Opting to go for a Masters degree is an important decision. Some would even argue it’s a life-changing choice. But why is this the case? And if it’s so fateful, how does one go about making it? These four essential tips for choosing a Specialised Masters programme will give you the basic answer to those questions. After that, it would be up to you to figure out whether you’re ready to take the leap.

1. Understand what the Masters degree is all about

The first step to choosing any Masters, and especially a Specialised Masters programme, is understanding what the Masters degree entails. In short, it is an education designed to instil specialised skills, which will transform you into a more narrowly-specialised professional. A Masters degree gives you a profession for you to confidently practise. A Specialised Masters allows you to become a professional in a subfield of a major area of knowledge.

Simple example: You could undertake a Masters in Marketing and become a broad practitioner of marketing, and anything that comes with it – promotion, product development, pricing, etc. But you could also do a Masters in Branding or in PR, both of which are part of Marketing Communications. So then you can become a Brand Officer or Press Relations Manager instead of Marketing Officer.

That would make you a narrow professional, who fulfils a niche – a goal held in high regards for its potential for career and monetary success.

READ: The 5 Best Masters Scholarships

2. Know what you want

Now that you know what you're signing for, it is important that you know what interests you. Because let's be frank – you're investing a considerable amount of money into acquiring a profession through an education degree, which you're supposedly going to practice for many years to come.

Choose badly, and you'll be left disappointed at the prospect of doing a job you don't like.

Choose well, and your profession will be one of the most fulfilling things in life.

Many entrepreneurs and influencers say that success comes when you focus on your strengths. Perhaps that's exactly what you should do, too. Know what you're good at, think of what you liked to study in college, and imagine what kind of new skills you could acquire to perfect yourself in those fields or subfields.

And if that's not possible at the current moment, try working in that field for a while. That would certainly bring to light your professional strengths and weaknesses, and it will also show you what you enjoy doing.

3. Explore the curriculum and weigh in the essentials

Step 3: know what you'll be studying. The school, the programme format, the location – these are all very important factors to choosing your Masters. But they are all secondary to what exactly you'll be studying. This is particularly important in a Specialised Masters, because you're aiming to acquire very specific skills. It goes without saying that your interest in the field has already taught you about some of the basic fundaments and the current trends in your chosen field. This will allow you to identify those subjects when you explore the curriculum of the programme. Compare the curriculum of your chosen schools and weigh in the pros and cons, while keeping the other selection factors in mind. Does the programme offer enough specialisation? Do the courses include intensive practical assignments? And if so, do you have to compromise with the school's location or reputation? Answer these questions, and always remember Step 1 and 2 – you're on a quest to becoming a narrow professional, who ought to enjoy their job.

READ: How I Selected the University for my Master's Programme

4. Be realistic about your budget

Now that you're almost ready to make the final decision, you must face up to the hardest challenge of all – money. Being aware of your financial limitations is crucial. Your inability to pay for all the expenses will put the entire endeavour at risk. The course's tuition fees are only a part of that problem. Accommodation, food and transport are the big three wallet-drainers you'll face throughout your Masters studies, so you'll have to prepare for them. Do not assume that you will be able to go to another country and quickly find a part-time job that will pay for all of your monthly expenses. That's almost impossible to pull off. Instead, know what kind of money you can rely on – be it your own savings or your family's support. Most of the times, this is the safest bet.

If your calculations do not add up, allow plenty of time to apply for scholarships and grants to help you ease the financial ache. If all that fails, consider taking a loan, but not before consulting a professional, who can offer you better conditions for a study loan.

Consider the kind of money that you'll spend in the one or two years of your Masters, and think of this: Can I risk the financial trouble in order to go for that expensive school in that expensive city? If "Yes", then you're ready for the leap. But if your answer is "No", ask yourself one last question: "Am I willing to compromise with my choice on the basis of my financial inability to pay for all the expenses"?


Then repeat steps 3 and 4, and soon enough, you'll be flying off to your new alma mater.

Following this guide will help you make the right choice. But will your career expectations meet reality? Our annual Masters survey report has the answer. Read it here Global Survey Confirms Most Career Expectations Match Reality Among Specialised Masters Graduates