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Postgraduate Certificate Vs Masters: What’s the Difference?

More Americans have a Bachelor’s degree than ever before. The Census Bureau reported that the past decade has seen a 5% increase in Americans with a bachelor’s degree.

With more graduates comes more competition for jobs. If you have a bachelor’s degree, how can you make yourself stand out from the competition?

One way is by pursuing post-graduate credentials. This additional designation on your resume could land you a better paying job, a promotion or increased prospects for work abroad.

But what’s the difference between a postgraduate certificate vs a master’s degree?

Read on and we’ll explain the difference and benefits of each so you can make an informed decision about your best next step.

Postgraduate Certificate vs Master’s Degree

Both a postgrad certificate and a Master’s require a Bachelor’s degree. They both are learning tools to help students develop practical skills in a specific field.

Both are good options for career progression that can make your resume stand out from the competition.

There are differences to each. Which one you choose will depend on your industry and career plans. And how much time you want to spend.

Postgraduate Certificate

A postgraduate certificate is sometimes called a professional certificate. It provides students with advanced skills in a specific area of specialization.

For example, paralegals are required to earn a postgraduate certificate. Medical professionals pursue a certificate in clinical pathology to update their knowledge.

Some who apply for a postgraduate certificate are interested in exploring a new field, without having to commit to a Master’s degree.

A postgraduate certificate vs master’s focuses on a few, specialized areas and not a broad industry. This means that students need to have a clear idea of what sector they want to work in as the certificate is likely not expansive.

Postgraduate certificates can take from a few weeks to one or two years to complete. Get more info on what to look for in certifcation courses.

Postgraduate certificates are not necessarily in the same subject as students’ Bachelor’s degree. Post-graduate certificates can be in the student’s area of choice.

Benefits of a Postgraduate Certificate

There are several reasons you might consider a postgraduate certificate vs a master’s.

Financially, a postgraduate certificate vs a master’s degree is less expensive. The reason for this is that you will only take a handful of courses. These courses target a specific field, not a whole industry.

This certification helps you acquire the skills you need quickly.

You Should Choose a Postgraduate Certificate If…

You want to get your qualification quickly. Be mindful that with shorter courses, you will undergo an intensive period of studying. Find out what specific times during the day your brain is in acquisition mode for optimal retention.

If you are looking for career progression a postgraduate certificate vs master’s might be your best bet. These certificates are great tools to expand your skillset in your current role.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money. On average, a postgraduate certificate vs a masters is nearly half the price.

Take time to research the specific certificates you are interested in to make an educated decision.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is an academic degree granted by a university. Graduates gain an advanced understanding of theoretical and applied topics. Plus a range of transferable and professional skills gained through independent research.

Master’s degrees typically take one to three years to complete and can be done either full-time or part-time. It can take 30 to 64 credits in the US to complete.

Most will require a thesis or dissertation by the end. Some will require you to successfully defend your thesis in order to pass.

Benefits of a Master’s Degree

Well, it’s a degree! Degrees tend to carry more prestige and a better reputation.

Master’s degrees typically fall into the category of Master of Arts, Master of Science, or Master of Business Administration.

Postgraduate certificates vs Master’s tend to be more specific. So if you want breadth, a Master’s might be your best bet.

Check out our list of top graduate degrees that are worth the investment.

You Should Study a Masters If…

You Want to Study a Ph.D. If you are considering a doctorate level study, a Master’s is required.

If you have a year or more to dedicate to pursuing this degree. Master’s tend to take at least a year to complete, (more if you study it part-time).

If you want a similar experience to your bachelor’s degree. You’ll sit in lectures and seminars and write a dissertation. A Master’s is basically a more intense version of your undergraduate program.

If you want to stay in academia professionally, a Master’s is a great way to explore that option. If you love research, during your Master’s is the time to explore possible job options and add your supervisor’s contacts to your network.

You want postgraduate funding. There are many ways to get funding for a Master’s degree. This includes studentships, research grants, bursaries, and scholarships.

The studentship program pays students in a teaching or research role. They may be funded by the university department or your supervisor’s research budget.

Research grants are available from a variety of sources. For example, big corporations that are interested in the findings of research in your field.

Some people are able to pay for their Master’s degree wholly from external funding. If cost is your only deterrent, definitely consider how to get funding for your degree.

Final Thoughts on Postgraduate Certificate vs Master’s

Before you enroll in a graduate certification or commit to a master’s degree, consider your end goal.

Are you happy with your career track? Will an additional certification increase your value to your organization? Or does a promotion feel unlikely because other candidates hold a Master’s?

Do your research. Decide which option best fits with your long-term career goals.

Whatever you decide, you will be investing in your personal development. This is a huge benefit for your personal and professional life. You’ll develop time management, researching, presentation and writing skills that will reap huge rewards.