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Why study for a Postgraduate degree?

As India's economy and middle class booms, the higher education system struggles to keep up. Quite inevitably, in today's globalised scenario, the option of pursuing an international postgraduate qualification comes into play.

The popular postgraduate study destinations for Indian students are the UK, USA, Australia and Singapore. Uniguru not only hosts profiles of institutions from these four leading countries, but also provides comprehensive information about alternative study destinations such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The UK offers various types of postgraduate qualifications. Taught courses include Masters programmes such as MA, MSc, MBA, which are 12 months in duration; and postgraduate diplomas and certificates, which cover a period of nine months. Professional qualifications are recognized by official bodies within a particular industry.

For any postgraduate course in the UK, you will need an undergraduate degree or pre-master's and , in some cases, relevant work experience.

In the US, Academic Masters provide entry to a career in academia or research, while Professional Masters facilitate entry into a particular profession. They last between one to three years.

The basic admission requirement is a bachelor's degree, equivalent to US Bachelor's (Honours) four-year degree programme. In the Indian context, it implies qualifying in a professional four-year degree such as engineering. Students who have completed only a three-year degree can complete a one-year university affiliated programme in India, corresponding to the fourth year of a US undergrad course.

For admission, standardized tests need to be undertaken - the GRE (for fields other than management, medicine and law), GMAT (management), LSAT (law) and USMLE (medicine). The TOEFL is mandatory and if you are searching for a Teaching Assistantship, it is advisable to undertake a TSE.

Australia offers various types of postgraduate programmes. A Graduate certificate/diploma is designed for specific vocational purposes, and covers a period of six and 12 months respectively. Entrance requires a bachelor degree or advanced diploma. A Masters degree could be a Coursework, Research or Professional programme, requiring a bachelor's degree or an advanced/graduate diploma as basic eligibility criteria. At times, work experience may be required.

As a demonstration of English language skills, IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge and Pearson test scores are accepted by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship for visa purposes. Institutions set their own English language requirements for course entry, which may differ from the score needed to secure your visa.

Singapore's university education system consists of autonomous universities, private universities, specialised private universities and polytechnics. Postgraduate taught and Research Masters usually take between one and three years to obtain respectively. PhD programmes can ideally be completed within two to five years. MBA courses are also on offer and cover a period one to two years.

Generally, Indian students applying to Singaporean universities will need to provide proof of secondary education and English language proficiency.

Not only does a PG qualification from a renowned study destination help you to stand out from the crowd, it also showcases your commitment and dedication, whilst research degrees demonstrate your ability to think independently and work towards a goal. A postgraduate qualification also serves as a further exploration into your area of interest, if you are not sure which career you would like to pursue, while allowing you the time to gauge your strengths, interests, and aspirations. Also, it sends out a positive message to recruiters and improves your prospects that you have added to your existing skill-set in the period of academic self-discovery.

Graduate schooling abroad may not always be easy, but the ensuing rewards are well worth the effort.

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