Rumours About Masters Degrees (and why they’re not true)

Applying to study a Masters degree can be a stressful time. And it doesn’t help that there are always rumours flying about what postgraduate study is really like. I’ve just finished my first semester as an MSc Bioarchaeology student, and I wanted to sift through the rumours and myths about PG study for anyone who’s thinking of applying.

Rumour 1: You can only study a Masters if you have a 1st at Undergrad

Not to toot my own horn but I’m a pretty good example of why this is not the case. I got a 2:1 in my BA and was accepted onto a Masters course. And I’m currently doing really well in my assignments.

Most courses want a 2:1 or 1st at undergrad. But what they’re really looking for are students with the enthusiasm and drive to complete a Masters degree. You absolutely do not have to have a 1st to get into a Masters or to do well, so don’t let this rumour put you off applying!

Rumour 2: Say RIP to your social life

Rumours About Masters Degrees - you don't need to say RIP to your social life

Studying for a Masters does not mean that you have to say goodbye to your social life! I’ve gone to parties, nights out, shopping trips and coffee meetups with friends during this past semester, even though I’m still settling into a new city and new degree.

It’s definitely not the same vibe as first year of undergrad, where you might to go out drinking and partying. But if that’s still your scene go for it! (Just maybe not the night before a deadline!)

There are also lots of opportunities to join societies and go to events in the day. York has its own Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) so there are plenty of chances to be social!

Rumour 3: You have to go straight from your undergraduate to postgraduate

Loads of postgrads have either taken a gap year or have come back to study after years or decades away from university. Whether you’re an older prospective student or a final year undergrad who doesn’t know whether they want to apply straight away, don’t let this rumour put you off!

Rumour 4: You have to study the exact same subject you did at undergrad

My degree is made up of archaeologists, biologists, biochemists, biomed students, genetics students, historians, art historians, and ancient historians. Before starting this degree, I was really worried that my BA in Archaeology and Ancient History would not have prepared me to study an MSc, and that my struggles with A2 Biology would come back to haunt me. But I’ve found that I’ve settled in really well and the teaching doesn’t require you to be an expert level osteologist or biomolecular scientist.

Lots of Masters degrees are more specialist than undergraduate degrees. So as an English undergrad, you could go on to study MA Poetry and Poetics or MA Literature of the Romantic Period. There are also lots of interdisciplinary degrees like MA Medical History and Humanities or MSc Human Anatomy and Evolution. Basically, there’s lots of choices out there, so don’t feel limited by your undergraduate degree!

Rumour 5: It’s like final year multiplied by 10


Okay, so this one is kind of true, but it’s not as bad as it sounds!

The workload is pretty intense, but that’s because you’re doing a more advanced degree in (usually) a smaller amount of time. Don’t be put off by this though! If you’ve been accepted onto a Masters degree, it’s because the university knows that you’re capable.

There are plenty of options for part-time degrees too. This makes the workload even more manageable and can give you more time to work and earn money. A good option if you’re funding your studies yourself. Again, this shouldn’t put you off applying! The amount of fun I’ve had this last semester makes the stressful times feel insignificant. So if you love your subject, go for it!

I hope this blog post has helped you feel a bit better about all the confusing rumours and myths surrounding PG study. I wish you all the best of luck in your applications and degrees!

Read more student stories about Masters study

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Hi! I'm currently studying MSc Bioarchaeology after completing my BA in Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Birmingham. I love art and travel, and I spend too much of my time in museums.

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