Stop treating masters grads as one group

The differences between part-time and full-time Masters graduates are great and treating them as one group is misleading

The differences between part-time and full-time Masters graduates are so great, that treating them as one group risks misleading students about their early job prospects – reports Charlie Ball, labour market expert at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), in the spring edition of Graduate Market Trends (GMT).

Ball comments on the employment outcomes of Masters graduates, citing the latest data (2011/12) from the HESA Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education survey:

“Part-time students make up a significant proportion (40%) of the Masters cohort, they tend to be older and have a history of professional employment. Their full-time counterparts are often younger and have gone straight from an undergraduate degree to a Masters.

“This difference is further realised in their employment prospects, with part-time Masters graduates faring much better early-on in the jobs market – 74% of full-time Masters graduates and 90% of part-time Masters graduates were working after six months.

“Further study is a significant time and cost commitment, and we need to make sure that prospective students get the best possible information, advice and guidance. It’s misleading to bunch the two groups together, particularly as full-time graduates may believe their job prospects to be better than can actually be the case. It may also underestimate the prospective value of part-time Masters study to students and employers alike.

“It’s time to stop treating Masters graduates as one group when it comes to looking at the pros and cons of further study.”

The ‘What do Masters Graduates do?’ analysis is part of a special postgraduate-themed edition of Graduate Market Trends, which can be read at

The spring edition of the HECSU journal also takes a look at the Australian postgraduate labour market and features an interview with Dr Sue Rigby from the University of Edinburgh about the information needs of prospective postgraduate students.



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