IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A COURSE FOR MASTER’S STUDY
The journey of graduate study is one that requires a lot of careful consideration, from the planning stage to the execution stage. Many prospective scholars sometimes find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to the aspect of choosing a course, and due to inexperience and inadequate information at their disposal, they often make the wrong choice.
There are however some very important things to take note of during course selection and they are explained below:
1. Interests: The most fundamental thing to consider would be the areas, aspects or spheres of knowledge that you are naturally drawn/inclined to. What do you like to do? Which problems would you like to solve? Which knowledge gaps are you hoping to fill? Sometimes, proper self-reflection might even lead you to a realization that you are not interested in further study, enabling you to make a decision with enough foresight to prevent time wasting and career frustration in the future. Providing honest answers to these questions is the first step to gaining insight about which course to study.
2. Academic background/strengths: Your areas of intellectual strength as well as your academic background is another important factor to consider when choosing a course for master’s study. Naturally, there are some individuals that would prefer a master’s degree in a field of knowledge totally different from their undergraduate majors, probably due to their work/career interests. In other situations though, it is usually in your best interest to select courses that play to your academic strengths. Having a background in similar fields usually allows for easier adjustment into higher levels of learning, as opposed to getting thrown into a totally different field from what you are used to.
3. Course structure: Another factor to put into consideration is the course structure. Some master’s degrees (taught masters) are structured in a manner similar to undergraduate learning which involves teaching, seminars, webinars, workshops, etc., involving a lot of supervision from lecturers and professors. Others are research-based master’s degrees involving a lot of independent learning by the students. Also, some courses are structured to be taught on a full-time basis, others are taught part-time. It is thus important to take note of which learning process is best suited to you in order to make an informed choice.
4. Duration: The time it would take to complete a master’s degree is an important factor to consider. Asides the obvious reason that you would need to know exactly what you are committing to and for how long, the time taken to complete a master’s degree is sometimes used as a criterion in some parts of the world to measure the relevance of the degree. Hence, it is important to consider this and also prepare yourself mentally for the number of years it would take to complete the degree.
5. Cost: This is probably one of the most important things to consider when choosing a course for master’s study. This knowledge is necessary in order to assess the feasibility of your plans to study and prepare financially either by saving up or seeking scholarships or tuition waivers/reductions to support your studies.
6. Location: The location of your studies is just as important as the course you choose to study. Some universities/countries are better suited to teach some courses than others due in part to the facilities (laboratories, techniques, technologies, etc.) they possess or their staff strength and expertise. It is important to look out for such geographical locations during the selection process.
7. Future prospects: Determining what you would like to do in the future can make a big difference in your choice of course for a master’s degree. Are you interested in research? Would you like to be involved in training the next generation of students/researchers? Are you more interested in the industry rather than academia? Making a decision on such important career questions would most likely put you on the path to choosing the course best suited to you for your master’s degree.
8. Eligibility: This factor is often overlooked by prospective master’s students. It is usually very important to familiarise yourself with the requirements for a particular course and determine your eligibility for it. Some course requirements usually clearly state that the course is not available to be taught to non-nationals of the country in which the university is located, other courses would require you to have prior knowledge of a concept or a preparatory course without which there might be difficulty in progressing with the course of choice. It is always important to take these things into careful consideration.
9. Language: It is imperative to look out for the language in which a particular course is being taught and ensure that it is the same as your first language (or a language you can effectively communicate in). This is necessary to prevent communication barriers between yourself and your professors and peers, as well as to make the learning process generally effective and result-oriented.
We wish you all the best in your course selection and admission process.
*References are available on request