Because it encompasses so many different degrees, certificates, and types of learning, postgraduate education has a broad definition. It usually refers to any education that a person pursues after earning an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree. In most cases, the education must be related to the degree earned for it to be considered postgraduate. Because it usually takes place after people have obtained an undergraduate degree, a teaching credential program, which may or may not result in a master’s degree but does result in a teaching certificate, is considered postgraduate education. The subjects that a teacher will teach are often determined their degree.
Postgraduate education has a long history in the world, dating back thousands of years. The manner in which this additional education is obtained has evolved over time in various countries. There are a few common postgraduate education objectives today. Earning a master’s degree, a doctorate, or a postgraduate certificate are examples of these (like the aforementioned teaching certificate). Medical degrees, as well as studies in dentistry and law, are all considered postgraduate education.
Given the wide range of postgraduate education goals, it’s not surprising that the time it takes to complete education varies greatly. A PhD program can take anywhere from three to seven years to complete. Certification programs typically last about a year. A master’s degree can be completed in one to three years many people. Medical school lasts three years and then requires an additional year of training, though this is not the case in the United Kingdom, where medical school is part of an undergraduate training program.
A number of postgraduate education opportunities are competitive, and students must demonstrate proficiency at the undergraduate level to be considered. Many colleges and universities use standardized testing to determine which students to accept into their programs, and the type of test used may vary depending on the type of education required. Students interested in medical school may take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), while those interested in law school may take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test).
Other students take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which can be either a general or a subject test, depending on their major. Although not all programs require standardized testing, many students pursuing law school, medical school, or most PhD programs in the United States will be required to take one of these exams. This requirement is more variable in master’s programs.
Postgraduate education has its advantages. Undoubtedly, a person receives more training in their field, and a postgraduate degree may lead to more job opportunities and higher pay. In some cases, obtaining a degree or certificate is the only way to work in a particular field; an undergraduate degree is insufficient. If people want to be doctors or teachers, for example, they must obtain medical degrees or teacher certification.
Extra education has the disadvantage of taking longer to complete before a person can return to work, as well as costing more money. Students in some graduate programs may be able to defer some costs teaching or working as research assistants, but this is not true in all programs. This investment may still be well worth the money, and in a competitive job market, continuing education after earning an undergraduate degree may be extremely beneficial.