Postgraduate study is an exciting prospect. It opens the door to a range of new opportunities, but it isn’t without its challenges. Here are four questions to ask yourself before you take the leap.
Why do I want to do this?
Time for some introspection: why do you want to undertake postgraduate study? While there is no right or wrong answer, understanding your motivations is essential to ensuring you make choices that will support your ultimate goal.
Do you want to take your current career to the next level, explore an interest, pursue a new career path, gain a specialisation, or something else? Postgraduate study is a commitment, and it requires dedication to complete – understanding your motivations will keep you driven through the tough times and help you succeed.
Do I have the time?
It goes without saying – it takes time to complete a postgraduate degree. You need to participate in classes, study for exams, and complete assessments. And the time you dedicate to your postgraduate degree likely means time away from something else – such as work, hobbies, family or friends.
The good news is that lots of postgraduate degrees are designed for busy lifestyles, and offer plenty of flexible options, such as weekend intensives or online classes. You’ll also have the option to study full-time or part-time. Make sure you chat to your boss if you’re thinking about postgraduate study – they may be willing to support you by offering time off for exams, or allowing you to shift your work hours around university classes.
Can I afford it?
As a university student you'll need to consider a range of expenses, such as books, fees and study supplies. But you'll find plenty of support, and you won’t necessarily have to pay everything upfront.
In terms of your tuition fees, postgraduate programs are offered as either Commonwealth supported places (CSP) or full fee-paying enrolment places. A Commonwealth supported place is subsidised by the government, and you make a contribution to the cost of tuition. In a full fee-paying place, you pay the total tuition fee.
There are a range of financial support options to consider:
Government loans: CSP students may be able to access HECS-HELP, and full fee fee-paying students may be eligible for assistance through FEE-HELP, a loan scheme that helps eligible students pay all or part of their tuition fees.
Government financial support: Check out programs like SA-HELP, ABSTUDY and Austudy to see if you’re eligible for financial assistance.
Scholarships: Universities and governments offer a huge range of scholarships that can help cover tuition fees and expenses Explore ACU’s scholarships.
Employer contributions: If your study is to meet employer requirements, or will make you more effective in the workplace, your employer may help cover a percentage of your course fees.
Will this help me reach my goals?
There are many benefits to postgraduate study. Obtaining a postgraduate qualification can provide you with a competitive edge over other candidates, improve your earning potential, qualify you for new a career, or even give you the skills you need to enter research or academia.
Take a close look at the courses you’re considering. Look into the units, accreditations, and professional associations. If you’re seeking to advance or change your career, talk to career agencies, postgraduate experts and employers in your chosen field to find out exactly what they are looking for. Doing your research upfront will make sure the course you choose is the right one for achieving your goals.
Ready to take the next step towards postgraduate study?