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More than 80% of FTSE 100 companies choose to train their staff with The Open University.

Learn how a postgraduate qualification will enable you to stand out from the crowd and give you an employable edge.

Manager leading meeting

"Studying with the OU requires that extra bit of motivation, self-discipline and commitment – and these are highly desirable attributes that we look for in candidates."

Kay Devine, graduate development lead at First Group plc

Why study at postgraduate level?

"People with hybrid skillsets, such as technology and project management skills, are likely to be in demand and workers will need to continue training to develop new skills throughout their careers".

The Labour Market Story: Skills for the Future (UK Commission for Employment and Skills, 2014)

For some careers (such as certain roles in STEM fields, or a research post in industry or education) further study beyond a first degree may be a requirement. But even in professions where postgraduate qualifications are not essential, doing some advanced study can help to propel your career forward – for example, if you want to take on greater management responsibilities or work at a more senior level in your chosen field – and increase your earning power. Postgraduate qualifications can also support a complete change in direction and help to give you the competitive edge, particularly when combined with workplace experience.

I decided that the only way I could get out of the role that I was stuck in was to gain better qualifications. The MBA has helped immensely – it has enabled me to obtain more senior roles, in turn increasing my salary over time.

Liz Pugh, MBA

Professional recognition

We’re increasingly working with professional and regulatory bodies to link our postgraduate qualifications with professional qualifications. Examples include:

  • MBA – direct route to Chartered Manager status through a partnership with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
  • MEng – accredited for Chartered Engineer status by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and The Institution of Engineering Designers (IED).
  • MSc Engineering – accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution and Engineering and Technology (IET).
  • MSc Advanced Networking – incorporates Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) curriculum.

Cisco-certified materials are embedded in our programme. We’re always pleased with student feedback sharing how these qualifications have used been alongside the MSc in Advanced Networking to advance many careers.

Andrew Smith, OU Lecturer in Networking
Andrew SmithOU Lecturer in Networking

What are my study options?

A postgraduate qualification provides an opportunity to sharpen your focus, building on your first degree to develop the specialist understanding and skills needed for specific roles and/or career development. The Open University offers an extremely flexible curriculum at postgraduate level, ranging from certificates that you can study in just one year, to research degrees.

Postgraduate certificates, diplomas and masters degrees

The majority of our masters degree programmes are ‘nested’ qualifications, starting with a certificate that you can study in just one year, leading to a diploma, and finally a masters degree. Your specialist knowledge and study skills will develop progressively as you work through the qualification – but each level provides a valuable qualification in its own right, so you can step off at any point or take a break before continuing. The final module at masters level includes a significant independent study project or dissertation, demonstrating your ability to identify, record, assess and present information – skills that are highly valuable to employers in many fields. And if you’re thinking about an academic career, the deeper understanding and research training developed through a masters course is ideal preparation for study at PhD level.

I began to feel awe-inspired as I made more and more connections between what I was studying and what I was doing at work. My report writing, critical thinking and analytical skills improved considerably.

Clive Knight, PG Certificate in Technology Management

Research degrees

Gaining a research degree demonstrates talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge and can give you a strong advantage in the jobs market. They also open doors to an academic career. We offer the following qualifications:

  • Master of Research (MRes) – differs from taught masters degrees by focusing more on research methods and practice, and provides a firm foundation for doctoral research.
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil) – a shorter research degree completed to the same academic quality as a PhD. It’s a good choice if you need high level research skills but lack the time for a PhD, or as a first step on the way to a doctorate.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctorate in Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Doctorate in Education (EdD) – a doctorate signals to employers that you are a true expert in your subject (and its boundaries), and that in addition to advanced research skills you have an impressive level of determination, stamina and self-discipline. Depending on your choice of research, a doctorate may include a taught element, and the research you undertake can be strongly related to professional practice. A doctorate is also the entry route to a postdoctoral fellowship if you’re thinking about an academic career.

The benefits of studying didn't end with the submission of the thesis. The OU's good reputation has certainly helped me when applying for jobs. Also, the experience gave me insights into higher education that have proved invaluable. Perhaps most importantly, though, it introduced me to a group of internationally renowned researchers who I still enjoy working with today.

Dr Martin Oliver, PhD in Educational Technology

The Open University Careers Advisory Service

When you become an OU student, you gain access to our dedicated careers website and an experienced team of advisers who can help you plan your next career steps. They can help you explore the opportunities open to you with a postgraduate qualification, and offer advice on:

  • how to investigate career choice and career change options
  • where to find job vacancies
  • how to network effectively
  • how to sell your qualifications, skills and experience to employers.

You can visit the website now for general careers information, including features on undertaking further study and finding employment after a PhD.