Diffeence Between A Graduate and Postgraduate Degrees

What Is Graduate and Postgraduate?

As a student graduating from high school, you are probably thinking about what your next step will be. You have most likely narrowed down your life goals and maybe thought about proceeding to higher education.

What is graduate and postgraduate? Graduate means a person who finished a degree program, whereas postgraduate means a person continuing to study after completing a degree program.

The two are fairly interchangeable, but it might seem confusing to most students. Read on and learn more about graduates and postgraduates.

Graduate Degree and Postgraduate Degree

A graduate degree and postgraduate degree, including master’s degrees and doctoral degrees, will provide advanced knowledge of a specific field. This degree also demonstrates a lifelong commitment to learning, which most employers look for. Those undergraduates who decide to continue studies often have the goal of obtaining better job opportunities.

Types of Graduate Degrees

Learners who wish to have a better career in their chosen field usually begin by determining whether an academic or professional degree is best suited for their interests. They usually choose to continue with a professional degree because these types of programs focus on advanced field learning.

Master’s Degree

Global competition is tougher today. Because of this, the number of people who are getting their master’s degrees is increasing. Many employers and multinational companies are selecting people who possess a master’s degree rather than undergraduates.

Also, having a master’s degree places you in a position wherein the pay is above the minimum wage.

A candidate with a master’s degree gets 20% more pay than those with a bachelor’s degree. Today, the professions that used to hire people with bachelor’s degrees require those who plan to apply, beginning with a master’s degree.

In other words, “degree inflation.” This can also mean that the people already working within the company must get their master’s degree or lose their position.

For instance, occupational therapists now require a master’s degree to be a qualified applicant for the job. The same goes for nurse practitioners.

Not only that, but even librarians and academic administrators now have master’s degrees. Other fields that require a master’s degree are urban planners, statisticians, teachers, and social workers.

There are many advantages and reasons to get a master‘s degree, such as higher compensation, better job opportunities, and faster work promotion.

More students are enrolling for a master‘s degree, especially those from ethnic backgrounds. Along with the demand for master’s degrees, many more programs are being offered: from 289 to 514 programs.

While a master‘s degree takes time and money, the results are worth it. Going through with a master’s degree should take only a year and a half if the student is fully committed.

The time, money, and effort that you‘ll pour into this aren‘t a waste at all. It will be worth the investment because better jobs and higher wages await.

However, before getting one, you must take a step back and rethink your goals, commitment, finances, and strengths and weaknesses. If you don‘t think about these factors, you will be more likely to discontinue and waste everything.

How Long Do I Need to Study to Get a Master’s Degree?

The common time spent on a master‘s degree is about a year. The degree typically requires 36-54 credits, depending on the field and institution.

Several degree programs allow graduate students to go part-time while doing their jobs, but this could take up to six years to complete.

Because getting a master‘s degree can be expensive, several graduate schools offer a flexible schedule for working students wanting to pursue a master‘s degree.

In fact, some institutions have designed a system wherein they hold weekend and evening classes for working students. However, students are still expected to focus as if they were full-time students.

Online master‘s degree programs are also a trend. This gives working students access to higher learning without them having to quit their jobs. This type of setup requires a recommendation that learners not work full-time during the program.

Requirements and schedules vastly vary with the field, making each program unique and distinct from one another. This setup can be completed at a student‘s job website or may require additional time working at a second site. However, this setup makes it difficult to squeeze in a regular employee.

Types of Master’s Degree

Master of Science Degree (MS)

An MS is a master’s degree that correlates with advanced study in fields relating to science and mathematics. Credits in these programs often include extensive labwork or research culminating in a thesis or capstone project.

MS programs include Cybersecurity, Organizational Communication, Leadership, Corporate, and Project Management.

Master of Professional Studies (MPS)

An MPS is a type of interdisciplinary degree that focuses on a certain area of professional study. This program is hands-on in nature and demands internship, co-op experience, and work-study before graduating. MPS programs include Informatics, Analytics, and Digital Media

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

This degree is a professional degree for artists in graphic design, theater, film, music, and more. With the practical abstract exploration of their art, graduate students from these programs will receive credentials necessary for teaching at the undergraduate level.

MFA programs include Visualization, Information Design, Acting, and Creative Writing.

Master of Arts Degree (MA)

An MA is a master’s degree that directly focuses on humanities-based subject areas like languages, teaching, communications, and others. Courses in these programs are more discussion-based and can require some fieldwork, a capstone, and a thesis before graduation.

Common MA programs include English, Elementary Education, and Homeland Security. 

A bachelor’s degree in a related field, high GPAs, and a letter of recommendation are the admission requirements for a master’s degree program. Some institutions will require samples of a student’s writing and research proposal.

Students whose first language isn’t English will be asked for scores from TOEFL. Students are to declare their research goals or research proposal upon entry for any graduate school. In a master’s degree, flexibility is required.

Cost of a Master’s Degree

When you decide to get a master’s degree, you should think about your financial situation first. The programs can be quite expensive, and cost is often the breaking factor when choosing a program.

Exhaust all your financial options before putting a halt to your academic goals. This includes state grants, scholarships, and employer tuition reimbursement.

The National Center for Education Statistics states that the average tuition for a program is about $16,435 a year. However, online programs and public institutions are considerate enough to charge one set rate for both out-of-state and in-state learners to make the programs at least affordable.

For this reason, you have to think about the field that you wish to continue in and then compare the costs:

  1. Compare postgraduate tuition from both online and offline campuses.

  2. Allow added costs when choosing between online and on-campus programs. Consider the cost of living, transportation, and other potential expenses. 

  3. Factor in any financial aid, regardless of whether it is school- or program-specific.

  4. Consult the GetEducated affordability.

The Society for Human Resources and Management reported that the most generous employers are in the technology and health care industries. These two industries are more concerned about education reimbursement. They usually offer lucrative jobs.

Doctorate Degrees

On top of a master’s degree is the doctorate. This is the highest form of education in most fields. For university teaching and research, the degree is a Ph.D. Professional doctorates include Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Education (EdD), Juris Doctor (JD), and more.

However, you can earn a doctorate in almost any course area. For instance, most states require licensed psychologists to possess a doctorate in psychology.

It typically requires four years to complete a doctorate. If you have a master’s degree, you can complete a doctorate in the same subject area with three years of full-time study.

When you have a doctorate, it shows that you are an expert in your chosen field. With this, a few things come to your employers’ minds: You are capable of designing and assessing field research and applications.

How Long Will It Take to Get a Doctorate?

The average time to get a doctorate is four years, again, depending on the field. If you have a master’s degree, it would be faster to complete your doctorate, as long as you concentrate on the same subject area.

A master’s degree could give you a year less to get your doctorate. If you don’t have a master’s degree, the average time you’d spend completing the doctorate is five years.

Several institutions limit a student’s time to complete the degree. The usual is up to eight years. A four-year doctorate requires 90 to 120-semester credits or 30 to 40 college credits.

The year and credits will vary based on the program you’re taking. Some doctorate programs demand the completion of a certain research thesis.

Types of Doctoral Degrees

A research degree and professional degree are the two main categories of doctoral degrees. While a Ph.D. is more of a research degree, an MD and JD are professional degrees.

A research degree and professional degree express the highest level of education and training in a specific field. Both can be required for certain high-ranking job positions with higher salaries.

Research Degrees

Doctor of Philosophy or Ph.D. is the most common doctorate. This is given and awarded mostly in humanities and scientific subjects. Doctor of Philosophy is the typical qualification for people who desire to become full professors at post-secondary institutions.

Doctor of Philosophy is also demanded in several research jobs, from plasma physics to population studies. Ph.Ds. are available in several subject areas.

The course of study includes a two-year advanced course and then allotted time, such as two years to complete a final project that can advance the study field.

The advances from this can be a whole new phenomenon or theory. It can also build on advanced research of past scholars.

For social-scientific projects, the research may include study design and experimental results. For theoretical credits, the process is more likely to be deeply scholarly research and the development of ordinal ideas.

Applied and Professional Doctorates

There are several special doctoral degrees for applied fields. Examples are Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), Doctor of Social Work (DSW), and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).

These degrees are geared toward applying knowledge gained in the fields, and there are licensure requirements for specialized and advanced jobs.

DBA or Doctor of Business Administration is an advanced degree that requires experience in the managerial business side. In the US, business administrators can seek a Ph.D. in Business Administration, the equivalent degree.

Applied doctorates are almost like professional degrees, like Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Juris Doctor (JD), which may be a common degree for lawyers.

These professional degrees allow entry into highly-paid professions like doctors or lawyers, alongside qualifying exams and possible work experience within the profession.

After finishing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring physicians will take four years of medical school, then complete residency programs for an additional three to six years.

These programs, along with other rigorous doctoral programs, require diligence, long hours, and high dedication.

Most programs will require you to research, write, and submit a dissertation — an in-depth research paper — to graduate. This is the highest degree that you can attain in most fields.

Doctorate Degree Cost

Knowing the costs of a doctorate can be complex. The sticker price for tuition and miscellaneous fees is not the net cost a student should pay. Most doctoral students receive financial aid for attending graduate school.

The published tuition and other fees for a non-resident student are anywhere from $8,000 to $90,000 a year. Luckily, there are online schools that give students an in-state tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence.

Miscellaneous and tuition fees are not the only costs students should consider. Students should also consider the cost of living and transportation, especially if they have zero plans on working while studying.

There is a wide variation in pricing between types of programs and schools. The amount of aid can vary, too, which will create a difference in net prices, making them much lower.

The average amount for a private non-profit research program is 95% higher than public research program fees. Yet, the actual net costs are 40% higher.

On the other hand, prices are low for private non-profit programs. However, the net price is higher than either public or private non-profit schools.

Both medical and law doctorate public universities have a lower published and net cost than their private non-profit counterparts.

Because less cash assistance is available for doctorate degrees, learners who wish to practice in lower-paying specialties may want to be extra careful about choosing a school.

In the later years of a program, students will have to write a dissertation (completing capstone project), which means they will take on fewer credits. Therefore, the actual cost will vary from year to year of the program.

Funding Notes

Graduate students proceeding to higher levels of education may take out any student loan. They can also work as research or teaching assistants. Learners will often agree to the condition that they will not devote over 12hrs/week to working on outside interests.

On the other hand, master’s students receive financial aid during their first year, provided that they have outstanding GPAs. Funding can also be obtained in the second year of their studies.

Ph.D. student funding comes from various sources, and some institutions waive tuition fees for doctoral candidates. Funding is given in the form of bursaries and scholarships for both public and private.

Extra Tip

If the obstacles are money and commitment, one should continue with their postgraduate certificates. These types of certificates can provide focused specializations and the needed credentials to achieve career plans.


Both graduate degrees and postgraduate degrees will provide better career opportunities with higher salaries. However, these degrees are costly compared to undergraduate courses. Therefore, before proceeding, think about the factors and exhaust all possible finances.

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