A postgraduate course is an advanced level of study that one undertakes after completing an undergraduate degree course. A typical postgraduate course is a two-year full-time programme in India. A postgraduate degree gives a student an edge over the others as they are more attuned to handling complex problems and therefore, are considered as valuable assets by future employers.
There are a lot of postgraduate courses offered by host universities across India and students can now opt for courses that suit their specific needs. While a conventional postgraduate degree is a two-year academic programme, with the changing trends in the industry, a lot of prominent higher education institutions have started offering refined and specialisation courses at the master’s level, including postgraduate certification and graduate diploma programmes. PG diploma courses are a great way to gain additional skill sets as more often than not they are more focused on application-oriented learning as opposed to the academic inclination of 2-year full-time PG courses.
Benefits of Pursuing a PG Course
Post Graduate courses qualify you to advance your career and give you an upper hand when it comes to career prospects and trajectory. PG courses are more streamlined, engaging and concentrated and equip you with skills and thought processes that will help you in becoming a problem-solver rather than a rote-learner. They offer fluid skills including analytical, research-oriented, and problem-solving skills. These lead to better career opportunities and in turn job profile satisfaction, since a master’s graduate is in a better position to understand his/her interests and align their career trajectory to match with them.
Postgraduate courses are also a great way to switch your career path and go in a different direction than you initially intended with your bachelor’s degree. You are free to explore, venture into completely new directions or not wade too far from your bachelor’s course. And now a lot of universities offer courses that you can pick and choose from according to your preferences; there are part-time courses, full-time courses, one-year courses, research-based courses and many more. It depends on how much time you have, how invested you are in the course and what are your future goals.
Popularity of Postgraduate Studies
With the advent of technology, new job roles and titles have cropped up. The universities, in turn, are developing new and innovative courses to cater to this internet run generation. In addition to the traditional PG courses that have been offered since time immemorial, there are a lot of professional diploma courses that last usually 9 months to a year and give you the technical knowledge to flourish in your career.
Most students opt for postgraduate courses as they equip students academically better to understand situations and provide relevant solutions. They increase your knowledge in a specific specialisation and eventually help you in scoring that dream job. For students that are aiming higher and want to gain expertise in their field, a postgraduate degree or diploma becomes a must. Therefore, PG courses have become a popular career path for a lot of students as they prepare them for the industry and give them a competitive edge.
Types of Postgraduate Degrees
Postgraduate degrees have a wide variety of titles attached to them. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Master of Arts (MA)
An MA is a taught Masters course and is predominantly offered for all Arts and Humanities courses. MA courses are the oldest ones in the book. These courses provide you with added knowledge about your specific subjects. They are rigorous courses and achieving a degree requires one to submit a dissertation. An MA is generally offered by nearly all universities in social sciences courses across the world. But, this is not a standard rule, some social sciences courses also offer an MSc or Master of Science degree.
Master of Science (MSc)
An MSc is another taught course and generally offered in the Science and Technology field. As in any masters programme, they offer specializations, as in any other master’s they offer specializations in a particular subject and gives one additional skill to deal with complex problems.
Master in Fine Arts (MFA)
An MFA is another taught degree and is offered in the performing arts and creative discourses. These discourses also offer an MA degree, but MA’s are focused on enhancing the theoretical knowledge behind it. Whereas, an MFA focuses on enhancing the performative skills of the students enrolled.
The Master of Laws (LLM)
An LLM degree is offered for students who are interested in the legal and judicial sectors. One typically pursues them after getting an LLB (Bachelors of Laws). These are non-specialised degrees as a student doesn’t necessarily require a Masters to practice law. You can easily do that with an LLB.
Master in Engineering (ME)
A ME or MEng is a taught course that is offered to students who are looking to further specialize in Engineering. A student typically pursues it after pursuing a BTech (Bachelors in Technology). The students who opt for this degree mostly go on to become professional engineers who work closely on the field and are highly involved in groundwork level work.
Postgraduate Certified (PG Cert) and Postgraduate Diploma (PGD)
Postgraduate Certified or Postgraduate Diploma courses are mostly shorter courses and often can be achieved without a dissertation. These courses are mostly practically based so that the students can learn all the skills in a shorter period. They usually last somewhere between 9 months to 1 year. They are specialized courses that focus on developing theoretical knowledge based on a practical pedagogical approach.
Master of Research (MRes)
An MRes is a research-based degree that is carried out over a taught course. However, there is a slight difference between an MA and an MRes, an MA is taught over a specific discourse whereas, in MRes, a student conducts their independent research on subjects of their choice. Also, MA aims to hone a student’s academic knowledge over research methodology whereas, MRes emphasises more on research methodological principles. Students are required to submit a research proposal and a statement of purpose at the time of applying.
An Integrated Masters is a degree that combines a Masters with either a BA or a PhD. It technically means that if you want to pursue a single longer course then you can enrol yourself in an Integrated Masters.
Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
It is probably one of the most sought after degrees. An MBA degree is typically pursued after a BCom or BBA or a BA. But, there are no restrictions, students coming from all sorts of discourses can opt for an MBA. It is a professional qualification that equips one to successfully transfer to any branch they want to. These are also relevant for professionals with some work experience.
Master in Philosophy (MPhil)
Masters in Philosophy is for students who want to conduct their research but their research is not extensive enough for a PhD. For those who want to pursue a research-based course but for a shorter time. It is completely a students’ prerogative on how to steer their research. It is not a taught course but is solely based on independent research.
Graduate Diploma Programmes
These are 1-year programmes offered in various fields. At Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF), these full-time master’s equivalent courses are offered by the University of London under the academic direction of London School of Economics in Finance, Economics and Management, and now the recently launched Data Science. One year diploma courses are highly pragmatic and aim to equip the students with essential skills to excel in the real world as well as pursue challenging advanced academic programmes.
Teaching and Assessment of Postgraduate Courses Most masters degrees are taught courses barring a few research-based ones. Each degree has its courses/subjects attached to them and therefore, the pedagogical practices for each course differ according to the requirements of the subject plus dissertation. The dissertation is the common denominator for all masters degrees across the globe. As for assessment criteria, it depends on University to University. Every university has its own set of rules on how to conduct exams, or grade papers submitted, on how many credits a student will be taking depending on the courses and how many credits will be associated with the dissertation. In most cases, the dissertation course carries the most weight and underperforming on the dissertation can lead to no award of the degree. For instance, at LSE, one needs to have completed all summative assignments, appeared for examinations for courses that require it and submitted their dissertations.
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The eligibility criteria for a postgraduate degree is to have a BA/BSc/BCom. Degree in a relevant field. In India, the eligibility criteria are 2+3 years of study, which means the 11th grade, 12th grade and three years in a bachelor’s programme. For most countries overseas the requirement is 4 years of undergraduate study and their master’s programmes are 1 year taught courses. However, universities in modern times understand the difference in educational structures and therefore overseas candidates with a three-year undergraduate degree have to compensate differently when writing their applications.
Application Process for Postgraduate Courses
Postgraduate application processes are extensive and exhaustive, especially if you are applying to a leading university. The application procedure differs geographically and depending on the type of programme.
You first and foremost have to fill out an application form with all your details. Universities abroad require a statement of purpose and you must start writing it way beforehand. This leaves you with a lot of room to improve it and make changes after revisiting it. It takes a lot of time to write that perfect essay that will get you to university. You will also have to have a minimum of 2 letters of recommendation from your previous professors and/or employers. It is always best to contact your referees at the beginning so they have ample time to compile a letter of recommendation for you. In case you are applying for an MPhil or MRes then you will also have to include a research proposal with your applications. You have to ensure that you have attached all your supporting documents. And keep an eye out for emails or regularly check your portal if a particular college does that.
In India, the masters’ application process is a bit different. It requires one to fill out an application form and attach all the supporting documents with it. You will then have to write an examination to get a place in masters for each specific course. Some universities even have their own standardized tests and then do a personal interview to judge a candidate. The colleges usually post a list of students who have been accepted to the course and you will simply have to enrol yourself.
In India, there are several leading higher education institutions that offer some of the most sought-after postgraduate courses. These are typically 2-year degree programmes in various fields. There are new programmes being launched with the changing face of the economy and an increase in demand for previously unusual skills like data science, analytics, and multiple others. Students are also transitioning away from the traditional programmes and exploring new avenues and courses that provide them with an industry-relevant curriculum. Universities offering programmes in collaboration with foreign universities play a big role here, bringing in world-class curriculums at a fraction of the cost the students would bear if they studied the same programme at the foreign university.
To summarise, there is no dearth of programmes and options when it comes to post-graduation. One needs to understand and explore one’s own interests and career inclination before deciding which programme to opt for and then dedicatedly pursue the course to get the best out of them.