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Postgraduate

Do you need work experience for a master’s? That depends

work experience
Here are some postgraduate programmes where having some work experience would be beneficial. Source: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Is work experience necessary when pursuing a master’s degree? Yes and no — the answer would largely depend on the type of degree you’re going after. 

A quick stroll online and you’ll see that entry requirements for different programmes can vary considerably. However, some programmes recommend that students chalk up some professional experience to better apply what they’ve learned.

If you want to ensure that you thrive in a master’s programme and get the best returns on your investment, the right professional experience will help you apply the knowledge and experience gained from your master’s degree. Here are four postgraduate programmes where having some work experience could be beneficial:

MBA

There are many types of MBA programmes in the market that cater to professionals at different stages in their careers. Some are ideal for candidates without any experience, while most typically require candidates to have some professional experience, or are specific for seasoned professionals.

When it comes to MBA programmes, work experience helps students add context to what is being taught, build on their foundational skills and knowledge and prepare them for leadership and management roles. 

Those without work experience can opt for an Early Career MBA programme, designed for fresh undergraduates. Otherwise, most MBA programmes typically require candidates to have about three years worth of work experience under their belt. Programmes such as EMBA, for instance, are designed for professionals with 10 or more years of work experience. 

WORK EXPERIENCE

Amal Clooney pursued her master’s at the New York University (NYU) School of Law where she earned an LLM. Source: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP

LLM

If you’re planning to do a master’s in law — or LLM — not all programmes require candidates to have professional experience, so long as they meet the academic and language requirements. However, some universities do note that relevant work experience is necessary for those without a related undergraduate degree.

University College London, for instance, notes the following regarding its Master of Laws (LLM) programme: “In exceptional circumstances, graduates without a qualifying law degree but with substantial relevant work experience will also be considered.”  

Corporate Communication

Corporate communication is essential in just about every business, especially those that transcend borders and cultures. 

While many related programmes don’t typically require professional experience, students may find that having some work experience in communications will help them hone in on an area they would like to specialise in to meet their professional goals before committing their time and money to the programme.

Healthcare 

Depending on the postgraduate programme pursued, a healthcare-related master’s degree could prepare you for a career in executive or advisory positions in public health, clinical medicine or even research.

Having an undergraduate degree in a related field, along with some practical experience, can be useful if you’re planning to pursue a healthcare-related postgraduate degree as it can help you build on your current skill set, expand on your industry expertise and take your career to the next level.