Deciding on a graduate program is a tough decision. Going back to school is a huge commitment and you want to ensure that you choose the right program for you—one that aligns with both your career goals and your personal goals.
There are several benefits to doing a graduate degree. Graduate school exposes you to different types of knowledge, specialized training and education and inter-disciplinary thinking. It also exposes you to a variety of people who share a common vision but approach tasks from different perspectives. For example, in the Master of Digital Media program, you may have a problem as a programmer that a designer can help you solve - but you would only have the chance to collaborate in a graduate school setting.
If you’re thinking about applying to graduate school, here are some helpful tips for choosing the best master's degree program for you.
1. Ask yourself what you want to do after grad school.
The best way to start exploring program options is to think about the career you want after you’ve completed your master's degree. Where do you see yourself after grad school? From there, figure out what kinds of knowledge and skills you need to get that job. Does your dream job require hard skills (software skills, coding, design, etc.) or soft skills (communication, listening, management, etc.) - or both?
2. Have a clear picture of yourself at grad school.
Do you want to do a research-based degree where you spend the majority of your time writing a thesis or do you want to do a professional degree, where you spend most of your time working on real-world projects? With a research-based degree, you will likely be working on the academic side of things. With a professional degree, you’ll more likely be working in industry.
For the Master of Digital Media program, we build a complementary cohort of students each year, who are invested in learning from one another and sharing their knowledge with their fellow students. Picture what type of role you’d have on a team. Are you going to be the programmer, artist, designer or project manager?
3. Talk to people in the industry.
It’s important to talk to people in the industry to get an understanding of what skills and experience you need to pursue your desired career, and to also get a sense of how they view particular types of graduate programs.
To connect with the right people, attend networking events for your industry or talk to industry associations.
Here's what individuals in the digital media industry say about the MDM program:
4. Determine the requirements for different programs.
Figure out what skills you need to succeed in the program and whether or not they fit your background and interests. Do you meet the requirements for the program? Do you have the technical, design or communication skills needed to succeed in the program? Or, should you take a course to improve your skills before applying to a grad program?
5. Talk to program alumni.
Alumni are one of your most valuable sources of information when researching grad programs. Most recruitment staff can put you in touch with alumni from their program so that you can ask questions about their experience in the program and their career path. If you're interested in the Master of Digital Media program, and want to connect with our alumni, send us a message.
6. Explore other options.
Sometimes grad school isn’t the right option to get you to your next step. If you’ve done your research and discovered that you only need a few additional skills to get into your chosen career, look into online courses or certificate programs. Master's programs aren’t the perfect fit for everyone.
7. Be realistic.
A final piece of advice is to take a step back and be realistic about what grad school can accomplish. Students often believe that obtaining a master's degree immediately translates into an offer for a dream job. However, with more people getting master's degrees, companies care less about your credentials and more about your skills and how you can apply them to succeed.
See where our MDM alumni are working:
Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for accuracy.