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When to think about postgraduate study

When to apply for postgraduate study

Uni life
Published 5 May, 2022  ·  5-minute read

It’s a question that plagues undergraduates all over the world as they approach their graduation day. Should I do a postgraduate program? And when should I start thinking about it?

The answer is as soon as possible, according to current Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing student, Jessica Rowen. We chat with Jessica about her journey to postgraduate study.

What was your experience of applying to postgraduate studies?

When I was in my final semester of my bachelor’s degree, I had no idea what the next step would be. My lack of knowledge about postgraduate options or any sort of forward thinking about my future cost me dearly. I hadn’t truly considered what comes after an undergraduate degree, at least not for myself. So, when I finished my undergraduate degree, I soon after moved abroad and took a job in public relations, only to return home in the early days of the pandemic, now unsure what I was going to do.

By the time I realised I wanted to return to do a master’s, I had missed the enrolment date by mere days. I was devastated, and my lack of direction was made worse by the uncertain pandemic times. I had to wait another 6 months before I could apply for the next semester.

But amidst all the chaos of the world at this time and my own uncertainty, there was a silver lining to all my waiting. In those 6 months, I had ample time to consider my options and the future, what I wanted to achieve, and how I wanted to achieve it – everything I hadn’t let myself think on after graduation. I realised postgraduate study truly was the best choice for me because I wanted to pivot from my undergraduate Bachelor of Arts and learn specialised knowledge about the publishing industry by doing a Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing.

My time abroad hadn’t been for naught either. I had worked hard and accepted that, because of circumstances far from my control, I could redirect my talents.

As a result, when I finally started my master’s, I was ready to give it my all and work towards something I was passionate about.

“I only wish I had known sooner that a master’s degree or a graduate certificate or diploma was a viable option for me. If I had known, I would’ve spent that final semester content in my choices and armed for the future. Instead, I am embarrassed to say I meandered through those final weeks worried and anxious. There were infinite possibilities within my reach, and I didn’t even know they existed.”

"For a lot of people, myself included, a master's degree is a great choice to promote personal growth. My time at UQ has made me the person I am today." - Jessica Rowen

What advice would you give to a future postgrad?

There is a definite lesson to be learned from my mistakes. When you’re nearing the end of your undergraduate program, really sit down and be honest with yourself about what you want to do, and figure out what you need to do to make that happen. Ask yourself: what should I do after graduation?

When should you start thinking about postgraduate study? The answer is simple – during your final semester of undergrad. During this time, you’ll have a better idea of where you want to go and what you’re ready for. No one else can make that decision for you and only you will know what you want to do.

For instance, if you’re unsure about graduating and then going straight into the workforce or feel discontent in your field by the time of graduation, postgraduate study offers a chance to redirect without returning to a bachelor’s degree. I knew I didn’t want to dedicate another 4 years to a degree that wouldn’t teach me the specialised skills that a master’s or a graduate certificate would, and I knew I was ready for that next step. But ultimately it is only a decision you can make for yourself.

Returning home in the early days of the pandemic felt trialling at first. But with time I realised that returning to study helped me immensely during this time. Now, as I near my next graduation, I don’t feel the same worry or anxiety as before. I know that the skills I’ve learnt at UQ gave me a real-world insight. 

What grades do I need to get into postgraduate study?

This is dependent on your course content. You may have specific work experience that can count toward your enrolment, or you may need to provide a portfolio of content. I recommend you investigate the specific requirements of your course as soon as you decide and factor this time spent applying into your schedule.

Jessica Rowen

How many units is a master’s degree?

Master’s degrees range from 16-unit to 24-unit programs, with individual courses usually being 2 units each. This means that by doing only 8 to 12 subjects at your own pace, you’re earning a new qualification. For perspective, a bachelor’s degree is 48 units taken over the course of 3 to 4 years. A master’s degree is less than half of this.

“For a lot of people, myself included, a master’s degree is a great choice to promote personal growth. My time at UQ, both for my undergraduate and postgraduate study, has made me the person I am today.”

So, when to apply for postgraduate study?

At UQ, enrolment dates are non-negotiable, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Take note of the important dates well ahead of time. Keep a diary or calendar and set yourself a realistic time frame to apply for a postgraduate degree.

Important dates for enrolment at UQ generally follow each semester. For the first semester of each year, the end of January is usually the final date to enrol. For second semester, the end of June is usually the final chance for enrolment. I recommend submitting your application as soon as you’re certain it’s what you want to commit to.

Remember: you can always withdraw if something comes up, but you can’t enrol after the cut-off date.

Cut-off dates are subject to change and you should always consult the UQ Academic Calendar each year. Regardless, if you consider it in your final semester of undergrad, you can apply before these dates and save yourself a world of worry.

When you apply to your postgraduate course, it shouldn’t be a worrying experience; it should be an exciting one.

Ready to start your postgraduate journey? Discover your next steps.

Jessica Rowen
Jessica Rowen
UQ Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing

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