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Which is the right Postgraduate qualification for you?

Masters and PhDs are the types of degrees that usually pop up into mind when it comes to postgraduate study. However, there are a range of qualifications that can help you achieve your goals and we’ll talk you through them:

  • Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip)
  • Masters (MA/MSc)
  • Research (PhD)

Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma vs Masters degree

The obvious difference is duration. Masters courses usually take between one or three years to complete – studying full-time or part-time – while certificates and diplomas are not as long.

Masters courses tend to focus more on academic research and usually offer greater study choice through a selection of modules and study choice, enabling students to tailor course content to their individual interests. Because of this, they can also be a great way to gain entry onto a PhD.

In terms of cost, it is more expensive to do a Masters but, unlike certificates and diplomas, loans up to £11,222 are available for many of our Masters courses. If you’d like more advice on funding, visit our Financing Your Studies pages.

Certificates and diplomas are the same level as Masters degrees, but unlike a Masters you do not have to write a dissertation. They are a fantastic avenue to support career development, particularly if you are less interested in significant amounts of academic research, or don’t have the time to do a Masters.

Like some of our Masters courses, many diplomas at Leeds Beckett are also accredited by professional organisations, meaning your qualification will be highly regarded in the industry it relates to.

If obtaining a Masters degree is your ultimate goal, just remember that there is more than one pathways to get there. You don’t have to decide right from the start. A Certificate or Diploma could either fully cover your needs or pave the way for you to get there. In some cases, students who start a Masters, but are then unable to commit to a dissertation can graduate with a certificate or a diploma.

What is different about a PhD?

If your goal is to become a specialist in the field you are passionate about, or pursue an academic career, a PhD is essential. PhDs last longer than Masters but give you total independence so you can focus on your research, which is very important since your aim will be to contribute entirely new knowledge in your chosen filed. 

Many students think that a Masters is an important step towards obtaining a PhD. This is not always true, however, and sometimes going straight into a PhD may be a more efficient way to achieve your individual goals. Take a look at our Research website to find out more about research at that level. 

How to decide?

Before you start researching, take some time to ask yourself what you want to achieve with a postgraduate degree and how fast you want to complete it. Whether to climb up the career ladder, change careers altogether or just expand your knowledge in a subject you are passionate about, the motivation behind your goals is the best guide towards choosing the type of qualification that is right for you.

If obtaining a Masters degree is your ultimate goal, just remember that there is more than one pathway to get there. You don’t have to make a decision right from the start, if you are unsure. A Certificate or Diploma could either fully cover your needs or pave the way for you to get there. Just start your studies and see for yourself where they can take you.

To find out more about our postgraduate courses, the types of degrees we offer and which is the right degree for you, visit us for an Open Day. We hold events around the year to help you discover the benefits of being a postgraduate student at Leeds Beckett University.

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