Post-Graduate Study

Definition,History,Types,Cost and Admission

Tina S
Tina S
Nov 5, 2009
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Core Definition

Postgraduate courses of study are generally for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree.

Explanatory context

Postgraduate study may be post-bachelor in some counties and thus include masters but may be post-masters in other countries.
In some countries, such as the US, postgraduate students are referred to as graduate students.

This confuses graduates (those people who have graduated and left the institution) with those who have graduated from a first degree (from any institution) but are studying for a postgraduate qualification.

Postgraduate education (or graduate education in North America, sometimes described as quaternary education) involves studying for degrees or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of tertiary or higher education.

The organization and structure of postgraduate education varies in different countries, and also in different institutions within countries.
In some programs in the traditional German system, there is no legal distinction between "undergraduate" and "postgraduate". In such programs, all education aims towards the Master's degree, whether introductory (Bachelor's level) or advanced (Master's level).


Although systems of higher education go back to ancient Greece, China, India, and Africa, the concept of postgraduate education depends upon the system of awarding degrees at different levels of study, and can be traced to the workings of the medieval Islamic madrassahs and European mediæval universities.

The origins of the postgraduate degree, specifically the doctorate, dates back to the ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifttd ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") in the medieval Islamic legal education system, which was equivalent to the Doctor of Laws qualification and was developed during the 9th century after the formation of the Madh'hab legal schools.

After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded doctorates giving them the status of faqih (meaning "master of law"), mufti (meaning "professor of legal opinions") and mudarris (meaning "teacher"), which were later translated into Latin as magister, professor and doctor respectively.

Types of postgraduate qualification:

There are two main types of qualification studied for at the postgraduate level:
Academic and vocational degrees.

A postgraduate course of study is a:
•    graduate certificate
•    graduate diploma
•    masters degree, or
•    Doctoral degree.


In the recently standardized European System of higher education (Bologna process), corresponds to a one- or two-year postgraduate program (60 to 120 ECTS credits) undertaken after at least three years of undergraduate studies. It provides higher qualification for employment or prepares for doctoral studies.

The cost of postgraduate studies

The cost of postgraduate studies varies greatly. You should contact your higher education provider for information about how much you would expect to pay for a course leading to a postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate study is costly but can be worthwhile if you choose carefully.

Despite increasing undergraduate debt, the demand for postgraduate courses has risen by 41% in the past five years, compared with just 8% for undergraduate programmes.

But with both living expenses and fees to be paid for, you will need to think seriously about whether or not further study is worth investing in.


In countries in which a master's degree is a postgraduate degree, admission to a postgraduate degree normally requires holding a bachelor's degree (in the United Kingdom an 'honours' bachelor degree), although relevant work experience may qualify a candidate.

Progressing to a doctoral program sometimes requires that the candidate first earn a master's degree. In some fields or postgraduate programs, work on a doctorate begins immediately after the bachelor's degree, but the master's may be earned along the way, as a result of the successful completion of coursework and certain examinations.

In some cases the student's bachelor's degree must be in the same subject as the intended master's degree, or in a closely allied discipline; in others, the subject of the bachelor's degree is unimportant.








Keywords: Definition of post graduate study,cost of post graduate study,admission,European university,legal distinction,US post graduate students,higher education,Academic and vocational degrees

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