The postgraduate advantage: Why global employers prefer the MA graduate

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

In its most recent Graduate Market summary, independent graduate research company High Fliers notes that the number of graduates hired by organisations featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers rose by 3.3 percent last year, showing a nationwide increase in the desire to hire qualified postgraduate students.

Research has shown that employers around the world are increasingly aware of the value of postgraduate study, while various studies have also found that acquiring a master’s qualification can boost your employability and earnings. Ultimately, no matter what your field of study, working towards that higher level of education will give you a competitive edge in the global employment market.

According to the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE), UK institutions have seen a 36 percent rise in the number of students receiving a postgraduate degree over the past 10 years. In terms of graduate destinations, the CIHE notes that seven out of every 10 UK employers actively sought out master’s students, while nine out of every 10 who did said they highly valued the analytical thinking and problem-solving skills that came instilled in their postgraduate employees.

“Specialist knowledge, ability to research, solve problems, and to a lesser extent innovate are important attributes of [a] postgraduate qualification,” said one UK senior business leader. With industry professionals worldwide seeking these very same skills, this respondent is not alone in his quest for the postgraduate asset.

Richard Irwin, head of recruitment at the multinational services network PwC, told Times Higher Education that where a student has used master’s studies to “demonstrate their passions or build relationships”, this can ultimately improve their chances of landing their dream job. “It’s not having done the master’s [that matters],” he said, “it’s how they’ve done it and how they’re applying the knowledge they’ve gained.”

While receiving a master’s will significantly boost your global employment prospects, a master’s from a world top 20 university is certain to improve those chances even further. As an international, research-intensive institution, ranked 19th in the most recent QS World University Rankings, King’s College London boasts a global reputation for academic discovery and teaching success.

The overarching aim of King’s Graduate School is to enhance the postgraduate experience, and ensure all students at this level can unleash their full potential. As a Graduate Professional Services Centre, King’s recognises the importance of nurturing the next generation of strong international business and research leaders, equipping them with all the skills needed to tackle key roles within public service and industry.

Last year, the King’s Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) found that 81 percent of Kings’ 2015 postgraduates thought their experience had either met or exceeded their previous expectations.

“I chose King’s because it is a prestigious university and, being in London, offered a wide range of opportunities,” said Christina Evans, former student of the Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management MSc (EMMM) at King’s College London.

“I was particularly drawn to the internship module, which allowed me to gain some relevant work experience which is crucial for any job application.”

Christina notes that Kings’ unique London location, in the heart of the UK’s vibrant, multicultural capital, is part of what helped sway her decision to pursue postgraduate study at King’s. This, paired with the school’s outstanding postgraduate faculty and unparalleled facilities – such as the comprehensive and majestic Maughan Library – all helped contribute to Christina’s decision to become a King’s postgraduate.

“The MSc in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management offered the broadest range of topics in a postgraduate environmental degree,” said Christina. “I was particularly interested in environmental modelling, but King’s offered a master’s that covered the whole scope of environmental topics required for effective management. This meant that the degree would open doors for employment.”

“I liked being able to get some hands-on experience of applying my knowledge in both the John B. Thornes Lab and out in the field,” she added. “The flexibility in the degree allowed me to apply key skills to the subjects that really interested me most; in my case it was river restoration. The EMMM gave me the training and confidence I needed… to go on and work in an environmental consultancy as an environmental modeller.”

Without the expertise gained from a postgraduate degree from a prestigious institution like King’s, ambitious young minds like Christina might not have had the skills or the confidence to pursue their dream career. It is without a doubt the King’s postgraduate advantage that helped her reach her goal.


This article was sponsored by King’s College London, one of the world’s leading universities for education and research. Looking ahead at a world that depends on being better connected, King’s has the advantage of offering disciplines that connect across different cultures, subjects, institutions and geographies. Not least of its advantages is its location in Central London, a truly international city with close connections to knowledge and influence that enrich university life in practical and inspiring ways.


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