From part-time one year courses to doctoral research for three years, doing postgraduate study can give you a competitive advantage in the job market. Furthermore, those who only have a professional degree alone no longer stand out in a job interview. When analysing the pros and cons of gaining work experience or doing a postgraduate course, remember that you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself to one option.

Here are some explanations of different programs for you to look at to decide which are best for your career and academic goals:


The Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma are shorter programs in the Masters category but may be very useful if you do not want to commit to a program in full or have very specific interests in small number of modules of a course. These courses are also proportionally cheaper than a full Masters degree.

Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert)

A Postgraduate Certificate usually contains fewer teaching modules than the Postgraduate Diploma and usually ranges between 3 to 9 months in duration. Generally speaking, these courses offer the opportunity to learn about a particular area to gain skills in the job market. Unlike a Masters program, it does not require you to write a thesis or dissertation.

Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)

The duration of a Postgraduate Diploma varies depending on the area of ​​study but usually it lasts a year. Different to a Masters program, there is no requirement to submit a dissertation or thesis. However, if during studying the postgraduate diploma you want to apply for the Masters degree, you can take extra modules and present the thesis to complete the whole cycle.


Title: The title is known as Master or Magister in the area of study.

Duration: One to two years (full-time)

The most common types of Masters degrees are the Master of Arts (MA) (focused especially in careers as Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Theology) and the Master of Science (MSc) for pure and applied sciences.

Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Engineering (MEng)

In addition to the titles of MA (Master of Arts), MSc (Master of Science) and MEng (Master of Engineering), there are some more specific Masters such as March or Master of Architecture, MEd or Master in Education, MMus or Master of Music and MTh or Master of Theology.

Masters programs include seminars, lectures, tutorials, projects, oral and written exams, research, and a dissertation. The distribution of these varies depending on the area of study and the university.

In some cases, you can leave out the dissertation and obtain a Postgraduate Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate; useful if you want to specialise in a particular area and do not have the time for the research project.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

An MBA or Masters in Business Administration is designed for those who have work experience in the field. The course is intensive, demanding and designed to create successful business leaders.

Master of Law (LLM)

LLM or Master of Law is usually a full-time program over the course of one year. In most cases, it’s not necessary to have a law degree to be admitted and the program doesn’t provide an official certification to practice law. While an Undergraduate Law degree offers an overview of all the basic skills needed to become a lawyer, an LLM will give the candidate the opportunity to specialise in a very particular subject.

Master of Research (MRes)

The Master of Research or MRes is designed, as its name suggests, to provide training in how to become a researcher. The program includes a larger proportion of research that in most MSc or MA but usually also has an element of lectures. A MRes can give you an advantage if you want to pursue a doctoral degree (PhD) or a career in research. Having said this, MRes programmes are becoming more popular and easily identified as research-based courses.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Similar to a MRes, MPhil consists only on research and usually precedes a Doctorate. In fact, many PhD students are registered for the degree in MPhil during their first 12-18 months of study and have to produce a report at the end of this period in order to change their registration to a PhD student. Besides helping universities to hold down their dropout rates from PhD, it also helps students who are struggling to fund their studies or those who find that a PhD is not for them. The MPhil is generally recognised by employers as an equivalent to any other Master but its nature is purely investigative.


Professional Doctorate (PhD)

A Professional Doctorate is equivalent to a PhD and those who have successfully completed a PhD entitled to call themselves "doctor". While a PhD is based in academic research, the professional doctorate is the way experienced professionals, who study part-time, carry out research related to actual professional practice. There are, of course, exceptions - notably the Engineering Doctorate (PhDEng) which in most cases is only offered as a full-time course and tends to be aimed at recent graduates. Unlike most doctors, Professional Doctorates contain a large component of instruction throughout the course.

Professional doctorates are commonly available for professionals in fields such as Education (PhDEd), Clinical Psychology (PhDClinPsy) Business (PhDBA), Medicine (PHDM), Nursing and Health (PhDHealth), Social Work (PhDSW) and Engineering (PhDEng).

Doctorate (PhD)

A PhD involves a high degree of research on a chosen topic and it is considered intellectually challenging; being under the supervision of an academic with expertise in this subject all the time. While most university professors are being forced to have a PhD degree, it has much broader applications in industry, commerce and the public sector.

Title: The title is known as Doctor in research or PhD

Duration: Three to four years (full-time) or five to six years (part-time)

The programme concludes with a 100,000 words thesis and usually an oral presentation.

To learn more about postgraduate or Masters courses, we invite you to use the search tool at Viva Mundo here. You can also answer questions in our previous article What is the perfect course for you? Read it here.