Stressed woman with a yellow pencil in her mouth looking at her laptop

There has been a recent online trend that has suggested that doing a post graduate degree or even completing a PhD is not worth the effort. There are many people who believe that the time and commitment spend obtaining post graduate degrees is best spent elsewhere due to the lack of impact they have on a person’s overall employability. Is this truly the case, or can further education actually help you to become more employable in the eyes of a business?

How do employers feel about post graduate education?

Most employers understand that post graduate study is often focussed in specialised or specific fields of study. There is a misconception amongst students that employers are mainly concerned with the specifics of a candidate’s degree, however this appears to be a falsehood. Instead, employers are more focussed on the personality traits that are associated with the successful completion of post graduate study. Put simply, having a postgraduate degree means more to an employer than just the extra letters on your name.

So what does this mean?

It means that amongst other things, post graduate study shows an employer that you’re a problem solver, people cannot successfully complete a post graduate course without having to face situations and problems they have not previously endured. A prospective employer will understand the importance of an individual’s ability to problem solve, if an issue can be fixed by one person it often saves time and therefore money.

In order to successfully complete a PhD not only do you need to display a frankly remarkable amount of dedication, hard work and intellectual endurance but you have to learn to use failure to your advantage. By being a successful PhD student, you are displaying to any potential employer that not only can you deal with negativity and pressure but that you can overcome it and make a success out of it. This automatically highlights several key things to an employer, and every boss wants to employ hardworking staff members who persevere to get the job done to the highest possible standard.

A PhD holder emphasises they can be independent and personally competitive when they need to be, but that they also rely on working collaboratively and understand the importance of teamwork. Most employers hire people either on their potential to be part of a team, or to lead a team, if you display that you have the capacity to do both then it is clear that employers are going to prioritise you.

There is clear difference between what is required to be successful at undergraduate level and at postgraduate level and employers know this. Employers understand that the main focus of an undergraduate student is to attend lectures, learn information and regurgitate that same information in their own words. Post graduate students are expected to produce original insight into their field of study, meaning that at a post graduate level you don’t just deal with old data you produce your own. When an employer comes to choose between someone who is capable of doing good work but work that is already well understood, and someone who is producing new concepts from old data, it is clear to see why the postgraduate might have an advantage.

It is important to remember that you can never be ‘over qualified’ for a job, a PhD for example takes three years to complete. What this points out to employers is not only that you’re an intelligent and hardworking person, but that you’re also not afraid to commit your time to something you’re interested in. Employers know that if you’re applying for a job you’re interested in what it entails, any good employer will understand that if they can keep you happy in their employ then you will dedicate your time and efforts in order to work hard for the company. 

While the numbers of people who hold an undergraduate degree increase exponentially every year, this cannot be said on the same level for those who hold postgraduate degrees and PhDs. PhDs are still regarded as a rarity and are treated with the appropriate respect in terms of employability. 

So, despite the growing doubts surrounding post graduate education it is clear that undertaking a Master’s or a PhD can improve your chances of employability considerably. On average people who hold post graduate degrees earn more than those who don’t, so the suggestion is that not only are postgraduates finding employment but that they are also finding a decent calibre of employment too.


If you are looking to go into postgraduate study, make sure to do the research for yourself, at the end of the day whether you undertake the degree or not is your choice and your decision alone. Do not let public opinion sway your decision, whether negative or positive, do what is right for you.