So it’s my final semester of undergrad and already I am feeling the pressure. No, I haven’t booked my graduation photos yet (sorry mom), I haven’t even really thought about what I want to do in life; I haven’t even yet applied anywhere for graduate program. Needless to say, I have hit a roadblock. If you can relate, then I’m happy I’m not alone in this. If you already have an acceptance somewhere, congratulations! I’m proud of you!

For those of you who didn’t already know the deadline to apply to college in Ontario is Today, February 1st. 2017, similar to most Master’s degree programs. (Okay, now is the time to panic) but then again there are schools with soft deadlines, meaning that you can still apply after the deadline date if spots are still available. Okay, so now what? Let me help you with the different options of post graduate certificates/diplomas and Master’s degrees.

Post Graduate Certificate/diploma:

A graduate certificate is the ideal choice for graduates who want more career-focused education and industry experience. Many of the graduate certificates these days feature a work component that enables you to hone in on your skills in your chosen field. Sometimes your field placements can lead to potential jobs in the future or allow you to network with clients.

For myself I have been switching back and forth between going to college and continuing in the University stream. However, more recently Universities are opening up to the idea of Master’s degrees that are completed by coursework instead of the standard Master’s that is based off research through thesis or directed reading projects.

Masters by Coursework: 

This involves the study of a specified set of core units and a selection of eligible elective units. Its basically like undergrad all over again learning through coursework, attending classes and completing assignments. Depending on the school and program it may require the completion of a minor thesis as part of the course. In some cases, some programs will also allow you to complete a co-op as part of the program also allowing you to gain experience similar to internships at the post-graduate certificate level.

This course will suit you if you:

  • Enjoy studying a wide range of topics and love learning through lectures
  • Already have an undergraduate degree and want to change your career in a short space of time
  • Enjoy contact time with fellow students
  • Want to gain a well-rounded skill set

Masters by Research:

This involves the submission of a completed thesis based on an independent research project. Students studying a Masters by Research work independently with the support of a supervisor and the school.  The majority of your days will be spent collecting and analyzing data and the aim of your efforts will be to have your work accepted for publication in a leading research journal.

This course will suit you if you are:

  • Considering gaining a PhD and want insight into PhD studies
  • Want to work in a research-based career
  • Want to focus on a single topic of interest
  • Enjoy independent study

Here are some questions to consider and help you decide:

  • Are you passionate about a specific subject area?
  • Do you have a specific career goal in mind?
  • Are employers you’re interested in seeking qualifications from all institutions or only select institutions or programs?
  • Will a graduate degree put you ahead of candidates who hold only a bachelor’s degree or relevant experience?
  • Will you receive a higher starting salary or advance more rapidly within an organization with a graduate degree?
  • What skills and knowledge are you looking to acquire from your program of study?
  • Are you required to obtain a professional designation for your desired career pathway or industry sector?


If all else fails…