Pursuing a Postgraduate Degree in Accountancy

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The gradsingapore Team
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Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of pursuing an accountancy postgraduate programme to help you decide if it's worth the investment.

There has been a rising preference amongst accountancy and financial management undergraduates to opt for postgraduate studies before joining the workforce, believing that it will give them an edge in their employment prospects.

Is postgraduate-level study really the way to go, though?

Many accountancy and financial management employers rarely look for postgraduate qualifications in their graduate applicants, preferring to provide internal training so that you can pick up organisation-specific skills that can aid the company in the best way possible.

For this reason, thoroughly consider the motives and objectives of doing further study so that you’re able to promote your qualification as a selling point at future interviews.

Good reasons to continue

  • Driven by interest

Postgraduate studies is suitable for those who are driven by a strong interest to explore a particular aspect of the industry. Do research the contents of your course thoroughly prior to your application to be sure that it matches your scholarly expectations.

  • Networking opportunity

Gaining networking opportunities and new contacts is another valid reason. Alternatively, if you’re looking to cross over from non-finance or unrelated industries, postgraduate studies may also be beneficial for you.

  • Gain a specialist skill

Postgraduate studies is also for students looking to gain a specialist skill. The skillset may prove useful later on in your career, but make sure to balance the newfound expertise with practical work experience to successfully promote yourself as a well-rounded worker.

Bad reasons to continue

  • To bury bad undergrad grades

If you’re taking on a postgrad to make up for poor undergraduate results, you may want to reconsider. Recruiters look for consistent academic ability instead of sudden spikes of excellence, so good results during your postgraduate years does not exempt unsatisfactory undergraduate results.

  • Avoidance mentality

Opting for a postgrad just because you are unwilling to face the difficult hiring climate is a definite no-no. Most people who do this generally lack a clear motive for taking on the course, and as such, will not be able to satisfactorily justify their extended education to future hiring managers.

  • Misconceived expectations

Some candidates think that a postgrad is a certain way of boosting your employability, but this is not true. In the current job market, a postgraduate degree is not a definite factor in providing a competitive edge for jobseekers. If anything, internships/past work experiences and soft skills have more of an impact in determining your worth to recruiters.

How postgraduate study could help your graduate job application:

  • Intellectual capacity: The fact that you’ve furthered your study can demonstrate your intellectual capacity to employers, and your deeper understanding of selected concepts may add value to your job.
  • Tenacity: Postgraduate programmes usually involve a strenuous process of research, so it may stand as an indicator of tenacity. The sustained effort of working on a dissertation or thesis also implies good self-discipline, organisational, and time management skills – especially if you did your postgrad studies while working a job.
  • Soft skills: Presenting papers and group assignments are effective in improving your soft skills, including communication and ability for teamwork – both of which are top skills wanted by recruiters.
  • Wider network: Additional training modules and conferences are good avenues for you to not only add to your knowledge of your industry, but also network with industry colleagues.

Choosing your university and course wisely

If you’ve settled on doing your postgraduate studies, then it’s time to research on potential universities and courses. There is a large variety of courses to choose from, each with different course structures, requirements, as well as expectations of its students.

NUS’ accountancy programme, for instance, is more business administration-oriented. This promises a broader module and a more extensive choice of research.

NTU, on the other hand, possesses an established staff for you to draw assistance and advise from. Intakes, however, are usually large, which limits access to the selection of supervisors for your dissertation or thesis. 

Lastly, SMU offers a different mode of teaching, with seminars and conferences acting as an integral part of the course.

Postgraduate study checklist

When choosing a course, here are some things to consider investigating and comparing:

  • How to fund your study
  • Reputation of institution and facilities offered
  • Its teaching and research ratings
  • Course content and structure (take note of their core and supplementary electives)
  • Career paths and salaries of alumni
  • Networking opportunities, industry affiliations, and collaborations with other universities
  • Your target employer’s preferred subject/course when employing staff