Retraining through a work-based master’s

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Thinking of changing career? You’re not alone. The’s most recent annual survey showed 65 per cent of mums were interested in retraining and almost a third had retrained in the last year.

Many of those will be considering gaining new qualifications. One route for those with a degree is the work-related master’s. This could be anything from a master’s in the psychology of child development, cybercrime investigation or entrepreneurship to one in agile software projects or human resources management.

According to ThinkPostgrad, which provides information on postgraduate funding, advice and courses, if you are thinking about doing a course it’s important to check out relevant professional-related websites as they may be able to offer advice about education. You could also contact the careers service of the university where you got your undergraduate degree and talk to employers in the field you are thinking of retraining in to find out what courses they rate.

When you choose a course, ask the university where those who have taken the course have ended up. It might be possible to speak to some of them or to current students.

Make sure the course content is what you need and find out if the department is linked up with relevant employers. Find out if it internships are part of the course programme.


If you are already working, your employer may be able to help with fees, particularly if you can make a good case for how it will benefit them. However, beware that there are no strings attached. If they can’t offer money, they might be able to be flexible enough to allow you time off to study.

From summer 2016, new funding of up to £10,000 will be available for those doing full master’s courses.

Parents doing a postgraduate course may have additional concerns, for instance, about time management. Padmini started her PhD in social policy as a mother with a toddler.

She says: “Being a student parent is undoubtedly hard. We have to juggle classes, studying, assessments, writing, conferences, workshops and presentations, with the nursery and school run, play dates, weekend entertainment. We have to manage the all too common nursery infections and organise ourselves not to miss their music, swimming, golf and ballet classes!”

She adds that some universities can help, for instance, with subsidised nurseries or holiday clubs for school-age children.

She managed with the help of a huge network of people. “This network is important for your success and sanity. You need friends who will borrow/return books for you from the library, those attending the same birthday party that your child has been invited to will offer to take your child along, giving you uninterrupted time to study,” she says.

She recommends being self aware when looking for a course. “Know yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, your interests. Ask questions, as many as you need. If the first person doesn’t answer, find someone who will. It is your life, and you got to take charge of it!” she says.

*Think Postgrad has gathered together a collection of over 70 professional & work-related Masters. is conducting a retraining survey in partnership with The survey contains a series of questions, including what prompted you to retrain, how long it took you to find a job after retraining, how much retraining cost and how it was delivered and the time commitment required. To take part in the survey, click here.

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