Should You Pursue a Postgraduate Degree?

Posted by Aala Cheema

Students in their final year of undergraduate study or recent graduates or even not so recent graduates may find themselves thinking whether postgraduate study is right for them. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons to pursuing a postgraduate qualification. 


Improved employment likelihood 

A postgraduate qualification can improve your job prospects and put you ahead of undergraduate applicants interviewing for the same position as you have further knowledge that may be extremely beneficial for employers. Further study demonstrates expert knowledge and understanding well beyond the undergraduate level, allowing you to advance in your field. 

Some graduates choose to concurrently work and study their postgraduate degree part-time. This shows their commitment to their career to their employer, and often can lead to a promotion or more permanent position once they have completed their studies. 

The 2022 Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted by the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching found that the undergraduate employment rate for graduates was 88.3% in 2022. For postgraduate coursework, employment was 93.3%, and for postgraduate research employment was 91.9%. 

Increased knowledge and expertise

According to the Aust Australian Qualifications Framework, a Bachelor's degree provides level 7 qualifications to graduates imparting “broad and coherent knowledge and skills for professional work and/or future learning.” Honours degrees, graduate certificates and graduate diplomas are seated at level 8, providing “advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in one or more disciplines or areas of practice.” A master’s degree at level 9 provides “specialised knowledge and skills for research, and/or professional practice and/or further learning.” At the highest level 10, a PhD offers “systematic and critical understanding of a complex field of learning and specialised research skills for the advancement of learning and/or for professional practice.” Postgraduate study can allow you to develop and hone your skills beyond the undergraduate level. You will become equipped with problem-solving, public-speaking, communication, researching and critical thinking. 

Improved earning potential

A postgraduate degree also increases your likelihood of a higher salary. The 2022 Graduate Outcomes Survey Survey found that salary outcomes are much higher for postgraduates. The median salary for an undergraduate is $80,000. In comparison, the median salary for a postgraduate coursework graduate is $103,000 and for a postgraduate research graduate it is $105,000. 

Opportunities in Academia

If you are interested in pursuing academia, a postgraduate degree is all but necessary. A postgraduate qualification allows you to make substantial and important contributions to your field through research. 


Postgraduate study is ideal, and at times necessary, to qualify and seek accreditation for a profession. For example, to qualify for admission as a legal practitioner, students must complete a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice after completing their law degree. 

Some roles are restricted to postgraduates only, particularly in areas of science, technology, engineering, and maths, so if your dream profession rests in such a category, it will be necessary to seriously consider doing a postgraduate degree or reconsidering your career goals. 

Explore potential or alternative career options

Another perfectly valid reason is that perhaps you are not yet ready to enter the workforce full-time. Postgraduate study can help you delay that transition by a few years, allowing you to grow comfortable and perhaps ignite your passion for a career you are truly interested in. 

If you are looking for a career change, postgraduate study is also a convenient shortcut. Instead of going back to university and studying another three year undergraduate degree, you can complete a two year postgraduate coursework degree. Some postgraduate degrees require previous study in the area, but most do not. 


Postgraduate degrees tend to take less time than undergraduate, allowing for more flexibility and the ability to study part-time while working and still complete your degree in a reasonable amount of time. 


A postgraduate degree also augments opportunities for networking and forming influential connections with important people within your field. Students often work closely with a supervisor, which provides a one-on-one mentoring experience. 

Enjoyment of learning

If you just simply enjoy university and studying, then postgraduate education is the natural next step! Undergraduate study tends to cover a range of topics in less detail, while postgraduate allows you to delve deeper into a niche area of interest.


Lack of work experience

The time spent completing extra study is time away from work experience that others in your field have accumulated during your absence from the workforce. 


Another consideration is the cost associated with further study. Not all postgraduate degrees, particularly coursework, are a Commonwealth Supported Place. Students are subsequently required to pay full fees upfront. However, research students are typically supported by the Research Training Scheme

Greater workload and commitment

As a higher study, a postgraduate degree will naturally be more difficult than an undergraduate degree. This will require a greater level of commitment and will require students to make sacrifices in their personal life to concentrate on their studies. Furthermore, if you had difficulty completing your undergraduate degree, a postgraduate degree will be even more challenging as the content will be more complex. 

Deciding to study a postgraduate degree is a big decision. It is important to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks to ensure that you make the right decision for you and where you’re at in your career journey.

Find potential postgraduate courses that are right for you over at SEEK Learning.

About The Author

Aala is studying Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the Australian National University. She is passionate about law, literature, and history, and has been published by ABC News.


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