Types of Further Education

University

Graduate school (Master's and PhD programs)

Pros

  • you have much more opportunity to determine the focus of your research
  • intensive, in-depth exploration of a field of interest with like-minded peers
  • professors are tenured and are actively involved in research
  • you often have a chance to be involved in the research of your professors, and to work closely with a professor who shares your research interests
  • you sometimes have the opportunity to attend and even present at academic conferences and/or publish articles in academic publications
  • funding packages often cover tuition and most of your living expenses

Cons

  • it can be expensive if you don’t have funding, or if your funding isn’t enough
  • grad school is very hard work – like the busiest time of your Bachelor degree for 1-2 years
  • in some cases having a masters or PhD may make you appear overqualified for entry-level positions
  • sometimes it can be difficult to find professors who share your interests or courses related to your area of interest

Professional programs (e.g. medical school, law school, teacher’s college, business school)

Pros

  • professional schools are directly related to specific career paths, and in many cases are required in order to practice in the field
  • these programs are taught by professionals with whom you can network to aid transition into the field
  • professional programs almost always have an extensive experiential component so you receive professional mentorship and support
  • employers in these fields often work closely with these programs to identify potential employees

Cons

  • professional programs are very competitive and most applicants will not be accepted
  • tuition for these programs can be very high, with very little entry scholarships
  • many programs require you to write a qualifying exam e.g. GRE, MCAT, LSAT etc. which can be difficult, expensive and can take a lot of preparation
  • no degree will guarantee you a good job when you graduate - no matter what the program is, some graduates will struggle to get a related job they want when they are finished

Post-graduate certificates

Pros

  • can provide a career-focused complement to a university degree
  • sometimes courses maybe taken as part of your degree
  • a good way to get a ‘bite-sized’ taste of a potential career path

Cons

  • these can be expensive, as each course costs the same as a university course
  • may be more theoretical than experiential in focus
  • may not be taught by a professional in the field
  • many courses cannot be taken as part of your undergrad degree

College

Post-graduate diplomas

Pros

  • these are job training programs intended to prepare you to work in specific fields
  • having a university degree means you can ‘fast track’ a college diploma, which means you will be exempt from general education and elective courses and can graduate more quickly than regular college students
  • many of the teachers in these programs are, or have been, professionals in the field making them valuable industry contacts
  • many post grad diplomas offer field placements/co-ops/internships which can provide professional references, industry contacts, and sometimes, even job offers

Cons

  • course content and or equipment may not be up to date with the newest trends in the field
  • some programs only offer classroom training without any real world experiences
  • there may not be market demand in the occupation for which you are training when you graduate
  • field placements may not be in organizations with whom you want to work when you graduate