The Financial Express

Master's degree: Now or later?

| Updated: April 17, 2019 21:54:21

Master's degree: Now or later?

As people draw the finishing line on their undergrad education, a tough time awaits them. A myriad of important decisions needs to be taken, and one is often faced with multiple options. Among the numerous options, one very crucial decision can be whether to enter the workforce right away and gain practical experience or to hone oneself even more through a graduate degree before finally stepping into a job. This write-up attempts to measure up the pros and cons of an immediate master's degree after bachelor’s versus a delayed one.

Why go for an immediate master's?

Going for a master's degree immediately after your bachelor’s poses some clear, attractive benefits. Firstly, because the student is already accustomed to a school routine and study habits. This may seem like an extension of the bachelor’s. Secondly, just after finishing bachelor’s, a student's knowledge of the subject matter is still anew and ready to be further cultivated. Thirdly, pursuing a master's degree often gives one time to explore oneself, explore one's options and maybe even  explore other countries.

However, many of the drawbacks of an immediate master's experience are actually what makes delayed master's a preferable option too many.

Why delay

One benefit of a delayed master's is that it gives one time to understand his/her skills, aptitudes and likings. It enables one to figure out  desired career path, the job that one has a knack for and gives one personal satisfaction. This might sound very cliché but focusing on one's personality and individual strengths while selecting a field for master's is a crucial decision because a master's degree might bring a short term result, but it is a long term investment of both  time and money. Hence, the most significant merit of a delayed master's is the time to "know thyself".

Secondly, a delayed master's is beneficial in deciding one's area of specialisation. Working for a while helps one to understand which job function is better suited for oneself. The job is something a person would be doing for the majority of his/her life; hence enjoying it is paramount. For example, if someone is gifted in interpersonal relations and dealing with people, the management or human resource degree may be perfect. A marketing degree seems appropriate for the person enjoying communication, selling and persuading.

Nahian Iftekhar, a recent business graduate from IBA, University of Dhaka, wants to pursue a Business Analytics Master's rather than the usual finance, marketing or management degrees. He says, "During my time as an undergrad student, I worked part-time in digital marketing agencies. I realised that this is something that excites me and I would never feel bored to do at any stage. Thus, I decided to pursue an unconventional degree, because it makes me happy and because I believe, data analytics is the future of businesses."

The third benefit of a delayed master's is that many of the finest universities around the world require a minimum of one or two years of work for a robust application. Working for a year or two also helps a graduate to gather funds to bear initial costs if he/she is planning to go abroad. According to Sadek Newaz, an assistant relationship manager at a bank, "I think instead of immediately going for a master's, undergraduates should look for some work experience and try to apply their four years of learning in the practical world. Besides, if you are applying for an MBA abroad, you do need work experience. So it helps in that regard as well."

Keep in mind

A working experience often makes your learning in master's more relevant, more practical and more comfortable to connect with real-world scenarios. However, no pros come without cons. Having a study gap for a while often means difficulty in adjusting to routines or study habits. No matter how brilliant a student in undergraduate programme is, a study gap often makes one forget the core concepts of bachelor's subject, and a brushing up is needed before a new start.  A study break makes it even more complicated since the handling of exams also needs some time before once starts acing it. Therefore, despite many advantages, delaying one's degree can make it difficult for one to pursue it.

Going for a master's is a life-changing decision. It will influence one's life, career, relationships, location of work and even how one's life may unfold. Hence, it requires as much research as possible. However, even more than that it requires readiness, stability and preparation.


The writer is working in a bank. She can be reached at

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