If the reputation of your Masters degree is of great importance to you, then you have some work to do. The road to selecting a Masters programme that is well recognised in the region and industry where you are planning your career involves a good deal of research and preparation.
Whether your interests and career orientation lean towards marketing, finance, or computer science, you are probably asking yourself questions like “Which university is the right one?” and “What aspects should I consider when making my decision?”. Fortunately for you, every Masters student-to-be goes through this stage of selecting their programme. To make the process easier and ensure that you are making the best possible decision for your future, you might like to consider several different points of view.
One of the first factors you might want to look at when researching reputable universities and programmes is accreditation. Accrediting bodies are external organisations that check the quality of higher education programmes and objectively establish whether the school’s offerings are up to par with particular standards.
Accreditation can be issued at both the university and programme level. If you are set on getting a Masters degree in a business-related field, check whether the school is accredited by any of the three internationally recognised associations for business school accreditation – AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA. The three organisations use different criteria to judge the quality of business school teaching and this is part of what makes them all the more beneficial. As Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean for MBA and Executive Degrees at Oxford’s Saïd Business School (UK), told the Financial Times, “the value of different [accrediting] bodies is that each can focus on elements of a business school’s work.”
Although AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA are largely associated with MBA studies, the organisations are dedicated to working at the Bachelor’s, Masters, and Doctoral levels as well. An interesting example is the specialist Masters at Imperial College London (UK) in Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management which “is the first innovation or entrepreneurship programme to be awarded an international accreditation by the Association of MBAs (AMBA).”
Of course, there are accrediting institutions whose focus lies in entirely different specialisations such as the Royal Society of Chemistry, the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE), and the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) to name a few. In addition to international accreditation, schools can also be accredited by national or regional associations.
University rankings can be another easily accessible resource to identify the most prominent educational institutions in a given geographical area or field of study, but you should use them wisely. Although they are a good indicator of universities that are striving for excellence, keep in mind that they are based on different methodologies and certainly cannot reflect all aspects of education.
When looking at rankings, you might want to pay attention to the different components of the methodology and use those that are most important for you to compare universities. Does the ranking address a particular programme or faculty within the university? Is there information about the percentage of students who were employed after graduation or the average salary of graduates? These are just some of the factors you can filter by in the Masters in Management or Masters in Finance rankings by the Financial Times. Whichever sources you refer to in the end, make sure you take into account the factors you care most about for your programme selection.
Employment opportunities and requirements
For most people, the ultimate goal of attending graduate school is to gain additional knowledge and skills which will in turn lead to a successful and happy career. The chance of finding your dream job after you graduate is of course dependent on your choice of school and programme, among other factors. One of the things you can do to increase those chances and exercise some control over your future career is to find out what different universities do to help students through their employment journey.
The website pages of most reputable Masters programmes feature a list of companies and organisations that have recruited alumni of that university. You may even find dedicated alumni pages with success stories, interviews, and other useful information shared by previous students of the programme. The alumni page of Monash University (Australia), for instance, allows users to filter through alumni stories depending on the degree level they are interested in. Getting to know more about their employment experience after graduation will give you a better idea of what students like yourself have managed to gain from the programme. Many of these online student pages also feature the individual’s LinkedIn profile, allowing you to get in touch personally by introducing yourself and asking for additional details about their particular study experience.
In addition, you can check what opportunities different schools provide in terms of internships, practical courses, company visits, etc. This type of research will be especially useful if you already know what career path you would like to pursue, because you will be able to look for much more specific information.
On the flip side, it is worthwhile to research the job requirements of companies that feature in list of your dream employers. Visit their official websites or some of their current job listings and browse through their education requirements and the skills that they expect from job applicants. This will set you on the right track in the long run and you will know what to look for when researching different Masters programmes.
To a great extent, selecting one particular programme over another will determine the rest of your academic journey and even your career. It will shape your personality further and it will open the door to new and exciting adventures. Looking into the Masters possibilities available to you early enough will enable you to take the best possible decision for yourself!