By blending two of his areas of interest in Project Management and Business Administration he was able to do this and gain the competitive edge.

In terms of timing and the technicalities, usually a masters degree requires you to either hold a bachelor degree, or a certain amount of work experience to get started. Let’s take the Masters of Science for example – to enter you either need a 3-year bachelor degree or equivalent, or equivalent professional work experience (as determined by the Credit and Exemption procedure at USQ, but we don’t need to go into that now! If you did want to read more, be sure to visit the webpage relevant to the masters you’re interested in).

Which masters degree should I do

The answer to this question really depends on your interests and the circumstances in your life. It depends on where you see your career headed, or what career you want to get started in, whether you want to add skills to your existing capabilities, or take a completely different direction. A good place to start is browsing our postgraduate study info and we’ve got a dedicated team of staff waiting to take your call, respond to your email or message back on live chat. As a snapshot, following are the study areas within which we offer masters degrees: 

Is a masters degree worth it Australia?

Of course it is! Your promotion or dream job is definitely worth the time it will take for you to complete your postgraduate study. It’s easy to make excuses and keep putting it off, but you deserve to spend the time following your passion and succeeding in your professional life. With a postgraduate degree, you will have the tools to succeed in your dream career.

5 reasons to study a masters degree

1. There is no time like now

You may often here people say ‘but a masters degree is another 2 years of study’ Our thought in response is yes it is, and those two years are going to tick by regardless, so why not make the most of your time, complete some study and open a world of opportunity. There is no doubt that studying a masters degree and working full-time would make life busy for example, but the answer to the question, ‘can I work fulltime while doing a master degree’ is certainly ‘yes’. Like anything though, it does takes planning, organisation and commitment but the good news is that we’ve got a whole team that is dedicated to ensuring you feel as supported as possible to make your study journey that bit easier. Our iconnect service concierges are trained to help answer your questions and work closely with your Student Relationship Officers, Faculty staff, ICT, Library staff and many others to make sure you have the answer you needed.

2. Increasing your pay packet

Of course it depends on what industry you're in and certain circumstances but there is  a possibility of a higher pay bracket when you have masters qualifications. According to the 2022 Good Universities Guide, the USQ undergraduate median graduate salary is $70,000, and the USQ postgraduate median graduate salary is $90,000. So, if it's an increase in salary earnings that is motivating you to perhaps enrol in your masters (and you’ve been wondering ‘how much should a masters degree increase your salary’) there is evidence to suggest it would be worth it! Following are a few more figures from the 2022 Good Universities Guide:

  • USQ undergraduate median graduate salary in Business and Management - $65,000
  • USQ postgraduate median graduate salary in Business and Management - $114,000
  • USQ undergraduate median graduate salary in Health - $61,800
  • USQ postgraduate median graduate salary in Health - $100,100
  • USQ undergraduate median graduate salary in Engineering - $85,400
  • USQ postgraduate median graduate salary in Engineering - $102,500

3. Benefit from the connections you make

As the saying goes, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ – and whilst at USQ, we obviously focus on ensuring you know all there is in your chosen degree, there is a lot of truth in benefiting from the people you meet and the connections you make. Not only will you be connected with like-minded peers, all driven to specialise in their chosen area and excel in their careers, but you’ll also be connected to renowned academics and professionals committed to ensuring your learning journey is the best it can be.

4. A stepping-stone to further study

If you’re driven to pursue further study, then a masters is a perfect way to excel along the path to a doctorate or PhD degree.

Take Adam’s story for example. Adam decided to take the next step in his career after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science. Now studying a Master of Public Health, Adam is pursuing his goal to complete a PhD examining how we can improve the health of school teachers.

5. You're capable of so much

Postgraduate study can seem like such a leap from your undergraduate degree, but you’re actually more prepared than you think and you truly are capable of so much! We will help you succeed in your studies by building in subjects to help refresh important academic skills and make sure you can do the best you possibly can. Your industry experience will come in handy with your assessments and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to use your new skills in your workplace.

You’ve already got the skills to prioritise and manage your time with your family and work commitments. Use a calendar/diary/phone to map a normal day and look for opportunities to fit in study. 30 minutes before you get ready for work and your hour lunch break equal time to pursue your passion and follow your career aspirations. The time spent away from your family will be worth it when they see you cross the stage at graduation. You’ve already got an incredible support network, you can do this!

So, what is next?

If you’ve been considering enrolling in a masters degree but just not sure about the logistics involved or the best option for you, then remember we’ve got a wonderful team of experts ready to talk, email or live chat with you today. Go on, what are you waiting for!