Given the whopping cost of grad school these days, you’d hope to emerge with benefits so tangible that employers can’t wait to snap you up.
As you’ve already heard, postgraduate studies are not for the faint-hearted. You’ll most likely have to quit your job, the one with the regular pay check coming in at the end of the month. Hard-earned savings will be used to pay fees. Precious time will be spent away from family and friends. It’s tough.
But if done right, the perks to your career can be tremendous.
Getting it right is what Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has in mind for every student. Queen’s understands that every successful postgraduate arrives brimming with individual ideals at its Belfast campus for this new, exciting chapter of life. Some need a Master’s to climb the corporate ladder. Others are looking for a new skillset or career pivot. Many just want to improve themselves.
Whatever their motivations, Queen’s is the ideal location to base the quest for professional development.
“The Graduate School is about intellectual challenge beyond borders. It’s about developing new skills, increased personal effectiveness… It’s about a culture of opportunity, innovation and enterprise and a rich, diverse and inclusive social community,” says Professor Margaret Topping, Dean of The Graduate School at Queen’s.
Stand out from the crowd in your future career
There were 162 publicly-funded higher education institutions in the UK in 2016-17, according to representative body Universities UK.
With so many options, it can be hard discerning the good from the bad, and the mediocre from the great.
For a measure of which postgraduate programme actually pays off, it’s good to look at a schools’ track record in providing education.
When it comes to Queen’s, the school is, first and foremost, part of the elite Russell Group of 24 public research universities in the UK.
It’s featured on several established rankings: top 200 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2019); 1st in the world for its Graduate School (International Student Barometer Autumn 2015); 26th in the UK (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017); 14 subject areas ranked within the UK’s top 20 (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and the list goes on.
Naturally, job prospects grow brighter with such academic reputation; 80 of Northern Ireland’s top 100 companies employ Queen’s graduates in senior leadership roles.
Kathryn Lockhart, manager of Allstate, Northern Ireland’s largest technology employer, said:
“Allstate has found Queen’s postgraduate students have the right combination of attributes: technical knowledge, communication skills and advanced problem solving skills, meaning they’re equipped to be the next generation of leading technologists required to stay ahead of the competition.”
Whether you’re a mid-career professional or a recent bachelor’s graduate, the “What’s Next” guiding philosophy at The Graduate School will help you become part of the next generation of thinkers, innovators, leaders and communicators who are future-ready.
It’s this thought process that ensures postgraduate students receive a world-class education, redefining both themselves and their careers. In the beautifully restored and remodelled Victorian Lynn library, disciplinary excellence combines with transdisciplinary collaboration to produce graduates who go beyond.
PhD Film Studies candidate, Daniel Willis, speaks highly of the “variety of resources and available staff” to allow students develop their academic life.
As for Rebecca Sweeney, LLM student in Human Rights and Criminal Justice, the key takeaway from her time at Queen’s has been how her education informed her career: “Studying at Queen’s provides you with a multitude of opportunities, as well as a fantastic academic grounding for future careers and development.”
It’s this “What’s Next” thinking that ensures a steady stream of initiatives and events that help graduate students increase their employability. Central career fairs and employer events are regular features, thanks to the school’s links with over 250 partner institutions and collaborative links with 3,000 local, national and international employers.
The Master Your Leadership programme, on the other hand, is to support a ‘whole person’ approach to the Postgraduate Taught student (Master’s level) experience at Queen’s, achieved through a programme of training and development which complements disciplinary excellence and develops employability skills.
Then, there’s the employer-recognised Queen’s Degree Plus award for accrediting work-related learning and skills that current postgraduate (Taught) students develop through extra-curricular activities, including the range of skills development workshops offered by The Graduate School.
Postgraduate research students aren’t forgotten. Through the Research Plus Award, they have the chance to develop transferable skills beyond their research degrees to both academic and non-academic careers. It’s an official recognition so researchers can demonstrate them to employers, giving them an edge against competition in their next job interviews.
“World class, supportive and future-orientated staff and facilities will give you the head start you need in your chosen career path,” says Nick Salt, MSc Planning and Development student.
A bright, global future
The world is getting smaller and grad school is no longer limited to improved career prospects within one’s country borders.
With 2,100 international students from over 59 countries, Queen’s is the perfect base for one to shape a future career in the increasingly international landscape of work. Staff come from over 70 nations and the school’s partnerships span the globe, from institutions like Dubai Healthcare City to the China Medical University in Shenyang.
Whitney Wall-Bortz, a PhD candidate in Education from California, says: “Looking back on my time at Queen’s, one of the most interesting aspects of my experience was the intersection of cultures. I was able to learn from – and alongside – students from all around the world.”
The school’s work with Northern Irish company Wrightbus, which supplies London’s new Routemaster bus, strives to develop hybrid clean energy engines. There’s a new research centre at the School of Mathematics and Physics thanks to a collaboration with Seagate Technology, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hard disc drives. Together with Malaysian oil and gas giant PETRONAS, Queen’s researchers have also helped develop ionic liquids – green chemistry – hailed as the most important British innovation of the 21st century.
As Claire Zhao, PGR Doctoral Student, says: “Not only does Queen’s provide great academic resources but also a unique, human environment that motivated me to achieve. Without this support, I would never be able to engage in conversations with world-class academics.”