Returning to study a postgraduate degree: everything you need to know

So, you finished your bachelor’s a few years ago. You’re in the workforce. Career is tracking along nicely. But you’re finding that something is missing…

You might be looking to advance your career and move into a leadership position. Maybe you’re interested in becoming an expert in your field. Perhaps you just really enjoy learning! Whatever your reason – postgraduate study is the right move when it comes to career enhancement.

However, the thought of returning to study a postgraduate degree after a long break might be a little daunting. We get it. It’s been a long time between drinks. And you might even be wondering: why study a postgraduate degree? And how?

But let us reassure you: you’ve got this. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to give you the information (and inspiration) to start your postgraduate study journey.

We’ll cover:

  • Why should I think about returning to study?
  • What is online learning like?
  • How will I balance my responsibilities?
  • Top tips for returning to study a postgraduate degree

Why study a postgraduate degree?

There are plenty of reasons you should think about returning to study as a postgrad student. More opportunities, more income, more options… and that’s just the beginning! Regardless of your motivation, the benefits are pretty much the same for everyone.

Here’s a few reasons for you to mull over.

  • Boost your employability – stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting the job or the promotion you’ve been eyeing off.
  • Gain advanced skills and knowledge – put yourself in the next tier when it comes to know-how and experience.
  • Earn more $$$ – the median salary for postgraduate coursework graduates was $87,400 while postgraduate research graduates earned on average $93,000 (2020 GOS National Report).
  • Learn best practice – things may have changed since the last time you studied, so studying will bring yourself up to speed with any new developments in your field.
  • Get professionally accredited – get the official tick of approval from industry peak bodies.
  • Become an expert in your field – take the leap from professional to expert by honing in on an area you’re passionate about and specialising in that field.
  • Expand your professional network – meet like-minded professionals and researchers from around the world.
  • Be a lifelong learner – feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving something great.

Erin Hollier is part of our Careers and Skills Hub here at Charles Sturt. Here’s what she has to say when asked why study a postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate study can take your career to the next level by helping you define and inform where you want to go. Building on your current skill set could be the edge you’re looking for to put you above other candidates. It can also help you to boost your skills in the day-to-day practice of your work.”

Read more about whether postgraduate study is worth the investment.

What is online learning like?

Happy male online student studying at his laptop

Haven’t studied in a while? That’s okay. Online learning is the way of the future. And as Australia’s most experienced online uni, we’ve made study as simple as possible for our online students.

When you study online with Charles Sturt, everything you need is there at the click of a mouse. Lectures, tutorials, assessments, resources, community spaces. Plus, our extensive digital library is available 24/7, with plenty of online resources and how-to guides to help you find what you need.

Support? We’ve got you. Here’s a round-up of all the additional support you can expect as an online student.

  • 24/7 IT support
  • 24/7 library access
  • Dedicated YouTube channel to help you learn how to using the library effectively
  • Online learning advisers available seven days a week, until 7pm
  • Depending on your course, you can come on campus and get hands-on at residential schools
  • Connect with your classmates by joining dedicated course forums and Facebook groups

When you study an online course with Charles Sturt, you connect to your lecturer and to your classmates. But you also connect to our online learning advisers. They assist you to navigate the online learning environment and get the most out of our digital resources. For instance, while you might be fine browsing the web for info, you might not know how to access particular journal databases. Or how to add to a wiki. Our advisers can guide you, and point you to online workshops that can help too.

The main thing to remember is: you’re not alone in this. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Find out more about learning online with Charles Sturt.

How will I balance my responsibilities?

Mother cradling child while working on computer

Don’t live near a uni campus? Holding down a full-time job? Caring for family? Whatever your situation – we get that study isn’t your only commitment. That’s why pretty much every postgrad course we offer can be studied online.

So you don’t need to worry about fitting study into your already busy schedule. We make things so flexible that study just slots right into your life – at a time and place that’s convenient for you.

Don’t believe us? Let’s hear from some of our postgrad students who are balancing it all.

Kathy Talbot has almost completed her master’s. And she’s happy to share her tips for balancing online postgrad studies with family and work.

“I balance by having a supportive family, and I head to the National Library one night a week and on weekends when close to assessment due dates. When I worked part-time, I would go to a café on my day off work. I would drop the kids at school, order a coffee, then lunch, and finish studying in time to pick the kids up after school. I will admit COVID restrictions made it harder to juggle, as I had to do all my study at home.

“Remember, routine is important. Give yourself permission for some time for self-care. Know you can’t read everything, so do what you can manage. Be kind to yourself. And always have wine in the fridge.”

Michelle Smith recently completed a Bachelor of Business Studies with Charles Sturt University.

“It was tough at the start, but I have a very supportive family and they helped me keep going. For instance, my 11-year-old son (as he was when I started my degree) would help with cooking dinners. I discussed what I would be doing with my family and they knew I needed time in my office to study.

“When I felt that my study–life balance was getting out of hand, the student Facebook groups really helped. I could reach out to get advice and support to help me through.”

Find out how four postgrad students balanced their return to study with their other commitments.

Top tips for returning to study

Woman at a computer smiling

Returning to study doesn’t have to be scary. It’s an exciting and empowering time for you – and your supporters. Keen to know how to get the most out of your time as postgraduate student at Charles Sturt? We’ve got the intel.

Here are our top three tips for returning to study.

1. Be prepared for work-study balance

If you’re going to nail your postgrad degree, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to balance everything you have going on in your life. The best way to do this? Focus on organisation and time management. Plan your time. Studying when the kids are asleep. Listen to your lectures on your morning commute.

2. Make study a daily activity

Our advice? Make study a part of your day-to-day life. For instance, when there is a mid-session break, it’s better to see this as study time without classes rather than a period in which to switch off. Even doing something administrative like checking that the format of your essay references is correct can help keep you ‘tuned in’ to your studies.

3. Be realistic with your expectations

Although we advocate for students being proactive about balancing study and life, it’s also important to be reasonable about what is doable in the time you have. Make sure you build in some down time. Life events have a funny way of popping up when you least expect it – and that’s okay! The most important thing is to roll with it and not put too much pressure on yourself.

Read more tips for returning to study.

Ready to return to postgrad study?

We’re ready to have you. Join the ranks of thousands of students that have studied with Australia’s most experienced online university. You’ll get the knowledge, skills and support to level up your career.

Explore our range of postgraduate courses now.