Starting your Masters degree studies will help you gain advanced knowledge and develop a range of skills for your desired career path. When selecting your university and programme, take a deep look at the curriculum to know all your options. Once enrolled, this research will make it easier for you to select electives in addition to the core courses required for the degree.

Fast forward to your first week in a Masters programme. With so many different options, it can be very hard to decide which courses to take. Furthermore, selecting the right electives for your Masters programme is crucial since it will have a big impact on your future academic and professional success. So, in this article, we will discuss some tips on how to choose the electives for your Masters.

What is the difference between a core course and an elective course?

First, let’s discuss the difference between a core course and an elective. Core courses are mandatory to fulfil your programme requirements. Their purpose is to provide you with a strong foundation and knowledge in your chosen field of study. Electives are courses you can choose from. They allow you to study subjects that you find interesting. Typically, elective courses are meant to give you the opportunity to explore and specialise in specific areas within your field of study.

Every university has its own set of requirements. Sometimes, electives are not mandatory; other times, they will be added to your core courses and will make up the total number of units needed to complete your degree.

So, how can you choose the right elective courses?

Consider your career goals

First and foremost, you should consider and align your elective courses with your career goals. Prioritise courses that offer practical skills and knowledge that can be directly applied in your future careers. For example, courses that involve long-term projects, case studies or internships will help you build a strong foundation for your future endeavours.

The close alignment to business both within and outside of the LBS curriculum is a great way to develop as a professional and acquire the practical skills needed to excel in a corporate environment,” shares Nuria Riechenberg, an LBA alumna of the Global Masters in Management (GMiM) 2017, for the London Business School blog. The programme offers electives in flexible formats to provide a deep dive into specialist subjects and cross-generational learning with MBA, MiF and experienced leadership programme students.

Focus on your interests

Another very important aspect is to consider your personal interests when choosing elective courses. Yes, learning is important, but it will be much easier if you are having fun and enjoying what are you doing. Think about your passions. Select those elective courses that genuinely interest you and can make the most of your Masters experience.

Take the opportunity to try something new

Electives are a great opportunity to learn new things and try something you’ve always wanted to do. Many students use electives to take fun courses like dance, photography, and different sports. If you want to learn more about a certain skill or to practise a hobby, with the elective courses you will have this chance.

I liked deciding which elective courses I wanted to follow based on my interests and my goals for the future,” Thomas Gaut, who studied a Masters in Sociology and Social Research at Utrecht University (the Netherlands), says. “As one of my elective courses I took part in an internship at NIDI (demographic research institute), where I was given the opportunity to work with a large dataset and to conduct my own research. This internship gave me a good insight into how research is done outside academia and the more explorative side of social research.

Ask for help

If you have any difficulties choosing your elective courses, an academic adviser can help you figure out the best choices for you. For example, an adviser can help you choose a minor that might complement your professional goals and electives that might serve best as requirements for that minor. In addition, your adviser could help you find courses that could improve your weaker academic areas. So don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You are there to learn, after all.

Do not overdo it

Lastly, it’s critical to take into account the effort and degree of difficulty associated with each elective course you choose. Your Masters programme journey will be hard and tiring, so it is crucial to choose electives which will not burden you too much with excessive assignments or homework. When making your final electives’ selection, be sure to review the course descriptions and schedules.

Overall, the decision of how to choose the electives in your Masters programme is a personal one. But by taking the above-mentioned factors into consideration, you will choose electives that align with your career goals, interests, and academic capabilities. In short, take your time to do research, assess your options, seek help from an academic adviser and you will make the most of your elective courses and enhance your Masters programme learning experience.